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Collective Effort

Luxury brand 1956 by Tai Ping partners with three up-and-coming artists from around the globe to create a bold and unexpected collection.


Luxury brand 1956 by Tai Ping partners with three up-and-coming artists from around the globe to create a bold and unexpected collection.

Many contract manufacturers maintain relationships with outside industrial designers, making it easy to call on them when it comes time to develop a new product or concept. While that approach gives manufacturers a known expert with years of experience, a familiar workflow and (hopefully) some name recognition, it can also be a little too safe—never a good idea in an industry always looking for the next new thing.

For luxury carpet brand 1956 by Tai Ping, the development of the company’s new Design Collective line of carpets and carpet tile represented a chance to step outside of its comfort zone.

“We opted to take the journey for our Design Collective collection with people who weren’t familiar with what we do at all,” says Ginger Gilbert, global creative director in the Commercial & Contract divisions for Tai Ping. “When we were looking for those people, we decided we really wanted to work with pure artists—artists who were just making their way into the art world. We wanted to give them a blank canvas to do something for us.”

“We knew that if anybody was going to push the limit, an artist struggling to make their mark would do that for us,” she adds.

Designers with 1956 by Tai Ping began by drawing on their own inspirations from the global art scene, sharing photos, paintings and creative works from artists they found intriguing. The expansive list was eventually narrowed down to nine artists, and then to just three: multimedia artist Gaëlle Villedary of France, graphic art collective PHUNK of Singapore (comprised of Alvin Tan, Melvin Chee, Jackson Tan and William Chan), and an Australian artist who wished to remain anonymous.

After agreeing to some loose parameters and a few ground rules—the company needed ballroom, corridor and lobby patterns for each series, for example—the artists were left to create carpets that they would want to see in their ideal hotel. It didn’t take long for the their own inspirations and influences to take over.

WATCH: See the development of the Tai Ping's Design Collective line in the I&S Media Center.

For Villedary, the overarching role hospitality spaces play in our lives became a foundational element of her research. “I considered the hotel as a refuge for guests, and the role that the carpet—both practical and symbolic—plays in creating the ambiance,” she says. “I then found inspiration in the Archipelago—the world under us, unknown and inaccessible. The movement of algae and the structure of coral inspired my drawings. My idea was to return to the construction of Persian carpets and their depiction of formal gardens, with the four corners of the world and the fountain in the center, as the source of life.”

For the members of PHUNK—a group whose name appropriately sums up the work they’ve done for artists like the Rolling Stones and Kanye West—their inspiration came from a more familiar place: the collective’s latest series of artworks, entitled Empire of Dreams.

“It is PHUNK’s celebration of dreams. It is inspired by the epic stories of the dreamers,” group members write. “They see things differently. They are not fond of rules. They do not conform. They invent. They imagine. They love. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the boundaries. They move us forward. They change the world, building it around the grandest, wildest of dreams. We wanted to visually build our Empire of Dreams, tell inspirational stories and pursue the spirit of ‘daring to dream.’”

While giving that much latitude to such a geographically and aesthetically diverse group of artists presents plenty of opportunities for things to go awry, Gilbert notes that the team at Tai Ping made a concerted effort to adapt to the collaborative methods preferred by each artist. Villedary chose to work in a partnership, selecting and developing patterns in tandem with Tai Ping, while the artists of PHUNK preferred to work back and forth, “almost like musicians trading riffs,” they write.

“I considered it a bit like the creation of a play,” explains Villedary. “I was the author, but in order to enrich and perfect the show, I was accompanied by directors and actors, each with their own vision and expertise.”

The resulting collection seemingly does the impossible, presenting three distinct visions while also making a coherent design statement. From the soft, ethereal underwater elements in Villedary’s Archipelago, to the bold and surreal figures in PHUNK’s Empire of Dreams, to the complex and linear abstractions of LOST, each series allows designers to create a bold, stylized space—whether it’s a ballroom or guestroom, a boutique hotel or big-name brand.

“Interior designers can pull the Design Collective book off their shelf and have three completely different aesthetics, with multiple patterns and families within each aesthetic, to utilize over and over again,” Gilbert says. “We’re beyond pleased with the diversity that the collection brought to us.”


Kylie Wroblaski is a former editor for BUILDINGS magazine and has written previously about architecture, interior design and facilities management.