Rugs have adorned the palaces of the most powerful rulers in history, from the Mughal emperors of India to Louis XIV and Queen Victoria. Weaving them is an ancient skill, one kept alive today by Camilla and Leo Riviere, owners of their eponymous rug company. Riviere Rugs was founded in 2005. Camilla and Leo, who both have backgrounds in art and design, are steeped in the principles of classical and modern architecture and design. Their designs are contemporary in spirit, inspired by their extensive travels in Europe and Asia.
The rugs are woven in a workshop in the Kathmandu valley in Nepal, using age-old traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation. It’s a lengthy process, carried out entirely by hand, without recourse to any machinery. Using the finest hand-carded and hand-spun Tibetan wool, pure Chinese and botanic silk, the rugs are hand woven with a minimum of 100-150 knots per square inch. In addition to wool and silk, Riviere offer a wide assortment of other yarns including mohair, nettle, linen, as well as a range of different knot counts.
The trauma of Covid-19 has affected Riviere less than many other businesses. Most significantly, its workshop in Nepal, being a family concern, was able to keep working in an isolated environment through the pandemic. As a result, there was no interruption in production. In the past, the majority of Riviere’s clients have been interior designers and architects, but since lockdown began the company has been doing an increasing volume of business with private clients. This reflects a widespread resurgence in interest in home improvement and interior design.
As the business emerges into the post-pandemic world, Riviere can look forward with optimism to its ground-breaking collaboration with fabric and wallpaper designer, Zoffany. The two houses have come together to produce six stunning rug designs, to be released in March 2021. This collaboration is the fruit of more than a decade’s creative co-operation between the two companies. The six designs, which have taken more than a year to realise, are inspired by patterns from Zoffany’s extensive archive to which Riviere was given exclusive access. Each design is the result of hundreds of hours of creative endeavour, standing on its own as a new modern classic of exceptional quality.
The rugs are available in any colour, size or shape. Three of the six designs, Kanoko, Suminagashi and Taisho, are contemporary reinterpretations of traditional oriental artistic motifs. Of the others, Jigsaw, is an inventive reworking of the Zoffany monogram while the other two, Tumbling Blocks and Moonsilk, are more abstract in character.
Riviere is a British company that is proud of its British roots, serving its predominantly British clientele from its base in Chelsea’s Lots Road. Last year may have been difficult, but for Riviere the future looks bright. As Camilla and Leo say: ‘We are really looking forward to our exciting new partnership with Zoffany and other upcoming collaborations with some great British interior brands.’