Saturday, 30 May 2009

Verner Panton and Unika-Vaev. An Unsolved Question for an Iconic Vintage Rya Rug

With machine woven rugs, manufacturers usually never mention the original designer's identity. On the label stuck to the backing of most of these rugs we find the following information: quality, composition, size, name or reference, manufacturers name and address. Only a minority provide the name of the original designer and the year of its creation. You would imagine that you would be able to find the information within the paper catalogues of the manufacturers, but these are quite difficult to find as the rugs were often not considered as valuable collectibles, so that when we do get one of these carpets, they tend to remain unidentified. For rugs and carpets made during the 1970s, sometimes the adverts or press articles can provide the information required. But very often the attributes given tend to be made subjectively, and to a large extent depend on the skills, experience and objectiveness of the text editor. This situation still prevails today, preventing this field of design from gaining in credibility and value.

Unika-Vaev, Rya/Finlandia 50, Denmark. Copyright de Noronha Collection

The rug design shown above belongs to the iconic Scandinavian rya rugs produced in the 1960s and 1970s. This particular rug is generally attributed to Verner Panton, but my research has not enabled me to confirm this statement without reservation.

The following information is provided on the label in both English and Danish:

Manufacturer: Unika-Vaev, Copenhagen, Denmark
Department: Unikataeppe
Collection/Reference: Rya/ Finlandia 50
Other colours: brown/orange, blue/violet, red/orange
Sizes: 90cm x 170cm (36" x 76"); 140cm x 228cm (4' 6" x 7' x 6");
228cm x 228cm (7' 6" x 7' 6")
Material: Scottish and New Zealand wool

Unika-Vaev means 'unique weave' in Danish. The company was the chief supplier of fabric for the ICF Group. In 1975, ICF purchased the name 'Unika-Vaev'. The company still exists today, but now only produces textile fabrics.

The design clearly recalls Victor Vasarely's Op Art work. Verner Panton very often used concentric and imbricate squares in his work. In his textile design work for the Mira X Collection, another reference manufacturer for the designer, we find his signature printed clearly along the selvedge. For this rug that is not the case, and there is no monogram woven into the rug either. When conducting my research, I found on the web site last year, other ryas with similar large and small square designs, referencing Verner Panton. Those were produced by Ege, another major Danish vintage rug company. In Verner Panton, The Collected Works the comprehensive reference book from the Vitra Design Museum, the rug is not represented in the chapter dealing with Unika-Vaev textiles (pp316-9).

The question of finally attributing this design remains open, and any contribution towards the closing of this case is welcome.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

1 comment:

arto keshishian said...

gaetano pesce did a similar design for herman miller