UAE: Earlier this year, Karen Michelle Evans had taken home CID’s Interior Designer of the Year award for her work at HBA International. But it seems that hitting a new high had left Evans looking for her next big passion, and found it in the art form of rug making.
While the decision to leave her post at HBA had come as surprise to most, Evans insisted that it was actually a long planned decision.
Evans explains: “The process I was doing was something I had been researching for a long time and working on for almost a year. I realised it was something I wanted to do more seriously, and I was going back and forth to India and going through the [creative and manufacturing] stages. When you see the rugs being made after five months or longer, with different techniques and coming to life, I got really excited.
“What I felt was that I was going back to my roots and creating again…and doing it in a more artistic way. I’m not a rug designer, but I’m a designer who designs rugs. I look at things differently, so it’s given me a lot of freedom.”
The name of Evans’ new rug company, Ayka, was inspired by the South American Inca Empire, with Ayka being a modernised and more European sounding version. Her trips to the historic and culturally rich region provided her with inspiration not only for the company’s identity, but also for the many limited edition pieces that form its strong artistic character.
Ayka currently consists of five collections: City Landscapes, born from the designer’s love for architecture and fashion; Textures, influenced by the colours and landscapes of South America; Celebration, where the rugs note the energy of people coming together; Floral, which relates to the beautiful, whimsical and ultimately haunting nature of Mother Earth; and Parede, a collection that calls on the fascinating history of Ouro Oreto, Brasil.
Evans’ rugs are made in several different regions in India, which all contribute to various threading and knotting techniques.
Though Ayka is brand new, Evans’ designs have already been internationally recognised. Most recently, the designer exhibited at Domotex and was shortlisted for the flooring award for The International Product Design Awards 2014, in association with Design et al.
While her rugs are already receiving quite a lot of attention, Evans remains as humble as ever, and ensures us that her designs will remain organic—coming from within as a way of self expression, rather than to follow fading trends.
Evans said: “I feel that if people don’t like them then I’m not going to be offended, and if they like them then great. But they are designed with a different thinking.”