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New Zollanvari collection to celebrate 75 years

Glitch Art is the inspiration behind the Glitch Gabbehs collection designed by Milan’s SoFarSoNear Studio for Zollanvari. Traditional archaic gabbeh designs are reinterpreted using a new digital language. The result: a collection composed of eight distinct designs each in multiple colourways hand-knotted using the finest wool from the Zagros Mountain region of Iran and dyed using natural vegetable dyes.

“Glitch Art describes a visual style characterised by using digital or analogue errors for aesthetic purposes, whether that be intentional or by accident.”

For a quick overview of this article, click the video.

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A complex combining process

In his presentation at the collection launch on 4th October at the Zollanvari Headquarters in Embrach (Zurich), Luca Ferreccio of SoFarSoNear described the complex process of combining and simplifying ancient gabbeh motifs with technical manipulations that in keeping with the rugs’ handmade nature were principally a handmade process. In full consultation with the design commissioning team at Zollanvari, SoFarSoNear restyled gabbeh motifs many times over to capture the graphic essence of these patterns.

Harnessing technology

“There’s a controlled imperfection to [glitch art], and it’s a reminder of the technical elements of design. It visualizes technology as having a combination of textures and patterns but without perfection,” says Terrence Morash, ex-creative director of Shutterstock.

The term ‘glitch’ itself originates with engineers and astronauts to explain faults within the technology they were working with. But the visual aesthetic can be traced much further back, to the beginning of the 20th century through distorted forms in cubist paintings, abstract short films, and pixel-like rug designs akin to 8-bit video game landscapes. In fact, many antique rugs feature abstract, distorted patterns that seem to predict the glitch movement of later centuries.

Motive manipulation

Through manipulation of the ancient motives, the designers could explore new directions.

Bonfires combines two motifs from Persian tribal iconography: that of rhombus (made of two triangles – the symbol of a woman in tribal weavings of the Zagros Mountains of Iran) and the boteh (according to some scholars a convergence of a stylised floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity, and according to others, representing a mother with child). Here, the designers have distorted the motifs to create the glitch effect, adding a flame-like sense of movement, which adds yet another Zoroastrian reference… the bonfires of the Persian Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbe Suri) held on the last Wednesday of the Iranian year and marking the arrival of spring. Fire and light… the hope for health and happiness for the coming year.

Persian gardens may date back to as early as 4000 BC, but the tradition of a walled garden clearly began with the Achaemenid dynasty around the 6th century BCE, when the notion of an ‘earthly paradise’ spread through Persian literature. Persian gardens are closed gardens, not to be seen by outsiders – a true inner sanctum… but not in the Orchard design. The stylised trees of the orchard line up horizontally at the foot of this Gabbeh and are planted in the richest of soils… beyond is the meadow dotted with floral bushes and exotic birds… This is paradīsus, as rendered into Latin from the Avestan word pairidaēza-, albeit the contemporary Glitch version.

Triple diamond-shaped medallions on plain or striped grounds are most recurrent in the weavings of the Ghashgha’i, Luri and Afshar nomads. SoFarSoNear took this reference and created an ingenious design for the jewel in the crown of the Glitch Gabbehs collection. Erratic and cracked allotropes seemingly fly across a field of bold colour bands (another typical Gabbeh design) … almost like kites overflying an ‘Aladaglar’ landscape. These multiple gems in varying sizes are the ‘diamonds in the sky’ shining brightly in celebration of Zollanvari’s 75th Anniversary.

Old with the new

Francesca Gasparotti, the other half of the SoFarSoNear team, took charge of the colourways, creating two individual vibes for each of the eight designs – one in traditional hues of antique gabbehs and the other in bright modern colours, and Reza Zollanvari added a third, from a rug master’s market-trend perspective.

According to Francesca ‘Farrow & Ball and Pantone 2022/23 colours were selected and then referenced with Zollanvari’s extensive dyed-wool charts to ensure the final natural-dyed colours were truly Persian in tone…’

SoFarSoNear and Zollanvari have been collaborating over the past 10 years on some six collections that not only have been innovative but have won design awards (CDA, GDA, Interiors IMM, to name a few) and global recognition as ground-breaking designer rugs.

‘We have never shied away from trying something new, pushing the boundaries. We are always innovating, finding inspiration in weaving traditions from across the globe, but always giving the designs the Zollanvari twist. In SoFarSoNear we have found design partners that not only understand carpet design but are prepared to push the boundaries… I am confident that with the Glitch Gabbehs Collection we have lanched a new era in gabbeh design… a new revolution, if you will!’, states Reza Zollanvari, head of design at Zollanvari Studio and Managing Director of the International division.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to www.zollanvari.com/; www.sofarsonear.com/for the information in this editorial. The collection will be available to view and purchase online from 1st December 2022 at www.zollanvari-onlineshop.com. An online exhibition showing all designs in multiple colourways is also planned for December 2022.

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