Sommer and Scott Carson of Australia-based Upcycle Studio knew for a number of years that they wanted to set up an eco-business that would reflect their personal and very deep commitment to sustainability. The couple just wasn’t sure what that enterprise would be. That is until they saw a For Sale ad for a quirky little business called Upcycle Studio. Sommer, Upcycle Studio’s Director, says they were intrigued. They bought it and soon discovered just what could be made with upcycled, rescued materials and how making rugs from found of bits of discarded fabrics could make the lives of the workers in distant villages better. Sommer says that with the help of GoodWeave® Upcycle’s customers know what they buy is ethical. “GoodWeave makes us accountable. I love that!”
Sommer studied business in university and worked in the fashion industry and, as Scott, Upcycle Studio’s CFO and self-titled company nerd, puts it, Sommer has always had an amazing eye for design. One of Upcycle Studio’s pieces, Miami Jute Rug, for example, reflects the natural earthy tones of their surroundings in Lake Macquarie. Sommer says what she especially loves about that particular rug is the raw texture of the handwoven jute and ivory wool. The colors, she points out, are soft and muted. That, she says, is unlike the palette of most of the other rugs in their collection which boast colorful and vibrant motifs. “I simply love the natural fibers of Miami Jute Rug and even more, I just embrace the artisan’s work on it!”
At the other end of the spectrum and probably a bit more representative, explains Sommer, is Upcycle Studio’s flatweave Silk Lane reclaimed sari silk rug. This upcycled rug is made up of off cut pieces of sari silk found in the street markets of India. Like the saris that the fabric was destined for, the rugs are bright and vibrant. “When you bring that rug home,” Sommer says, “you are really bringing home a little insight into someone’s culture.”
If there is a family favorite, Sommer and Scott agree that it is the indoor/outdoor Sachi recycled bike tube rug. The hemp and rubber shaggy rug is actually fashioned from strips of bicycle inner tubes. As a reminder of the rug’s origin, there are even little dashes of blue and yellow that might have been part of the tire’s label.
When Sommer and Scott Carson talk about these very unusual pieces there is a certain reverence in their voices. The rugs, whether made of sari silk or bicycle inner tubes, all bring with them a story. “We don’t need to know the history or the exact story,” they say. “What we do know is that the materials have been rescued from landfill or from the kiosks of crowded Indian streets.” There are a thousand stories, they say. But most of all, says Sommer, just knowing that people can take these scraps and turn them into something beautiful is for this couple, enough of a story. The rugs, they say, bring together thousands of stories to make one new beautiful piece of art. “For us it is about making something ethically that is beautiful. With GoodWeave we know where everything is coming from and that the rugs are helping other families in another part of the world.”