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Brazil Meets NYC in Joinery's Blankets and Rugs
Surprisingly affordable and wildly popular textiles meticulously hand-woven by artisans in Minas Gerais
by Nara Shin
on 15 August 2014
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Within the Brooklyn boutique's thoughtful selection of well-crafted housewares, vintage goods and hard-to-find clothing labels, one of Joinery's most popular pieces has been their own woven blankets and rugs which are, more often than not, out of stock. These unique textiles were serendipitously discovered in Minas Gerais, Brazil by Joinery founder Angela Silva (who's half-Brazilian), while she was in a nearby region attending her father's wedding, and she made sure to pack a few back home. The initial response to the affordably priced blankets and rugs had reportedly thousands of people on a wait list since the wares are made in small batches, so Silva decided to set a production studio in São João del Rei, which now employs six full-time weavers making the designs they conceive in NYC.

Filmed during a recent trip to Brazil and narrated by Silva, Joinery's new video depicts the rural and self-sufficient town where the textiles are made. Here, the primary occupation of most of the townspeople is weaving, often out of their own homes. "It's sort of like Chimayo, New Mexico," Silva tells us. The weavers work from memory on squeaky wooden looms, powered by their feet—no machines, no sweatshops, just preserving a tradition onto textiles, which (thanks to Joinery) are now living in homes all over the world.

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Interestingly, Joinery originally started out as Silva's personal blog, How to Change a Flat, where she cataloged her inspirations and interests. "Writing the blog, I was really liking the whole research process, just discovering new things; and through that, I had the makings of a store. I was thinking about what this blog would look like if it were a store."

Silva took Joinery into the physical domain in 2012, designing the store's interior herself (she even personally charred the wood ceiling with a blowtorch). Her individual touch has always been part of Joinery's identity, and the timeless shop selection feels intimate and heavily researched, unlike some similarly-minded boutiques that look more to trends or that try to cram too much into their inventory.

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"We work with people who have pretty limited, small distribution; a lot of it is local designers. The focus [is] on having stuff that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else," explains Silva. "That becomes more and more challenging as stores like Urban Outfitters [start to] understand the value of having small, independent designers. It gets really hard to preserve that kind of—'this is a special store where you can find these kinds of things' and you wouldn't find them at a big store. As that happened, the interest in creating our own has been increasing. Our main interest now is the clothing line we're developing and other products we're making ourselves"—like the new rugs and blankets.

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The first blankets Joinery offered were the Diamond and Eagle designs—indigenous to the region, they are two of the oldest designs that the weavers do, but were dying out due to their time-consuming nature and because they weren't as profitable as less expensive textiles. With Joinery's new studio, however, not only can these designs and techniques be preserved and continually made, but the Brooklyn team collaborates with the weavers in Brazil to create new designs inspired by these traditional shapes—a perfect example of Joinery living up to its name.

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The artisan woven rugs start at $38, while blankets cap off at $160; they're available for purchase from Joinery's online shop or in store at their South Williamsburg location. As they often go out of stock, we recommend following Joinery on Instagram or Twitter to learn when the next batch arrives.

Images courtesy of Joinery

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