We’re bringing you a special blog this week: an interview with our very own, Tam Wimolvan Vidulich! For this interview, we asked Tam to pick one of her favorite designs and asked her about the process: from inception to production. This will give you an insight into what makes a Tam Wim rug so special!
Design: Stepping Stones
What was the inspiration behind this design?
Tam: The pattern is based on garden paths. I had for years been aware of traditional Japanese gardens. These gardens weave different materials, sand, stones and pebbles, wood and greenery to create texture. Every spring when I research what to do with my own yard, I am always drawn to these gardens.
When the inspiration hits, do you start designing right away?
Tam: I always have a sketchbook nearby, when I see something I like, it could be a color or pattern, I immediately get out my pen or pencil and start drawing. I use my sketchbook for inspiration when I sit down to design.
You use a variety of beautiful colors in your rugs. How do you decide which colors to use in this rug?
Tam: In designing this rug I went back to my raw sketches to transform this organic pattern into an architectural design. The color palette came from that of the garden, sand, stone pavement, wood fencing and greenery.
How many times to you review and edit your designs before sending them to production?
Tam: Most of my designs go through a lot of revisions, changing the pattern, scale and colors. With Stepping Stone, once I had the pattern, I couldn’t quite find the color I wanted for sand, despite complete drawings with colored pencils. I took my color poms and created a sand color by weaving two different yarns together to create a speckled color.
Tam Wim rugs are manufactured in your home country, Thailand. How do you get the designs to the manufacturer? Do you digitize your sketches?
Tam: I do not design digitally; I hand render all of my designs. The drawings are quite detailed for pattern, scale, color and the type of tufting. The mill has a record of my color poms to serve as a reference so that the colors actually produced match my design. At the time of the Stepping Stone rug I would simply mail my drawings, now I transmit my drawings by scanning and emailing. The mill will produce a CAD (computer-aided design) drawing based on my design to aid in the production.
Wow! How long does this process take?
Tam: The design is the creative part, that can take varying lengths of time, I can work on a design for a collection piece for months, for commissioned piece I would say 6-8 weeks. The main production process is hand tufting; the tufts can be cut, which is then called a cut pile, or looped. They can also be carved. These processes allow the creation of various patterns or textures. The wool fibers are also dyed as part of the production process. My own site team inspects each rug prior to shipping. Production time for a new design is about 8 -10 weeks.
There is so much thoughtfulness and care that goes into each rug. What made you want to become a rug designer?
Tam: That’s a long story, it’s one of those serendipitous things. Suffice to say, early in my career I was assigned a project to design a rug and discovered I pretty good at it. What could be more satisfying than taking something from your imagination and seeing it come to life?!