Since 1918, Kravet Inc. has created designs that live on the brink between art and functional design. It’s no wonder the company has once again teamed up with artist and designer Malene Barnett to design three new rug collections.
As a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Barnett did an independent study in carpet design along with focusing on other arts, such as painting and photography. Since 2009, she has built a name for her brand, Malene B., an epicenter for creative works, including her well-known custom rugs.
Design as Art
Over the last few decades, Barnett has translated her artistic abilities into commercial art design, primarily though custom carpets, although she has also worked on tiles and other products. This year, she expanded her Malene B. line to include fine arts. All those disciplines translate into her modern functional designs.
“The thing about carpet was [that] it served many creative outlets for me,” she explained. “I was able to draw, I was able to paint, I was able to add color. And then the item was functional. So for me, it was like a big canvas. It allows me to create a product that many people [can] experience.”
Over the years, Barnett became acquainted with Kravet’s former vice president of floorcovering, Nick Lomangino, who suggested a collaboration. The first Kravet-produced Malene B collection was released in fall 2016.
The two most recent design pattern releases, one hand-tufted and the other hand-knotted, are inspired by Barnett's international travels, heritage, and life experiences. The hand-knotted collection will be available in-stock, widening her already impressive design reach.
“I’m really proud of having the in-stock program [with Kravet] because that’s really going to change things,” Barnett explained. “I’m known for custom, made-to-order, and now people will be able to get a Malene B. carpet at Kravet right away. [Instead of] waiting months to get a carpet, [customers will be] waiting just a week or two for shipping.”
The collaboration was seamless, Barnett said. “They really trusted me because I come from the carpet world, so it was about developing a collection with my aesthetic and then also keeping in mind their clientele.”
Of working with Kravet’s design team, she noted, “We all speak the same language, so if I missed something, they caught it; if they missed something, I caught it.”
What was the toughest part of the collaboration? “Just the waiting!” Barnett exclaimed.
The collections are currently available online and in select showrooms nationwide. Barnett hopes that the collaborations between Kravet and Malene B. will extend beyond her carpet designs.
“Kravet doesn’t just do carpet — they’re known for fabric, wallpaper, and trim," she said. "There is an opportunity to grow in some of their other categories as well.”