Behind the Design:
Reinventing floor coverings from design to social impact, Nanimarquina has built a distinctive collection of high-quality rugs that fit a wide range of styles and spaces.
Written by Nissa Hallquist
Nani Marquina was influenced by a lifetime surrounded by creativity—and her desire to make her own creative impact on the world—when she established Nanimarquina in 1987. Nearly 30 years later, the company continues to revolutionize the world of handcrafted rugs with unexpected designs and materials. We recently caught up with Marquina to find out more about the brand and what keeps her creating:
Designing carpets wasn’t a decision that was made overnight. I started out by designing prints for interior décor after studying product design. When I started in the ‘80s, I realized that there were no rugs in accordance with the new aesthetics of design. I invested special attention and effort in finding the right raw materials and manufacturing processes from the very beginning; factors that enrich the aesthetics of the designs (and the main reason for the brand’s commercial success).
What most inspires you in your designs?
Craftsmanship is my main source of inspiration. All its aspects fascinate me: basketry, ceramics, textiles. I believe that my passion for art and admiration of nature define the essence of my work. Most of the times, my inspiration comes from my travels around the world. Usually, the ideas just emerge without warning. I’m someone who always has the eyes wide open and any little detail I see during the day can inspire a new design.
How do you define craftsmanship?
I understand craftsmanship as an art form whose foundations rest on the traditions of a community. The aim, aside from the purely functional, is to transmit stories, knowledge, culture, heritage, symbols... This is the identity of a community, village, or country, the intrinsic essence.
As a company, Nanimarquina is very socially conscious. What’s the how and why behind that ethos?
I consider that from my first trip to underdeveloped countries, the experience and situations sensitized me and I felt the need to get involved in some way. In the ‘90s, we decided to relocate all our production and set up there; it was the perfect moment. This allows us to fulfil our wish to boost local economies in these countries and offer new opportunities and improved living standards for local people.
“Most of the times, my inspiration comes from my travels around the world. Usually, the ideas just emerge without warning.”
In addition, caring for the environment goes hand in hand, and more so in countries such as India where this concern is not very prevalent. We strive to enhance our work with the use of biodegradable and recycled products, experimenting with different types of textures and fibers. Our traditional production techniques further contribute towards preserving natural resources for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
To go a step further into the fight against environmental degradation, Nanimarquina has introduced Eco-wash in the cleansing of our collections: the natural washing product Ecosheen is a biodegradable and free of chemicals multienzyme washing product, while powers the bright colors, shine and softness of each fabric.
How do you choose other designers with whom to collaborate?
Initially, I designed all rug models with an internal team but in time, I naturally developed an interest in editing the work of other creators. Collaboration brings freshness, inspiration, experimentation, and guarantees the diversity of styles in our catalogue.
Usually the designers contact us directly with a design, and then we work together, starting a creative process looking for the perfect design and the best way (technique, fiber…) to produce it.
You are known for using some unusual materials in your rug designs. Does a design normally dictate materials, or do materials dictate the design?
It works both ways, depending on the project. Sometimes the material dictates the formal possibilities. This is the case with bicycle tires or jute; the experimentation conditions the technique and thus, the final result.
However, when a designer proposes an idea, they often won’t know which fiber to use and then the process reverses: we have to find the material that best reflects the concept. In any case, it should never be obvious. We like to surprise!
“…the challenge is to go further and satisfy needs or create solutions for less evolved communities: what we consider to be social design.”
Tell us about your father and his influence on your work.
My father Rafael Marquina played a huge part in where I’m today. He was one of the first industrial designers in Spain; he was a pioneer. Every day when he got home with new designs he had created, I was totally captivated, and he passed on to me his great passion—designing.
What direction do you see Nanimarquina heading in over the next 10 years?
Contemporary design has evolved to the point that the concept has taken root in industrialized society. For me, the challenge is to go further and satisfy needs or create solutions for less evolved communities: what we consider to be social design.