This month we take a slight departure into a different field of design. Carpet design to be exact. Dynamic, bold, colourful and contemporary textile creations inspired by the designer’s travels, far and wide, they have made their mark on the floors of a host of prestigious residential and commercial environments around the globe. Born in The Bronx, New York, of West Indian parentage, our profiled award-winning designer now runs her business from Brooklyn and is a regular guest speaker at design and interiors events on the global cultural calendar. So without further ado, over to you Malene B. The floor is yours.
Malene: carpet designer/president and design director of Malene B Carpets.
What’s your background?
My heritage is Caribbean-American; my mother is from the island of St. Vincent and my father is Jamaican. I’ve always had an interest in colour, painting and design since childhood. Eventually, my interest turned into passion and I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating with a BFA in Textile Surface Design and an Associate Degree in Fashion Illustration.
How did you get started?
After college, I worked for a textile importer and then a carpet manufacturer. From the carpet company, I learned all aspects of their business and decided to create a custom carpet company to showcase my specific design aesthetic.
What challenges did you face in getting into the industry and achieving your ambitions?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was starting a business during a recession. We overcame this by staying focused, keeping a positive attitude and relying on my aggressive networking skills. Our company’s motto: Since we’re starting at the bottom, there is only one direction to go…UP!!!
Who and what are your greatest inspirations and influences?
I am most inspired by the people and places encountered during my many travels. Those experiences are the essence of my brand and because of them, I am able to share a part of their life story through my designs.
What is your best piece of work or the project you are most proud of?
My collection titled Signature. It was the first carpet group in the Malene B brand. It debuted five years ago and it still continues to ‘wow’ people.
What would be your dream project?
My dream is to design a collection for industry giants like Anthropologie and Crate and Barrel, and to work with David Adjaye on residential and commercial projects…His work is beautiful and visionary.
Please name some people in your field that you believe deserve credit or recognition.
All the owners and designers in the rug business. They continue to be a wonderful source of support. To name a few; Tania Johnson, Inigo Elizalde, Jan Kath, Judy Ross and Warp & Weft.
What’s your best piece of advice for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t be a follower…create your own path!
What’s next for you?
Its time to expand into other product categories. I’m working on a crowd-fundraising campaign, which will help finance the development of new products. The campaign will allow customers to pre-order specific limited-edition items and the collection will consist of beautiful theme driven pillows, throws, carpets, tile and more.
For more information visit www.maleneb.com.
‘BRITISH’ is a photography exhibition that explores the multi-cultural nature of British identity by Zadoc Nava. Taking his own iconic ‘British’ T-shirt, a celebration of multicultural ‘Britishness’, as his starting point the fashion designer Wale Adeyemi commissioned photographer Zadoc Nava to document the changing face of Britain. Using the street as his studio, Nava has produced a series of compelling portraits that reflect the diverse nature of contemporary British society. Runs until 29 June 2014 at The Print Room, 34 Hereford Road, London, W2 5AJ. Admission FREE. For more information visit www.the-print-room.org.
REGGAE SUMFEST 2014 will be the 22nd annual staging of the festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Staged annually during the third week of July, the festival is now an established staple on the Jamaican entertainment calendar, attracting patrons from all across the globe, as far away as Australia, Europe, the USA and the African continent. Festival runs from July 13-19, 2014. More information at at www.reggaesumfest.com
A SUBTLETY OF THE MARVELOUS SUGAR BABY. Creative Time presents the first large-scale public project by Kara Walker. Sited in the sprawling industrial relics of Brooklyn’s legendary Domino Sugar Factory, Walker’s physically and conceptually expansive installation responds to the building and its history. The exhibition is open until 6 July, Fridays 4-8 pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 6 at Domino Sugar Factory, South 1st Street @ Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. For more info visitcreativetime.org/projects/karawalker/
Zanzibar International Film Festival 2014. Recognised as the largest film and arts event in East Africa, the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) offers a themed selection of African and international cinema. The festival also features a series of performances, discussion channels, workshops, exhibitions, live music concerts, cultural tours and workshops. This year’s theme is ‘A Common Destiny’, and the selection of films will be chosen depending on their power to ignite common experiences in their diverse audiences by reinforcing awareness of shared experiences, history and culture. Ngome Kongwe (Old Fort), Zanzibar City, Zanzibar. For more information, please visit www.ziff.or.tz
If you have any forthcoming events that you would like to be considered for inclusion in this column, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at info at jon-daniel dot com.