4 MUSES THAT MOVE ME
Mariella Ienna shares her creative process to designing carpets for freedom and how you can weave these inspirational ideas into your own home, too.
Australian designer Mariella Ienna draws inspiration from many places. Whether it’s the rich history of her adopted home in Sicily’s Palermo or the Indian artisans she collaborates with, these influences weave their way into her creations. She is primarily a carpet designer, but her process goes beyond concepts.
As a proud partner of non-profit organisation GoodWeave, Mariella ensures her unique designs are ethically produced by skilled artisans who work closely with her throughout the manufacturing process. The GoodWeave label ensures all products are made by adults, not children, and that no forced or bonded labour was used.
We spoke to Mariella about what inspires her to design such stunning pieces. Here are her top tips for getting your own creativity flowing.
1. Look to your environment
Mariella’s culturally rich surroundings are a strong creative influence. “I draw a lot of my design inspiration from what I find around me,” she says. Palermo’s dazzling architecture and decorative traditions, established over the past 1000 years by its Greek, Roman, Venetian and Norman inhabitants, form a diverse palette for Mariella’s works. “It’s incredible to think that these designs remain, and can be, once filtered and rendered in a new way, incredibly contemporary, which is something I find very inspirational.”
2. Find beauty in the imperfect
While, at times, we’re inclined to want to re-create the picture-perfect scenes we see on Instagram, Mariella is one for embracing the beauty of handmade. “All of my products are realised by hand – not by machine,” she says. “Handweaving is a very specialised stage of developing a carpet; there’s different processes that it has to go through.” It was this desire for expertise and uniqueness that led Mariella to partner with the skilled artisans she works so closely with in India. “Because of the ethnic and religious groups of people that live here, I think it has grown as a cultural centre for weaving,” she says.
3. Collaboration is key
Mariella’s process is very fluid and intensive. Working closely with weavers and wool producers, she delights in seeing her carpets and rugs take shape and evolve into something wholly new. “It’s very much a collaboration with the artisans. I’m very aware of texture and forms, and I translate that into the wool that we use,” she says. “The artisans teach me more than I teach them. I have a very close relationship with them. I sit behind the looms and we push the boundaries. I always say, ‘Can we try this?’ and usually we’ll try it and it’s beautiful. Working together on developing the process is, for me, even more enjoyable than the actual designing at the first stage.”
4. Discover other art forms
While interior design encompasses an immense range of styles and ideas to draw from, Mariella likes to explore beyond her own art form for creative influences. “I follow a lot of contemporary artists and photographers in Italy and Australia,” she says. The dynamic designer is especially drawn to modern art with traditional influences. “I find contemporary artists a lot more interesting because it speaks of our times. A lot of my designs come from the Norman traditions; fragments of designs, walls or mosaics, filtered by me with a modern eye. There’s a lot of reinterpretation of older materials, reworking them constantly. It’s humbling that a design can become contemporary. That melding of traditions is almost like a connection with humanity.”