The Australian wool pieces of Customweave are available in an array of natural dyes and sizes. Designed by Sophie Ellis and Jo Philipson, the rugs are equally visual and tactile: Hanging near the store’s entrance, for example, wood butterflies dance across a chocolate-colored alpaca field, punctuated by leather-tassle dewdrops.
Gentle and soft like cashmere. Fine and clean like linen. A less expensive alternative to silk. Related to edamame. The Australian design house Customweave employs a sophisticated soy yarn for its Soy Luxe line of custom hand-tufted rugs. A Soy Luxe rug is “therapeutic to walk on and evokes the senses,” says Katherine Power, Customweave’s in-house designer. Besides its calming effects, the rugs are hypoallergenic. They also provide a balm for the soul, since the yarn comes from what remains after a soybean’s meal and oil is extracted, which would be wasted otherwise; the fiber that wraps around the soybean’s husk is processed into yarn. It took a Chinese scientist well over a decade to turn raw soy byproduct into usable form; Customweave’s Frank Ricco spent another year making the soy yarn suitable for rugs. The company now custom-manufactures the fiber, which is stronger than wool and possesses an eerily lustrous quality, as the Soy Luxe line. Purchasers choose unique combinations of weight, pile height (from 12 millimeters to deep shag), thickness, density, and shearing. Designs frequently blend textures and include contrasting materials, such as leather cut pile or leather stitching. One especially interesting combination: Power fastens rods, made by Sydney glass artist Benjamin Edols, onto rugs to magnify the soy fiber’s texture; the glass also exaggerates the glossy patterns endemic to the fiber. The Soy Luxe line will expand to include a less expensive machine-made carpet range in the future.