From the Refrigerator to the Floor
Rug designer Phyllis Ripple's latest venture is bringing children's unbridled artistic spirit to life
For 10 years, Phyllis Ripple has been creating eco-friendly floor coverings through her company, ecoFiber custom rugs. The Boulder-based boutique designs and manufactures handmade rugs from Nepal for architectural and interior design trade professionals. Her products are of an extremely high quality and take up to 12 weeks to produce, since they employ traditional methods of spinning, natural dying, and weaving. Every yarn is spun by hand. Every rug is hand-knotted in Nepal, totally sustainable, organic, and chemical- and child labor-free.
Her venture has successfully outfitted numerous custom spaces, making statements for homeowners and designers alike. But her most recent creative endeavor grew both from her love for her children and her desire to encourage artistic spirits everywhere.
4 Favorites is Ripple’s new children's rug company, which aims to bring beautiful rugs straight to consumers and at a faster pace—and with a creative edge. Ripple has created this company to focus solely on translating original artwork (namely, children’s art) to consumers’ floors.
For example, take a look at the child's original artwork on which the above bluebird rug design is based:
The idea came to Ripple as her children were moving out of the nest and into their own apartments. “They eventually wanted their own ecoFiber rugs, and I wanted to do something different for them,” Ripple says. “I came up with an idea to turn my favorite pieces of their childhood art into the designs for their rugs.” The finished products turned out so well that Ripple’s marketing and PR team encouraged her to take over this as a niche business. “I’ve been working with rugs and original art for a long time,” says Ripple, “so this was a no-brainer.”
And it was perfect for another reason: This concept further encourages the unbridled creativity she took so much care to nurture in her own children. For most of her kids’ childhood, Ripple’s family moved numerous times overseas because of her husband’s job. “I couldn’t always move with furniture or toys because there was a limit on what we could ship. But I always kept my kids’ art.”
Child's original zebra artwork
Finished zebra rug
To Ripple, transferring a child or grandchild’s art from the refrigerator to the floor confirms that child’s sense of accomplishment. “The pride that kids have when they see their drawings reflected in a rug is just so rewarding for me,” Ripple says. And it’s a personal endeavor for her, because she believes creativity can be snuffed out very early in a child’s life.
“Past around 8 years old, most kids abandon thinking of themselves as a creative person, and I just think that is so tragic. The artwork that most parents seem to respond to is that of naïve experimentation, before the child is aware of any outside influence or what their friends are doing. It’s a much more unfiltered way of creation, and it’s so original.”
Child's original sheep drawing
Finished sheep rug
Since children’s art is usually very simple in terms of composition and color, she says, it translates quite well into a small-sized rug. “I started out with the smaller rugs because it’s a very versatile size, but you can add in more detail with larger rugs, too.”
Because of the need for a quicker production time, the 4 Favorites line of custom-made rugs is of a slightly lower quality than those of ecoFiber—there’s a lower knot count; they range from conventional dyes, which don’t contain any heavy metals, but are not organic; and they are hand-tufted, instead of hand-knotted, in Nepal. However, Ripple notes that there are three levels when it comes to 4 Favorites’ quality, the highest of which is on par with ecoFiber’s and is reflected both in price and lead time.
Take a peek at just a little more of what Ripple does with 4 Favorites in the slideshow below, from monograms to finger paint.