the modern nomad is a risk-taker and path-breaker not limited to conventions of space. someone who takes work or home anywhere and feels comfortable finding many places to work and live in, not just one. mobile technologies allow us to be more nomadic than ever and to shift routine experiences to take place anywhere—a hotel lobby, a cafe, the desert.
the rug is one of the first mobile technologies, and just as with our current mobile technologies, the rug empowers us to be in multiple places of experience. in the home of the modern nomad the static status of the rug returns to the multifunctional heritage of the wanderer, flexible and dynamic, ready to adapt to any circumstance. wherever the rug is, is home.
a 100-year-old antique rug on average has had seven different owners. just imagine the time- traveling stories the nomadic rug could tell. for instance, about the time this antique caucasian ended up in iceland at christmas–with a bunch of turkish tulus and kilims–wrapped around the shoulders of los angeles based artist xarene eskandar during a subzero picnic with smoked salmon and shots of scotch, during a field trip on which she was to shoot a proof of concept for a virtual reality game, documenting in one take the span of winter-solstice light as it migrates across the horizon. the rear of the truck was converted into a makeshift mobile studio–and for days she camped out on her own out in the dark, frozen landscape, in all comfort and with not a fear in the world.
xarene is a modern day nomad, traveling to where her art takes her to be, often returning to faraway places to continue her explorations. she travels equipped with sensitive digital camera gear, and a few carefully chosen items to give her some comfort while filming at freezing temperatures. here she speaks on her artistic practice and modern nomadic existence.
“it’s not that the nomads had no place and drifted. they had many places—many places with attractions that though temporal, were firm. they knew that season after season they could go back to these places: a cool watering hole shared with desert animals, a small grove of doum palms for a desert treat, armed shrubs of acacia for grazing. the nomads didn’t wait in one place for what they needed to be delivered to them; they would take on the adventure of finding what was necessary to their livelihood. it is in this spirit that the contemporary nomad exists. the specific point in time and space that an idea for a new project comes to me, is as significant as the detailed recounting of every couple’s first meeting. it is a meeting of many abstractions: the idea not fully formed but just a spark, in a space that is usually of no significance prior to that moment, and with sudden emotions that fervently race to ‘this is it!’. more often than not, these places are deserts— of sand, of salt, of ice. i go in search of an essence of a place. i find one in a relationship with time that disconnects me from myself and forces me to redefine a new sense of awareness in relation to the space i am in. it also aids me in defining a place on a vast horizon. this is my livelihood and what shifts me into the nomadic mindset.”
“i am impatiently patient within this membrane as i plan towards what will become a film, a short video, or a photograph. i visit the same location over and over and over until i know its lay and how light and shadows fall on it, until what was once unknown becomes familiar to where i can locate it in the pitch black of night, until i miss it and do anything I can to be there.”
“like the nomad on a path for days, i pack my necessities: my filming and photography equipment efficiently packed in one pelican case; cured meats, bread, butter, bourbon, and a small crate of fresh clementines all kept cool in an aluminium box; no more clothing than what i am wearing in comfortable layers; the traditional comforts of warmth and coziness woven in an antique wool rug; the original nomad sleeping bag, a hand-woven tulu; a vintage wool kilim in its centuries-old role as a wind barrier; all packed in the back of my shelter, a singular caravan–a land rover defender.”
“detached from time, i park my roving cave in the middle of nowhere, yet it is a specific somewhere. my car isn’t just parked on a site, it demarcates a place, my camp. one layer of connectedness to the site is philosophical and what brought me to that location in space and in time. i am also grounded within this place by the materiality of my camp. laying on the wooly tulu is comforting by knowing generations slept in the wilderness in the same manner, while draping the antique wool rug over my shoulders as i sit in sub-zero northerly winds is a feeling akin to being wrapped in the fireside stories of the woman who wove this rug a century ago for her dowry, her spirit alive in every single knot. like amulets, these worn objects tie the now back into old time, resounding protective powers through memory and connectedness. as the qashqai say, “where i am is my rug. where my rug and i am is my home.”
in the void of space
we dream. we stare into it
and our minds drift.
by nature of activating the rug through interactions with it – sitting on it,
sleeping wrapped in it, resting on its folds – the rug becomes the place that in turn
connects the body to earth.versatile and resilient, it shrinks the world to size:
where the boundless desert becomes a secure site, unfolding a sense of belonging,
wherever you may be.
back in the old country, when the heat of the surrounding deserts pushed against any chance of the cooler temperatures to trickle down from the mountain, at once the denizens of all classes and ages decided it was time to go to the canyons for some reprieve from the basin’s heat, to dip their toes in cool rivers, drink from cold springs, and collectively share age old luxuries of resting under the shade of old trees on wood benches draped with lush handwoven rugs and cushions, cooling off with a summer soup of apples and rosewater, eating grilled kabobs wrapped with fresh basil, and topping it off with saffron ice-cream sandwiches.
here in the new world, where the west runs out of land, the summers are as hot and dry. the roads are congested and each freeway has a pattern of traffic entangled with the next one. the air is a milky prism of heat and smog. yet there is ample space to find your own place. To escape our basin, drive north east, over the mountains, across the Mojave desert toward where the eastern sierra Nevada and the western great basin meet in its highly active geothermal divide, and the maroon red hill cinder cone in the coso volcanic field stands tall as the youngest mountain of california, its last eruption only 40,000 years ago, proudly taking its place near mount whitney, the highest summit of the lower 48 states.
wherever I lay my rug,
that's my home.
a light breeze shifts the shadows cast by the kilim hanging over
the timeless structure. the baby wakes from a nap on his mother’s lap,
while the toddler at her feet sinks his mouth into a slice of watermelon,
the juice dripping from his chin and elbow onto the rug, where it
collects as a drop, slowly absorbed into the rugged knots.
lying on your back with the firm floor supporting your horizontal weight,
you experience that familiar feeling of when you were a child and
would splay out with your siblings on the family rug, blessed with the
ultimate comfort of a timeless sense of belonging.
a place where
the present moments
are woven into
a play with the richness of texture, in which unusual fiber combinations, a juxtaposition of styles, neutral colors in both warm and cool tones, along with varying pile heights, conspire to celebrate the sensual vitality this creates. between the arousal of both the visual and the tactile radiates an experience greater that its sum total; a sense of awakening as the known becomes unknown, allowing us to see and—most importantly—to feel the familiar anew.
at studio woven we are avid students of the highly structured patterns and clean-edged lines used by the bauhaus movement and in swedish modernism. the pale coloring, combined with a lower pile weave so lines run in a straight fashion, creates a cultured and orderly vintage feel from a non-specific design era, in colorway and weave combinations not available before. with a hint of tron and blade runner, these rugs are perfect platforms for departure into the virtual reality of today’s entertainment media.
the beauty of the unfinished, the soulfulness of the imperfect, the artisan’s skill in service of a greater good to create a versatile rug for a variety of settings, from art deco to california modern, to a future of further thinking and tinkering. a japanese asymmetry achieved via hand-drawn design and muted color combinations delivers a subtle mood of restraint and respite, leading to a place of mindful meditation.
the rug as landscape leads to new horizons. a rolling field of soft ridges with high pile intermixed with a dense flat weave invites us to stretch out and become part of the horizon too, if just for a brief moment, and preferably for a long, luxurious nap on a lazy sunday afternoon, surrounded and held in an embrace by favorite pets, kids, and/or partner. and by the rug, as you sink into the texture of its terrain.
vibrant colors and playful patterns evoke the wide-open african plains, the place where humankind took its first footsteps, leaving behind marks and symbols that resonate with us still, many millenia later. the primal force of a simple pulse repeated becomes a beat woven into a rhythm dancing to the soundtrack of life. in the form of a rug. repeatedly.
the high:low series works with the most elemental form of the line to create dynamic movement and striking contrast through variations in pile height. the lines slicing through the pristine white field of long woolen strands evoke the slashed works of italian avant-garde artist lucio fontana, whose aim with this simple gesture was to reach for the dimension of infinity, a void of vast unexplored territories, to search for further enlightenment. in our rugs, the result is lavish, luscious and irresistible, like the rappers who inspired their names.