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Patchwork rugs seem permanently popular – and one company is proving particularly adept at maximising their potential to renew past values, says Malin Lonnberg

IN THE LATE 2000s, patchwork rugs started popping up in the pages of interior design magazines. Unusually for the fast-paced world of interiors, they still grace editorials and can be found all over websites like Pinterest and Houzz. Rather than being a temporary fad, patchwork carpets are here to stay, speaking to contemporary society in a number of ways and embodying the spirit of our time.

Understanding the zeitgeist better than anybody else is Turkey-based ICI. Founded in 1973 but rooted in six generations of carpet tradition, the company started its production of patchwork rugs in 2010 to great acclaim. Taking the qualities that made patchwork popular in the first place, it pushes them further than the rest of the market. In the words of Tolga Uysal, Publicity and Presentation Manager of ICI: ‘Patchwork products are natural, hand- made, green and upcycled – they are contemporary works of design that maintain a connection with history without being dated.’

Upcycling, the process of turning discarded or unwanted materials into something new and desired, is being embraced across the globe as an environmentally friendly way of keeping pace with trends. Unlike many other makers of patchwork rugs, ICI works exclusively with old and antique Anatolian hand-woven carpets, staying true to the meaning of ‘vintage’. There is no shortage of material in Turkey, where carpets and carpet-making have been part of the culture for more than a millennium. The genuine artefacts suit the current appetite for traditional craftsmanship, as well as the thirst for natural fibres.

To transform the raw material into contemporary designs, the old weavings are dyed, often in bright colours, and then cut into patches. The production process reflects ICI’s dedication to eco-friendly methods and materials, preserving the environment as well as the vintage look. The coloured patches are assembled into a range of patterns, such as the herringbone Victus designs, the bold geometric Rotin rugs and the classic Vintage collection, where the floral twirls of traditional Anatolian carpets marry a modern palette and composition. The combinations are endless, and each piece is one of a kind.

Patchwork rugs inhabit two worlds. They are made from unique pieces with a rich history, having started life as saddlebags, dowries and wall hangings in farmhouses across Anatolia. However, they also belong firmly in the present-day realm of sophisticated interior design. The ability to bridge old and new means that patchwork carpets are at home in a variety of settings. They bring warmth and colour to a minimalist modern space, while harmonising equally well with an antiques-dominated decor. ‘Patchwork products are tremendously versatile. Modern, classic or rustic – they suit many styles,’ says Uysal. ‘Moreover, their contrasting characteristics are part of the attraction – old but new, simple yet sophisticated, contemporary as well as authentic.’ These competing attributes sum up the nature of patchwork rugs perfectly, and explain why they have found favour in the modern world.