About a month ago as I was packing for a trip to Nepal to trek the Manaslu Circuit a friend sent me a link to the great social business that is Node. Set up by illustrator Chris Haughton and Ashkay Sthapit, Node "aims to connect a worldwide network of designers and artists with traditional Nepalese carpet makers to create beautiful handmade rugs".
The rugs are hand produced at Kumbeshwar Technical School in Patan, one of Kathmandu's neighbouring cities, and as I had a few days in Kathmandu at the end of my trek, I contacted Chris to ask if I could visit the school and see the production process. He put me in touch with Satyendra Khadgi who kindly gave me a guided tour of the school and explained how it - and the school and orphanage it helps to fund - operates. The rugs are hand knotted - using pure tibetan wool and natural, non-polluting dyes - by disadvantaged Nepali women who are trained in the different processes involved, before being washed and finished. (the rugs that is, not the women). The results are quite beautiful.
Node has recently worked with a group of illustrators to produce a series of rugs which are now on sale in the Design Museum. You can see - and buy from - the selection here in their online shop.
Node also offer the opportunity to design and have custom rugs made, something I'll definitely be working on over the next couple of months.