The founder of GUR uses a handloom to create her unique collection
Portugal’s longtime flat-weave rug-making tradition was the main inspiration for Porto-based designer and printmaker Célia Esteves when she founded GUR two years ago. While working at the Faculty of Fine Arts as a printer, she met a weaver in her hometown of Viana de Castelo. The weaver had been handcrafting the style of rug that Esteves had seen on “every Portuguese kitchen floor” since childhood, so she decided to hire the weaver to produce colorful limited-edition designs commissioned by such illustrators as Atelier Bingo and Ferreol Babin. With time Esteves started encouraging the collaboration of more artists that she thought could be a good fit for GUR’s concept, though these days, artists and designers are the ones approaching her.
Use of the handloom – with different sizes determining the size of the rugs produced – limits the styles possible for GUR to make, so Esteves sometimes has to refuse patterns that she likes. Continuous diagonal or round lines are difficult, as are realistic or figurative shapes, though GUR has managed to improve its technique to respond better to artists’ designs. A sewing technique used over the first layer, for example, allows vertical lines that aren’t so large, which is seen in such designs as Ian Stevenson GUR. Colors are often determined by what recycled fabric is available, which is in turn determined by fashion trends, so GUR is constantly adapting. Esteves expects, however, that they’ll soon be able to choose the colors they want for the raw materials.
Esteves is currently collaborating with RealityStudio and plans to soon work with MOGOLLON studio, Luis Urculo, Après Ski, and Catarina Sobral. Because GUR is rooted in Portuguese tradition, Esteves strives to always try to have Portuguese illustrators, and hopes that international acceptance of the project will be based on an embracing of those traditions.