Designer Eliza Gatfield on her Ikat rug, with the silk poms she uses for color selection
Custom Cool’s summer Ikat Kilim and Kilim upholstered benches and rugs
A Nepalese artisan surrounded by some of Custom Cool’s bold and colorful designs
Eliza Gatfield fell in love with the art of textiles when traveling in Southeast Asia. A trained architect, she’s now the owner of a bespoke rug and weaving design company, Custom Cool, which manufactures beautiful pieces in Nepal and India under strict fair-labor practices. When she’s not traveling or designing, Gatfield calls Sag Harbor home, though she recently purchased land in Bridgehampton as well. “There is a distant view of the sea and an almost Tuscan feeling to the landscape,” she says. The traveler’s heart clearly never tires.
Why did you make the transition from architecture and interiors to designing rugs? ELIZA GATFIELD: Textile design is a wonderful synthesis of these two disciplines. Nothing has ever given me the same creative fulfillment and satisfaction as the design and manufacture of exquisite textiles and rugs, which can be sensual, visually compelling and just plain beautiful. A truly great bespoke rug can serve to define a space, bring disparate elements within a room together and add the final note of color or texture that makes a room sing.
What’s the first thing you ask a new client? EG:I always bring a wide variety of visual and tactile materials to my first meetings to get a feel for their interests, style and taste. Once I have a strong idea of what they’re looking for, I usually create two to three designs just for them with several color and material options to choose from. When we have selected our final design, we send artwork to Nepal, where the materials are dyed and the hand-weaving process gets underway.
How does your commitment to strict labor practices and sustainability impact the shipping methods or materials you use?
EG: Though it certainly isn’t great for the environment that we have our rugs made in Southeast Asia and then flown over to the US, I feel comfortable with what we’re doing as our orders bring much-needed work to the people of Nepal. Fair wages for weaving are the means through which many families survive. Our goal is to get things manufactured locally to the extent that it is possible. For instance, we’re having the ceramic containers for our candles made right here in Bridgehampton. The candles are then finished at a small not-forprofit in Nashville called Thistle Farms, which helps women who are rehabilitating from lives of abuse, addiction and crime to gain muchneeded job skills and learn responsibility and cooperation. So to the extent we can’t produce locally, we compensate through producing with a strong social ethic.