Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 7/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
If life is a patchwork of experiences, Malene Barnett's is stitched from multicolored panels. The daughter of Caribbean immigrants to the U.S., she studied Ghana's native crafts at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Backpacking in Southeast Asia one summer, she found art and textiles to be common threads between civilizations. But in more than a decade of designing rugs for the home lines of such fashion labels as Nicole Miller and Nautica, her ideas were always filtered through someone else's brand. Her global point of view now appears undiluted in Malene B.
Kantha's cut-pile wool, accented with raised loops, reproduces Bengali embroidery. The cut-and-loop wool-silk pile of Papunya replicates Australian aboriginal dot art. Mehndi reinterprets the henna-painted hands of South Asian brides in hand-knotted wool and silk. Bangkok takes its two-tone flow from Thai rivers. To depict the mud architecture of Mali, Timbuktu blends Soumak and cut-pile techniques. And hand-knotted wool-silk Wolof is named for a Senegalese ethnic group known for personal adornment. Hand-sculpted and tufted in any shape or size by artisans in India, Nepal, and China, the patterns are all RugMark-certified. 201-951-0980; maleneb.com. circle 422