Once in a while, the stars align and an artisan, designer and client are a perfect match.
The Homestead, a new luxury safari lodge in South Africa, has been carefully designed to sit unobtrusively as part of the landscape on the edge of Nambiti game reserve. A beautiful building, light in its expansive glass sided form, clad in local ironstone and topped with local flora on its roof gardens - it is the picture of understated elegance. While undoubtedly a luxury lodge, The Homestead also celebrates sustainability to its core. With solar power, recycling of water and electric Land Rovers for eco-friendly game drives - the lodge embraces and respects the environment it resides in.
In the same way, Coral & Hive utilise natural sustainably sourced African materials and they celebrate the long-honed weaving talents of local artisans. Their use of luxury fibres and considered design reflects The Homestead’s desire to spoil guests with all things wonderful from South Africa. The Coral & Hive rugs featured throughout the lodge are warm to the touch and are fabulous in their bespoke designs, which feature The Homestead's story.
The Homestead Rugs
The Homestead guests enjoy Coral & Hive rugs throughout the lodge. From a warm welcome in the reception areas, to the soft bedside rugs, touches of African luxury can be enjoyed. The large, round reception rugs were custom designed by Egg Design, with patterns to reflect the shadows of the old ruins at The Homestead.
In celebration of these talented artisans, let’s take a look at the making process of a handwoven African rug from Coral & Hive.
Coral & Hive creates custom handwoven rugs for natural spaces. To have a Coral & Hive rug underfoot is to ground yourself on a natural foundation. Each rug is a unique creation, lovingly crafted and touched by many hands. The making process involves the weaving together of many elements. A process that starts with the ethical sourcing of local natural fibres, then on to artful design with the creative team, to the large wooden looms, where singing weavers spin and weave the final creations by hand - using skills that have been preserved and passed down through generations.
The weavers are the heart and soul of Coral & Hive. They are talented artisans using traditional weaving techniques - preserving an heirloom craft while bringing contemporary creations to life. They work together, spinning, weaving and singing the rugs to life on the looms.
The rugs are handwoven on large wooden looms. Coral & Hive have one of the largest looms in Africa, measuring 8x5m, which means they can custom create rugs of any size and shape.
The natural fibres
The African fibre rugs are made using pure karakul wool and mohair, ethically sourced from sheep and goats that graze freely under the African sun. Karakul wool is beautifully textured and naturally coated in lanolin - making it durable and organic. Mohair is a soft, silky, luxe fibre. These fibres are blended to create truly unique, textured living rugs.
The making process
Every step from washing, to spinning to weaving and carefully finishing the rug once it comes off the loom is carried out by hand. All rugs are made to order and work starts as soon as design, colour and fibre have been chosen. The fibres are ordered and on arrival, they are spun by hand. The spun fibres are then washed and hung in loops out in the African sun to set and stretch the fibres. The wool needed for each rug is weighed out and put into a large basket for the weaver. If colour is being incorporated in the rug design then the relevant amount of fibre is hand dyed. The next stage is to warp up the loom with strong twine. The artisan draws the design on cotton fabric which is placed behind the looms to act as a template. Then, line-by-line, the wool is passed through the warp thread and the rug starts to take form. When weaving a large rug the weavers sit on a platform which moves up the vertical loom using a pulley system. Once completed, the rug is cut off the loom and the warping tightly knotted to secure the weaving. Finally, the finishing team whip the rugs closed with a large needle and thread of fibre to create a neat seam along the edges of the rug. A final comb and quality check, and the rug is sent off to it’s forever home. A Coral & Hive rug is a beautiful testament to slow, conscious design that will breathe life into The Homestead for its lifetime.