One of the best parts of our journey is the opportunity to work with and learn from different people we meet along the way. We're excited to be able to present the latest of these joint projects: a rug designed in collaboration with Minna Goods. It represents a different facet of our interest in art and design that allows us to express ourselves in a new way, and to share something that’s really important to us. Home design makes such a huge difference in shaping the living spaces we inhabit, and we jumped at the chance to explore this world with Minna, a company that shares so many of our values.
These values come from Sara Berks, the founder and creative director for Minna. Like 3sixteen, Minna was born out of a creative desire that a day job wasn’t necessarily satisfying. Sara left a position in digital design to freelance and to search for a career path with more meaning. She wanted to make things that were more physically tangible, that other people could appreciate.
As Minna grew organically, Sara understood the opportunity that growth provided:
“I wanted to make sure that the business was good, and that I was using business to do more than just make beautiful things - to do good. From a business perspective, I'm very clear on my principles now and the things that I'm not willing to forgo — ethically made, fair wages, sustainable business practices, handmade, traditional and indigenous techniques. I think I've chosen a more challenging way of working but I find it to be all the more rewarding. I try to see the challenges more as design or process constraints rather than true challenges."
These are principles that we relate heavily to - and they’re a huge part of why we’re honored to work with Minna. How we actually came to meet Sara was more circumstantial. She relocated her studio from Brooklyn to Hudson, NY and opened a shop there in 2017 that showcases Minna’s work alongside other home & personal accessories. She was interested in carrying products from MAAPS, an incense brand founded by 3sixteen co-owner Johan Lam, and that’s how we discovered them. We loved her values and approach, and shared an appreciation for some of the art and design that inspires her work. We thought we could do something special together, and are really excited that she agreed.
While Minna makes a range of home goods, a rug made a lot of sense to do. It’s both functional and decorative, and it’s built to last and age well. It also presents a larger canvas to work with, an opportunity we were eager to explore. And of course, we wanted to work with natural indigo - a dye that’s almost inseparable from what we do.
One of our designers, Wesley, put together some ideas and the team agreed on one that we liked quite a bit. It’s graphical and abstract, a bit of an homage to American minimalist artist Frank Stella, someone that we and Sara have a mutual admiration for. Although Stella is known primarily as a painter, his approach often lent itself to other media and we loved the potential of seeing how geometrical shapes could be translated into a hand-loomed process. Sara was on board and after some dialogue, she got to work with her team and artisan partners on production.
Sara considers these partners to be key to her business and can’t give them enough credit. “Everything I know about textiles I've learned from the actual weavers themselves. They are the true experts and I just consider myself lucky that I get to learn from them and work with them.” We see this in the long-standing relationships with her partners (some of which go back to the earliest days of Minna), and how she works with them. In particular, the people who made our rugs are in Oaxaca, Mexico - from Sara’s experience with them, she knew they’d be a great fit.
"I work with two groups in Oaxaca that specialize in naturally dyed rugs, and indigo is a very traditional dye in Oaxaca! So I knew they were the perfect group to work with. This specific group is led by a family of weavers. I'm in touch with one of the brothers - he usually makes the first sample and then teaches his siblings and nieces and nephews the patterns. I also wanted to work with him on this because he's especially open to experimentation."
This last part ended up being key, because it turns out we came up with a fairly non-traditional design. Sara shared:
"The design is actually pretty difficult for this type of rug weaving! Especially those fine vertical lines - but luckily we were able to get a really nice overall finish."
From our perspective, we agree and couldn’t be happier with the way the project turned out. The blues are really striking when new, but after our sample got some mileage in a photoshoot, the colors began to mellow out. The rug looks great on the floor and also works really well as a wall hanging that can add both visual interest and texture to space. And we especially love the way the vertical lines turned out - they have a different character than the horizontal lines, which adds a bit of tension to the pattern that makes it even more interesting. These subtle inconsistencies show that it's a product that someone made by hand. Like most well-made rugs (and clothes), these will only look better with time and use.
This was a really special collaboration for us, and we’re thankful to Sara and her team for helping us to understand and appreciate the amount of effort that goes into making a quality rug in the way things should be made, and for their expertise and insight in shepherding it into fruition.
The Minna Goods for 3sixteen rugs were produced in three sizes: 2'x3', 3'x5', and 5'x7'. They'll be available both in-store in LA and online on Friday, November 8th at noon EST.
A big thank you to our good friends at Stephen Kenn Studio for allowing us to shoot our rugs in their beautiful DTLA loft, located just minutes from our LA flagship. The beautiful couch you see in many of the photos is their handiwork, and the entire space is meant to be rented out for events and stays where people can have a prolonged, hands-on experience with everything they make. Find out more about the Stephen Kenn Loft here.