“Weaving is a dying art form,” says Jenny Jones, as she strolls through her showroom in Perth’s trendy suburb of Claremont. “We need to show more respect for the process, or we’ll lose our industry.” More than a traditional rug shop, Jenny’s showroom has a grand, gallery-like feel, with inspiring rugs carpeting the floors, walls and ceiling. “I want people to look at the products and think of them as art,” she says, waving her hand toward a masterpiece crafted from pure silk and hand-spun New Zealand wool.
The designer recently launched her first full collection, but she’s far from new to the industry – Jenny has been importing traditional and contemporary rugs for 17 years and designing one-off creations for her showroom and customers for 12 years. A pivotal point came in 2000, when she visited the world’s largest rug trade fair, Domotex in Germany, and noticed a gaping hole in the market. From thousands of rugs, “Only a small percentage were contemporary and of those, not many reflected the colours that were coming through in fabrics at the time – no lovely mochas, or greys and creams,” says Jenny.
Amongst the gaudiness, Jenny spotted a beautiful contemporary collection of neutral-toned rugs by British designer Kelly Hoppen and brought the range exclusively to the Australian market. “It took people a while to wrap their heads around the look, yet I knew that when they were ready, people would come.” And come they did, eventually, but in the meantime Jenny set about learning how to create her own pieces. Twelve months later, she had sourced a producer in Kathmandu to handcraft her designs, and was taking commissions from customers across Perth.
Now, creating and designing is a way of life for Jenny, and an occupation she certainly has a flair for. At Domotex this January, her eye-catching aqua rug, titled ‘Ruby Room’, was awarded Best Modern Design Superior. Part of her new ‘Connextion’ collection, the rug was hand-knotted using ‘bamboo silk’, a revolutionary product that gives a luxurious, silky feel at a significantly reduced price.
The range boasts 25 designs in seven vivid colourways. “I spent about a week with the colourist, getting the colours just right,” says Jenny. Each piece is a work of art in its own right – the rugs are hand-knotted with up to 2 million knots and it takes four people from four to 10 months to create one design.
The collection is now part of an even bigger story. Together with Australian educationalist Dr Peter Larson and the Jaipur Rug Foundation, Jenny and her husband have developed the Alternative Education Program, which introduces literacy, numeracy and life skills to weavers in rural areas. “Each rug sold helps to educate a girl or woman in India,” explains Jenny. “We believe that the only way to truly help people is to educate them – don’t apply a bandaid, change their lives.” With her adult children all now involved in the business, Jenny feels blessed by everything her rugs have given her. “It’s enabled me to be creative, travel, meet people and spend time with my children. I’d love my kids to have this same experience and openness to people. I think that’s very broadening.”
Prices for rugs start from $2600/270cm x 180cm. For more details, call (08) 9286 1200, or visit jennyjonesrugs.com.
Jenny’s advice on choosing the right rug
1. Settle on a palette: Narrow down your choices by selecting your colour first. “Work out your favourite colour scheme so you’re sure that the product you’re purchasing is really you,” Jenny advises.
2. Measure up: Determine the size of your space before you go shopping. “Rugs create an invisible room, especially in an open-plan space,” says Jenny. “Small rugs make a room appear smaller. Larger rugs draw your eye out to the edges of the room.”
3. Perfect your placement: “Always allow the rug at least a 20cm border around the furniture. For a dining area, you need a 70cm border around the table and chairs, so that the chairs can be pulled out and remain on the rug.”