Designing Stories: an interview with Nani Marquina

Fabrics Greenwich Design

The story of nanimarquina is based on a simple idea: the desire to design and produce contemporary rugs. This is its clear intention, which is implemented using values such as innovation, observation, communication, emotion and a knowledge of traditional craftsmanship.

The Spanish company has been designing carpets and textile products since 1987. It pays particular attention to its source materials and production process. These factors enhance the products’ aesthetic aspect, contributing to brand awareness and its success.

Bene just launched the Greenwich rug collection, a collaboration with nanimarquina, Bene and the British design studio PearsonLloyd. In our interview, Nani Marquina talks about her passion for design and tells us, how colors and knots can become stories.

You started out as an interior designer – why did you start designing rugs? When did you discover your love for textiles?
Design was always a big part of our home life, from when I was a little girl. My father was one of the first industrial designers in Spain. Every day he would come home with new designs that he had created. I was totally captivated, so he passed his great passion for designing on to me. Designing carpets wasn’t a decision that I made overnight. I started out as an interior decor print designer and through that I discovered that there was a gap between creating rugs and contemporary design.

What distinguishes a nanimarquina rug from others? How would you characterize your designs and products in a few words?
We research and design rugs with an emphasis on raw materials and traditional manufacturing processes. This enhances the beauty of the products - converting the textures, colors and knots of the rug into art, to tell a story. This is our key value, so you are not just buying a rug, you are buying a story. I believe that my passion for art and admiration of nature define the essence of my work.

Nanimarquina is well known for extraordinary design, best quality, a wide range of colors and craftsmanship. The carpets are made by hand in countries of great craft tradition, such as India, Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal. How did you find your partners and places for manufacturing the rugs? You must have a lot of interesting stories to tell…
Yes, I do! And above all, each of these countries have given me a little bit of inspiration and have extended my knowledge.

In fact, we find our partners as we travel through these countries. We look for examples of ancient and traditional looms from the region as well as local know-how, weaving techniques and processes. After that, it depends on their readiness to work with us and to open their minds to explore new ideas and requests.

The Bene Greenwich rugs are produced in India. Can you tell us a little bit more about the production process and the people involved in it? What role does the traditional know-how play?
The production process is a collaborative one between our needs and the tools and knowledge of the people involved. Their traditional know-how is very important to the production, because we always try to revive old methods.  For us, the best rugs are those made by hand. Those that have taken the longest to create and have received the most dedication are much more appreciated. I think that if you create handmade rugs using traditional techniques such as kilim, dhurrie and sumac, your rugs become really special and unique. Behind them, there’s not only a very laborious process but also a story about another culture, which gives the finished product a very special value.

All your production was relocated to developing countries. How do you deal with local working conditions and social problems?
When arriving in India, for example, you quickly realize that if you want to work there you have to involve yourself in that country. A year after my first visit to India, the Care & Fair organization was founded with the objective of eradicating child labor in the manufacture of carpets in these areas. We now give a percentage of our production to India and Pakistan every year.

Five years ago we created the Kala project in collaboration with Care & Fair, so  now when someone makes a purchase from the Kala Collection nanimarquina donates 150 euros to finance the Amita Vidyalaya school in Bhadohi. Thanks to the Kala Project, nanimarquina is giving nearly 600 students, aged from 10-15 years, the opportunity to go to school. So, bit by bit, we try to help with working and social differences between our environment and these developing countries.

Caring for the environment is one of your key values as a brand. Can you name some examples for you environmental engagement?
To help in the fight against environmental degradation, we have introduced Eco-wash in the cleansing of some of our collections. We use Ecosheen, a biodegradable and chemical free multi-enzyme natural washing product, which helps to retain the bright colors, shine and softness of the fabric.

Under the international premise of “reuse, reduce, recycle”, we pay the utmost attention to caring for and preserving the environment that surrounds us. That is why we strive to enhance our work with the use of biodegradable and recycled products, experimenting with the different types of textures they offer. Our traditional production methods further contribute towards preserving natural resources for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
Our interest in recycling has led us to come up with other creations like the Bicicleta rug, produced since 2004 with 100% recycled material. It's an exclusive rug that reflects our concern for the environment. The idea for the rug came to us during one of our trips to India when researching the possibility of using recycled rubber to create new textures. Seeing as bicycles are the country's most popular form of transport, we thought to use the inner tubes from bicycle tires. Other nanimarquina rugs, such as the Global Warming model, contain a powerful message, inviting people to reflect on the current world and the importance of understanding how climate change and the health of our planet are in our hands.

The Greenwich rugs are characterized by an original set of colors. How does the coloring work? How long does it take and what needs to be taken into account when choosing the right colors and materials?
The color palette is one of the most important parts of the design. I believe that each color represents a feeling and each feeling has its own color. So color is one of the most important aspects of our rugs; how they make people feel. The process of choosing a color is one of the most fundamental steps in designing rugs; to make sure that we really communicate what we want to. With the Greenwich rugs, we looked for the harmony between the different models.

The Greenwich rugs originated in a collaboration with Bene and PearsonLloyd. What was your role in the process?
The role of nanimarquina's design team was to advise them on the different handmade techniques, the best fibre, the pile height...

Bene sees the office as a living landscape, with a lot of space for creative thinking and communication. What role can fabrics, especially rugs, play in such a modern workplace?
Rugs play a very important role in a workplace. The colors and shapes of a rug can give a special meaning to a space; they make it more or less informal, more or less rigid, more or less welcoming...

You often collaborate with international designers. What do you think are the perks of working together? Isn’t it sometimes complicated to find a good solution for everyone, when so many creative minds are involved?
No, it’s not complicated, not often! Usually the designers contact us directly with a design, then we work together, starting a creative process by looking for the perfect design and the best way (technique, fiber…) to produce it.
When different creative minds work together, so many new ideas grow, which is so enriching. The views of other designers towards rugs are very useful; because they don’t know the difficulties of making a rug and they are sometimes more creative and more innovative.

What are your dream projects for the future? Is there anything you would love to do or achieve?
I find it very exciting that people nowadays know so much more about design. They know more about what they want, such as the quality or durability of a product. It's also really good news that the use of handicraft techniques is increasing. In this context, my principal objective is to keep innovating and to bring emotion to the rugs that people can really connect with.

Thank you for the interview!



Angelika Molk

Corporate Marketing Manager