What began as a rug design contest at the Fashion Institute of Technology is now raising funds for charity. A June 16 auction of the Art on the Floor Rug Design Contest rugs, featuring FIT students’ designs, auctioned off two rugs to benefit the Alpha Workshops, a nonprofit that connects HIV-positive people with training and employment in the decorative arts, and the Nepalese workers impacted by recent natural disasters. Held at Patterson Flynn Martin’s D&D Building showroom, the auction featured two 9' x 12' hand knotted wool and silk Nepalese rugs designed by FIT students Vanessa Bonilla and Honey Jernquist, fitting the contest’s themed mandate: design a carpet for a fictional couple living in an oceanfront home in Amagansett, Long Island.
Earlier iterations of the Drift (left) and Anemone rugs
As the brainchild of Mike Marcy, owner of Noreen Seabrook, Steve Kleiner, VP of Patterson Flynn Martin, and Deborah Hernandez, design director at Patterson Flynn Martin and also an adjunct at FIT, the contest was created and sponsored by Noreen Seabrook, which covered manufacturing costs of the winning rug designs and also awarded students monetary prizes. The contest has been a part of FIT's "Custom Rug and Carpet Design" course for years, but this year marks the first time the rugs have been auctioned for charity.
The judging panel, which included Michael Boodro, editor in chief at ELLE Decor, interior designers Alexa Hampton and Miles Redd, Marko Marcy of Noreen Seabrook, Maggie Jablonska, production coordinator of Patterson Flynn Martin, and Dara Caponigro, judged 31 submissions based on their creators’ ability to express their fictional clients’ wishes, based on their set of preferences: “They love and collect Japanese fabrics that show repeating patterns, original Frank Lloyd Wright Japanese prints and kimonos. They are fans of rugs by Luke Irwin and Fort Street Studio. They love textural elements and things of the ocean. Their floor is custom wide plank repurposed barn wood that looks like driftwood.”
Jurors recognized Bonilla’s “Drift” design and Jernquist’s “Anemone” design as the winners. The winning rugs were produced Nepal and the winning students each earned a $2,500 prize. Runners-up Andrea Margolis and Joseph Golden each took home a $750 prize, and all entrants received a $50 award. The rugs were valued at between $12,000 to $15,000 each. Drift was auctioned for $5,200 while Anemone was auctioned for $3,100.
The rugs are currently on display at the showroom.