Odegard And America’s Next Top Rug Designers

Okay it is no secret that I really love reality tv shows.  NOT the terrifying “Jersey Shore”-kind, I am much more of a “Top Design/Top Chef/Amazing Race” genre-type of fan. You know, the kind of show where people actually have to have talent, ingenuity and brains to get ahead.

I love watching competitors brainstorm, create and compete almost as much as I love listening in as the judges ping-pong back and forth their final critiques.  So it should come as no surprise that when I was invited to watch a little “reality” design judging myself this week- you know I couldn’t pass it up!

The occasion: The Odegard Award for Excellence In Rug Design.  The contest, which is open to design students and hosted by Odegard, was in its final round of judging at the New York Design Center. Just in case, you are not yet familiar with Odegard or their breathtaking line of rugs–you should be!

Founded by Stephanie Odegard in the late 1970′s the company’s products, designs, philosophy and interest in social responsibility is bar none.  Long before other designers and companies were worried about sustainability and keeping artisanal traditions alive, Ms. Odegard was.  Her rugs are simply luxurious!

A  sampling of the exquisite rugs from the Odegard Showroom- from the Landscape Collection “Jetty”, from the Artist Collection (limited edition) “Somoroff II”,  and from the Pangdon Collection “Multi”

After many prior rounds of judging, the designs were narrowed down to a wall full of the best (and in some case) brightest submissions.  It was now up to the judges to pick the top 3.

The evening’s judges, Left to right: Stephen Burks, Jack Lenor Larsen, Mary McFadden, Stephanie Odegard, Michele Oka Doner, Holly Hotchner, David McFadden, Calvin Tsao

The Odegard Award  for Excellence in Rug Design acknowledges outstanding achievement in the  field of original student rug design. The competition was created to  show student designers how combining modern designs, with traditional  hand knotting techniques, can increase awareness and respect for the  legacy of textile and carpet weaving. Applicants were encouraged to  offer designs with inspiration that exemplifies and reflects the spirit  of this mission by unifying marketability and visionary aesthetic with  traditional weaving methods. Applicants were judged on the merits of  artistic execution, originality of their design vision, and use of  natural materials.

Following the work  Stephanie Odegard has been personally involved in for over two decades;  this competition demonstrates to a new generation of designers that it  is possible to create luxury design through traditional industries while  sustaining the artisans and local communities responsible for their  production. This competition encourages students from a variety of  disciplines to submit innovative design proposals.

Stephanie Odegard gets a close up on the designs

Now as excited as I was to get a gander at the fresh ideas that these fresh young minds had conjured up…I can’t help but admit I found myself a bit starstruck just being in the room with the judges…

From artist, to museum director, to curator, to industrial designer to architect…it was a “live in full color” moment, for sure.

I mean come on, Mary McFadden and Jack Lenor Larsen –they alone are like fantasy guests for the dream “designer” dinner party I will so- one day host!!!

Fashion legend Mary McFadden and Textile Design legend Jack Lenor Larsen…all that’s missing is a candlelit table and an extra chair for me!

Okay, once I got over the initial tummy tumble over rubbing elbows with these  judges, I took the opportunity to look over the designs and listen in a bit on the judging process.  I must say the offerings were simply breathtaking.  How to pick just three finalists-  I was truly happy the responsibility was not mine!

Jack gets a close up

Calvin Tsao, Stephen Burks and David McFadden discuss their favorites

Mary McFadden- dressed to kill, she remains the ultimate boho queen in my book!

Artist Michele Oka Doner

Holly Hotchner, director of NYC’s Museum of Arts and Design

Now I can not reveal the winners- I left without that knowledge, but I must say in the end I had picked my favorite.  I think that Stephen Burks may have been thinking the same thing  (or maybe he was just making the thumbs up eye contact with me to be nice…since at the time, Mary McFadden was standing next to me and I was suffering from a rather embarrassing case of the nervous giggles).

Either way, I can’t wait to find out!  On June 7th the winning designers will be announced at the Museum of Arts and Design. I promise to post images of them all!

All Images property of OmniPoint Publishing, you must ask the lovely Katherine for permission to reprint. Visit her Flickr Page.

2 Responses to “Odegard And America’s Next Top Rug Designers”

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  1. Donna Frasca says:

    Tummy tumbles and all, what fun that is! Can I be you for a day or at least a fly on the wall! Can’t wait to see who the winner is on June 7th.
    .-= Donna Frasca´s last blog ..But I LOVE this chair! =-.

  2. juliehoylen says:

    Thanks Donna- next time you are in NYC we’ll go stalk some design idols together!!!

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