Esti Barnes’ textural, often intricately sculpted rug designs have received no shortage of industry recognition and awards. Although Esti is perhaps best known for trademark techniques such as surface carving, smooth colour transitions and decoupage, the complete Topfloor archive covers a wide range of styles, colours, materials and artistry. We’ve been looking back at some innovative but lesser known designs to discover the inspiration behind them and how they tie in with Esti’s ever-evolving design style.
Two distinctive pieces that caught our eye are from the Ottomania collection, which, as the name suggests, is inspired by the cultural riches of the Ottoman Empire.
This hand-tufted design, called Kaftan, draws on the geometric patterns used by the master tailors and imperial kaftan makers of the Ottoman court of the late 16th century. Reflecting the silk sheen and imperfections of handmade gowns, the colour gradually swells from one corner to the other and the edges are finished in a deliberately irregular way.
From the same collection, we have chosen Bohca, which means ‘bundle cloth’. During the Ottoman period, hand-embroidered silk and satin patchwork bundle cloths were used for carrying the bride’s trousseau and other valuables. This rug perfectly combines antique textile and architectural references, in that the geometric floral patterns in the central section are a reinterpretation of a bohca from the 16th century, while the border pattern references the stone-carved architraves of Istanbul’s Sehzade mosque.
These two rugs, while very different, both reflect Esti’s cultural heritage, which remains an important influence on her designs. Kaftan is also a great example of colour shading, which has become one of Topfloor’s signature effects, seen in designs such as Esquire Evolution, Envelope, Emmenthal and Edge:
More contemporary in style but again drawing on Esti’s own background is the playful Embed, which celebrates both the familiar and the exotic. Its brightly coloured silk buttons and quilted surface are inspired by displays in the mattress and quilt shops of Esti’s neighbourhood when she was a child in Istanbul.
Another strong influence for Esti is nature – the shapes of ripples on water, a cracked riverbed, the branches of a tree or, as in Esquire (above), the facets of a diamond.
Although part of the 2D collection, Every Stone uses clever shading to create a three-dimensional effect in which the stones appear to float above the rug.
It’s an understated, elegant design that feels calm and restful – the perfect finishing touch to a neutral colour scheme.
Also taking its lead from nature is Erosion, which is reminiscent of a snowy mountain. Contour lines ripple across its surface, creating a subtle but tactile and beguiling effect.