Last Saturday afternoon, at Ruschmeyer’s out on the tip of Long Island in Montauk, 1stdibs teamed up with rising design stars ASH NYC to co-host “Mend,” a celebration of a new collection of repurposed tents and kilims by bicoastal rug dealer Woven Accents dubbed the Tent Collection. The team at Woven Accents —who began picking these textiles, made between the 1920s and 1950s, while on buying trips in Turkey — has transformed these textiles into runners, elegant rugs and upholstery materials. The party was conceived of and produced by ASH NYC, who also designed an upholstered day bed and sofa with the vintage textiles.
“I had just watched Lawrence of Arabia when 1stdibs asked me to do the party, and the concept fell into my lap,” said Will Cooper, a co-founder of ASH NYC. “The tents felt like they came right off the movie’s set, so I ran with the theme and modernized it a bit by using the textiles on our contemporary furniture.”
The story of the Woven Accents pieces is an intersection of social, geographic and historical threads. For many, many centuries a herder people ranged over the rugged hills and vast plains of Anatolia. In the spring, they traveled by caravan from the kishlak, the coastal flats of the Mediterranean, to the yaylas, their fresh pastures in the Toros Mountains; and in the fall, they made the return journey, following the same routes as their fathers and forefathers. The Turkish referred to these nomads as the yörüks — or, the walkers.
By necessity, the Yörüks were a simple people of few possessions. They expressed themselves through their food, music and dance — and their homemaking. They may have lived in tents, but Yörük women were house-proud. Brilliant weavers, they wove their own homes, fashioning rectangular panels of durable, natural-hued goats hair and cotton that they stitched together into tent coverings. Depending on a tribe’s flocks, the tents might be in grays or brown tones, lustrous black or even pearly white. Wall panels were then sewn on to the sides of the covering, which was supported by poles and then held tightly in place by woven ropes and stakes. Inside, the women overlaid the dirt floors with homemade felt and intricately patterned kilims. These rugs were woven from sheep’s wool, which they spun and dyed in vivid hues concocted from native plants and roots.
“The rugs are perfect for upholstery because of their flat construction,” says Cooper, describing his experience working with the aged textiles. “The rugs fit perfectly into our aesthetic palette — ivory, brown, black and gray, punctuated by indigo and brick hues.”
Starting at the turn of the last century, the Yörüks began to give up their nomadic existence for more settled, modern lives, and so they had no more use for their tents and all their kilims. Today, many collectors find a wabi-sabi-like appeal in these patched, rustic textiles. “I always try to create spaces that are rooted in classicism, and these pieces never look trendy or dated. They’re so old, yet somehow always feel modern,” says Cooper. “They’re a background and support system for any space.”
In keeping with the Yörüks spirit of patching together their tents, Woven Accents is offering a customization service as part of the Tent Collection. All of textiles can be “patched” together from various tents and kilims, with the color, stitch, pattern and size selected by the client, and the work quickly completed by the specialists at its Los Angeles headquarters.
Click here to view pieces created by ASH NYC from the Woven Accents Tent Collection.