Hospitality Design - July 2014 - (Page 81)

products emma gardner profile By Alissa Ponchione Photography courtesy of Emma Gardner Design 1 CREATIVELY LAID PLAN 2 3 A former writer finds an outlet in rug design Emma Gardner didn't set out to become a rug designer. Her innate love of art was a driving force in helping guide her career, but initially it was one headed toward academia. Following the pedagogical route in the humanities, however, didn't make sense to Gardner. Instead, in 1996, she ended up starting-both designing and editing- Smarty-Pants, an online magazine for young women. Gardner's editorial career was a natural fit. She soon became the producer of the food channel for, and then editorin-chief of Condé Nast's, an online health and fitness magazine. But when people asked what she did, "I was never all that happy," she says. "As a kid, I was always drawing patterns and designing. I always had an artistic ambition." When Gardner became pregnant with her first child 14 years ago at the same time her position at Condé Nast was eliminated, she decided it was time to take a career risk. "I had wind under my sails," she says. "I grew up with a conviction that I had to find the career that I loved, and if I stuck to it, then everything would work out fine." Falling back on her childhood predilection, especially for graphic design, she chose rugs as her outlet. Because she knew nothing about the business, she took the time to research the industry and found herself drawn to the timeless look of handknotted rugs. Having never gone to art school, Gardner's aesthetic was informed by a textile design course she took at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New 1. Gardner's frangipaniinspired rug in the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico is mimicked in a glass-tile mosaic backing the reception desk. York. From there, she spent a year building her portfolio, tending toward combinations of vibrant tones juxtaposed with more neutral colors. Overall, "I make what I think is beautiful," she explains. For Gardner, rugs are "a wonderful vehicle for design," and provided her with the freedom to construct her own career. By 2002, her creations were in eight showrooms across the U.S.; by 2003, she was showing at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF); and by 2005, she started doing signature hospitality projects. Her first was designing a rug for the common area of a mixed-use building in Vietnam. Since then, Gardner has produced rugs-which are mostly made from Tibetan wool and Chinese silk-and other interior products for the hospitality world, recently creating a mermaid-inspired piece for the newly opened WestHouse Hotel New York by Jeffrey Beers. The design contains the skeleton-key motif seen throughout the 2. The designer's Rainy Day rug contains abstract lines made of raised silk on an all-wool background. 3. With Organica, Gardner experimented with organic exploration by treating the design and coloring like a puzzle. hotel and required precise color matting and interpretations in fiber to create the watery background. Additionally, she worked with Rockwell Group on the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico-"a dream job"-where her design of the local flower, the frangipani, was incorporated beyond her large abstract and free-floating lobby rug into a glass-tile mosaic by SICIS in the reception area. "It's a challenge and a treat to work with other creative people to make rugs that are a part of that overall experience," she explains. The Petaluma, California-based designer still draws inspiration from her past life of studying literature and philosophy, which has allowed her to evolve as a designer. "With each project, I try to do something different and something challenging," she says. "I never retread ground I covered." hd em m agardnerdesi g July 2014 081

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - July 2014

Hospitality Design - July 2014
Online TOC
From the Editor
State of the Industry
Eastern Canada
Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award
5 Questions for Jason Pomeranc
Emma Gardner
IIDA/HD Product Design Competition
HD Americas Preview
From the Show Director
Keynote Speaker
Conference Highlights
The Power of Story
Ad Index
Back Space

Hospitality Design - July 2014