Spotlight On: Square Foot by Lina Miranda
Sao PauloNew York-born designer Lina Miranda has a mission: share the complex beauty of custom, handmade rugs with her adopted country, Brazil. And for Lina, that means not just knowing about the rugs but also the people who made them.
Being a GoodWeave® member helps her achieve just that. “I know exactly where my rugs come from and who makes them. They’re not made in some village or house I don’t have access to or where kids are working,” she says.
Since the start of her career as a designer, Lina has always worked with textiles and “absolutely loved rugs,” having worked with such industry notables as Christine Vanderhurd and Alexandra Champalimaud. Moving to Brazil, however, she discovered that no one had even heard of custom rugs. “Brazil has a different way of doing business,” Lina says. “Ninety percent of rugs are sold through a handful of stores located on one street in São Paulo. Most stores buy from distributors and resellers, who usually have no idea where the rugs came from.”
Speaking with various Brazilian architects, Lina discovered there was an unmet demand for the quality handmade, vegetable-dyed rugs she was used to sourcing back in the US. Lina decided to start her own rug business. Visiting Nepal to research manufacturers, Lina met “some good people, and some bad,” she says. It was important for her to find someone that she trusted—which she found in Lama, the owner of the factory she now works with exclusively in Nepal. “We are literally at opposite ends of the world but we have become good friends,” says Lina.
One of the factory’s selling points for Lina was that it had a school and nursery attached. Lina and Lama were devastated when the government asked the factory to shut down the school, which educated 75 children, as it had not been officially approved by the government. “It was a big loss to the community. Still, we kept the nursery going and invested instead in getting vaccinations for the children,” she says.
In Brazil, the average rug is a massive 300 square feet, so Lama had to invest in larger, steel-framed looms given Square Foot rugs’ heavyweight status. It was a welcome investment for the manufacturer, however, given that Square Foot “gives the factory enough work to keep looms filled at all times,” according to Lina. In addition to Square Foot’s Brazilian clients, the business works with architectural firms everywhere from Paris to Las Vegas.
Square Foot creates one small rug collection each year for marketing purposes, but the rest of its rugs are all custom made, opening up Brazilian homes to the infinite possibilities of custom design. “Houses here tend to be neutral because of all the bright tropical colors and patterns in the natural environment. It’s not unusual for a Brazilian home to be painted six tones of grey,” says Lina. “I try to push people to be more design forward.”
In selling Square Foot’s rugs, Lina tells their story. As Brazilians are unaccustomed to the longer lead times for custom products, Lina works to educate them about the process – and with a GoodWeave licensed factory, that means good working conditions, children’s education and much more. “I tell customers, ‘This is being specially made for you by a responsible factory in a place with a rich tradition of rugmaking.’ People are so surprised,” says Lina. Being a GoodWeave member gives Lina the confidence to tell the story of her rugs – and so far they are selling.
For more information, visit www.squarefoot.com.br, or Lina's blog, Lina Loves Rugs.
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