Editors’ Pick: Haut Beau Handwoven Rugs By Alec Sutherland
The muted tones and linear designs of Montreal-based Alec Sutherland’s rugs are the result of long hours of weaving and knotting, trial and error, and of course, patience. But the finished product is always lighthearted in design, just like the name of his company, Haut Beau.
“Haut Beau is kind of a bilingual pun: ‘haut’ meaning ‘high’ or ‘superior,’ and ‘beau’ meaning ‘beautiful.’ But when it’s pronounced with an anglophone accent, like my own, it sounds like ‘hobo,’ which conjures up the exact opposite image,” says Alec with a laugh. “And in addition, it rhymes!”
Alec’s first foray into fiber arts was crochet, grace of his sister during high school. Then ten years ago, he taught himself to knit. From there he became interested in textiles.
“My mother gave me a simple frame loom around five years ago, and I’ve been weaving ever since. I guess I owe everything to the women in my family,” Alec says. “My sister is a doll maker and my mum was a seamstress at one point, so it must be genetic.”
Rather than pull inspiration from a daily musing or moment, Alec’s rug designs evolve out of play or experimentation on the loom. “With the more optical designs, it’s often a technical challenge I pose to myself. So it’s not a spontaneous spark of inspiration, but the evolution of long hours and process, sometimes starting with little sketches on napkins.” Most of his pieces are made to order by hand, meaning each one is unique.
The decision to create rugs was born out of Alec’s appreciation for their utilitarian nature and functionality, in addition to having an aesthetic quality. Continuing along in that vein, Alec is interested in and plans on weaving fabric for upholstery or clothing, making sure his work continues to have a dual function: looking good and serving a purpose.
This month, Alec debuts new designs at Wanted Design in NYC and is venturing into new territory with his pieces, creating tufted and more sculptural rugs. We can’t wait.