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Art from the Loom

London, UK

A name synonymous with mid-century American design, rug company Edward Fields stewards a remarkable archive, as a new capsule collection shows

From Philip Johnson’s Glass House to the Kennedys’ White House, Edward Fields’ name is woven into the history of 20th-century American design. Fields founded the company in 1935 and revolutionised the industry by recognising that flooring could be a compelling vehicle for artistic expression: with eight decades of history behind the brand, its products continue to be specified for the most prestigious interiors, from architectural landmarks to private homes.

Edward Fields, who founded his company in 1935
Production takes place in Nanhai, China, at the same facility used by parent company Tai Ping

“We consider rugs as architectural elements that are intrinsic to the healthy flow of an interior: a well-planned rug offers contrasts to please the eye and to ground the furniture, but most importantly, the carpet delimitates the areas of motion and repose of a space,” says Juliana Polastri, Edward Fields’ global design and brand director.

This principle may have stayed the same since Fields’ day, but the company now manages to balance twin roles as guardian of a formidable archive and collaborator with a new generation of creatives. “We purposely continue to collaborate with relevant American creatives,” says Polastri. Recent collections include those with lighting designer Bec Brittain, furniture designer Fernando Mastrangelo and US non-profit Alpha Workshops, which provides decorative arts education and employment for adults with disabilities.

George Nakashima
Bird Star, designed by George Nakashima
Conoid, designed by George Nakashima
We feel honoured and responsible for stewarding the immense legacy that the brand contributed to the American modernist and postmodernist eras

US architect and furniture-maker George Nakashima first designed rugs for Edward Fields in 1959, but they were only put into production posthumously in 2013: when it was discovered by Nakashima’s children that he had in fact left behind a whole file of undiscovered rug designs, some of these went into production, too (and have most recently found their way into the Ace Hotel, Kyoto). Conoid, Bird Star and Dark Moon have been selected for the Home collection, all reflecting Nakashima’s interest in abstracted nature.

Raymond Loewy
Picnic Blanket, designed by Raymond Loewy
Heavenly, designed by Raymond Loewy
Infinite Star, designed by Raymond Loewy

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy helped shape the aesthetic of post-war America, from the streamlined Greyhound bus to the Shell logo and the Coca-Cola bottle. Edward Fields commissioned rugs from him in 1952: one of them, Picnic Blanket, features a checkerboard of striped and star-motif squares, and was used in Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann desert house in Palm Springs. This design, plus two more, Infinite Star and Heavenly, are now available as part of the Home collection.

Longworth, part of the Magnetic Edition
Slapstick, part of the Magnetic Edition
La Playa, part of the Magnetic Edition

The final three rugs in the collection all date from the 1970s, labelled under the umbrella title Magnetic Edition. Reflecting the creativity and experimentation of the decade, they are some of Edward Fields’ boldest designs: Longworth consists of a dynamic asymmetrical striped chevron in brown, yellow and off-white; La Playa features two-tone squares that almost seem to float across their pale ground; while Slapstick is a rhythmic group of right angles with a deco-meets-1970s feel.

“We feel honoured and responsible for stewarding the immense legacy that the brand contributed to the American modernist and postmodernist eras,” says Polastri. “Edward Fields carpets have been regarded as ‘of the moment’ for consecutive decades by leading architects and interior designers in the broad American landscape. We aim to keep the brand fresh as a piece of living history, while honouring the past and looking at the present.”

Edward Fields was acquired by the House of Tai Ping in 2005.