“My best seller is a cactus rug with a silk border,” says Phyllis Ripple, owner of the Boulder-based company ecoFiber Custom Rugs. “It’s organic and elegant, and nothing like your front doormat.” Although she does use wools and silks, most of her chemical-free, handwoven creations are fashioned from unexpected fibers such as hemp, cactus and nettle that grow wild in remote regions of Nepal. “I love that I can make a huge design statement using rough materials not previously associated with anything fine,” she adds. Ripple, thanks to her geophysicist husband, has lived in exotic locales all over the world, but it was during their years spent living in Pakistan that she caught the rug bug. “It was the perfect place to get a rug education,” says Ripple, who now has 40 looms throughout the Kathmandu Valley and eschews factories so mothers can work and still be near their children. “Our designers have access to the latest computer design programs, but the weaving is done exactly as it was 100 years ago,” she says. “It’s an exciting blend of technique and technology.”
LX: I love what I do because...
PR: It reflects my fundamental values. All of my fibers are harvested by hand, all of the weaving and finishing is done by hand, and we use solar power to reduce our reliance on electricity.
LX: Work approach:
PR: As a member of GoodWeave, I’m committed to their efforts to get children off the looms.
LX: Who is inspiring you now?
PR: My dye master has over 30 years of experience in the formulation of vegetable dyes. He’s like the poet of color blending.
LX: Design muses:
PR: Mark Rothko, traditional Sumba weavings from Indonesia and central Asian textiles.
LX: Dream collaboration:
PR: I’d love to work with Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design. They are a dynamic presence in the West.
LX: Favorite hotel:
PR: My family went tent camping at the Little Governors’ Camp in Masai Mara, Kenya. Our stay included daily visits from a warthog family and elephants that came to investigate the breakfast spread.