20th Century Design

At Fort Street Studio, Art Takes the Floor

By Brie Dyas

Founded in the early 1990s by artists Janis Provisor and Brad Davis, Fort Street Studio has become known for its exquisite carpets that explore color, form and symmetry. Their latest limited-edition collection, Progetto Passione, takes the concept of a rug as functional art one step further. Rather than being another element in a room’s decor, each of the eight carpets is intended to make a statement. The complex designs take four to five months of loom time to produce, limiting each edition to five or less. We spoke with Provisor and Davis about the process behind Progetto Passione, which will be on view 1–29 June at Fort Street Studio’s New York showroom.


How does Progetto Passione differ from your other work?
While we hope that our Fort Street Studio collections are of high aesthetic value, we don’t approach them as art. We expect them to blend with the other elements of a room and speak to the interior designer’s point of view, not ours. With this collection, the intent is very different. We embarked on it as a project without constraints. While each rug can be integrated into an interior, each stands on its own as an individual statement. Living with these rugs is like living with a piece of art.  


What inspired Progetto Passione?
We often take design retreats, where we can work in seclusion. For the past several years we have gone to a small town in Italy, north of Rome. For this project, we decided to push ourselves into previously unexplored areas. Each design was based on watercolors and collages that we both worked on and developed from an intense dialogue between us – we don’t usually work together so closely. While not specifically thematic, each carpet emphasizes drama rather then subtlety. They all share simple, iconic forms, strong color or high contrasts of black and white, and the glimmering metallic sumac threading running throughout.


Alhough each design is a standout, do you each have a favorite?
Brad: “Canto Full Color” for its complexity
Janis: I would choose “Strada Pink” for its beauty.  

To achieve depth and complexity, each rug from this series could incorporate as many as 30 colors. Can you tell us briefly about the process behind the collection?
The rugs incorporate real metal, the kind used for computer filaments, which is woven with our signature wild silk. It’s an unusual, time-consuming technique. A carpet like “Shado” might look simple, but the large area of metal proved technically challenging. It is also very difficult to weave with this many colors. We have only six weavers who know how to do this kind of work. They are masters of their craft, and we wanted to honor them with this collection.


Are the designs in this series close translations of your paintings?
We’re not great fans of taking original art and translating it into rugs. That’s just a reproduction, and often not as interesting. Even if the initial ideas are worked out in a watercolor, which may be very meaningful in its own right, we think of the painting as a “working drawing” for the end result – the finished carpet is always the star for us.

Progetto Passione, presented by Sotheby’s, is on view 1–29 June at Fort Street Studio, 22 East 19th Street, New York.

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