Olivier Charles, founder of Cannes-based Edition Bougainville, grew up in the South of France in a family whose roots in the world of home design and decoration spanned several generations. When, as a young man, Olivier chose to study art history and then to launch a bespoke rug company, the decision seemed natural. His decision to join GoodWeave was equally natural. “We never thought of doing this for any commercial benefit,” he says. “Child labor is simply unacceptable!”
Many of Edition Bougainville’s rugs, such as those in the Renaissance collection, pay homage to Olivier’s family’s archive of 18th century furniture, fabric or wallpaper designs. “Pompadour”, for example, is a hand knotted wool and silk or all silk piece inspired by the design of marquetry of an 18th century chest belonging to the Marquise de Pompadour. Meticulous attention to detail and research goes into Edition Bougainville’s more contemporary pieces as well. Olivier (for whom the ocean and sailing is a personal passion) says the outdoors is the inspiration for some of the more contemporary designs such as the Inspiration collection. He points to “Fjord”, a wool and silk or wool, silk and nettle piece. It was based on photographs from a trip the Bougainville team took to France’s reed covered marshes of Camargue.
Although Olivier has been in the rug industry for a quarter of a century, he says he is endlessly excited and still often surprised and challenged by some of his projects. He points to one project in which the client wanted “exactly the same carpet” as in the office of Louis XIV in the Palace of Versailles. Oh yes, and that’s not all, he says with good humor. “And the client wanted another rug exactly like one in Marie Antoinette’s Versailles bedroom!” That, of course, meant endless research and acquisition of formal permission from the Palace of Versailles.
Another assignment, a rug for a Middle Eastern royal palace, presented exciting challenges both in terms of design and size. The rug, whose design was a synthesis of both Oriental and classical French 18th century aesthetics, was almost 5000 square feet! Oliver Charles says, however, his biggest and most pleasant surprise is always the careful and beautiful work the weavers do to create these magnificent pieces. He refers to the artisans who make Edition Bougainville rugs as his “family” and says, without a doubt, he wants them to be safe and happy. “We live with the carpets and we are able to live because of the carpets,” he says. “We just want to support the country where our carpets are made!”
For more, visit www.editionbougainville.com.