Design Miami recently took Miami by storm and the list of design visionaries who enlightened their fans this year is longer than ever. I’ve interviewed a handful of them on my ezine “Design Commotion.” Ross Lovegrove, the Campana Brothers, Nadja Swarovski, and Piero Lissoni are among the talented individuals I interviewed. They have helped to change the face of design and how we view interiors and furnishings.
I also interviewed Chris Sharp, co-founder with his wife Suzanne of The Rug Company. The Sharps are visionary in their ability to attract talented designers to create their rug designs. They also promote human rights in their factories. They’ve gone so far as to hire an independent third-world production specialist to keep tabs on what’s going on in their factories. “We’re serious about everything that relates to the workers,” says Sharp. “We want to make sure that the lighting is adequate for the workers, that clocking in and out is legitimate so that workers are not pulling more hours than they should, that looms are cleaned so that there isn’t too much air-born lint for the workers to breathe.”
A worker’s environment makes a drastic difference in his or her quality of life, he believes, adding, “We make sure that the children go to school, a very big issue; and we assure that garbage is bagged, which may seem like a small issue but it’s not.” If the company’s activism isn’t enough of a reason to buy their products, the quality and beauty are. “I’m a great believer in value,” remarks Sharp. “Our products are handmade using the best materials.”
Chris and Suzanne became interested in rugs while living in the Middle East. They were there making movies there for a time. “We would go down to the souk and buy rugs because there was really little to do back then,” says Chris. “We slowly developed a passion for them and I thought it would be a good business because it’s one of the few household products that appeal to blokes, along with wine and cars!”