The most sustainable rugs on earth are wild and woven, but not from human hands. These organic rugs are made from green groves, wildflowers, branches, roots, saltwater, fresh soil and sands — mother earth’s most glorious carpet! Though we wouldn't dare compete with the wild beauty of nature's rugs — for we would stand no chance — we relish in the opportunity to cite our source as mother earth and the stunning natural cycles that perpetually replenish and revive.
Inspired by earth's cycles, Alchemy is one of our best-selling rug collections that carries the same eco-conscious signature. Handwoven in Jaipur, India entirely from recycled silk saris and excess wool, our Alchemy rugs are made luminous by sun power, low-impact dye baths, and closed-loop water washes. Evolved over the span of the nearly 20 years, the exclusive Alchemy process is a living solution, one that creatively uses our environment — for the good — to intentionally compose colorful, ethereal designs.
turning metal into gold
In 2003, abc began a partnership with a well-respected manufacturer in India known for its daring and experimental processes. The seed of their idea was simple: collect, wash, and handspin silk saris into yarn. Sari silks were an entirely uncharted territory when it came to weaving materials. Untamed, recycled materials are notoriously difficult to respin.
The original alchemists — medieval forerunners of chemistry — sought to change base metals into gold through experimental trials of transformation with an endgame of discovering a universal elixir of youth. While the cure for mortality has yet to be discovered, what remained in the word is the mysterious truth of transformation and the natural desire to turn what is ordinary into superior form. "That’s what alchemists do," Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist. "They show that when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
Alas, challenges turned into vehicles of inspiration. abc funded the technology and time, and witnessed the process mutate and transform for the better. A chunky knot count slimmed into finer weaving, the designs more curvilinear and ethereal. The collection itself transformed, too; beginning with ikat patterns and spiraling into different collections until finally Alchemy gathered them all, its core philosophy ringing all too true.
silk sari — the flower of the desert
Silk saris are the ideal material for an alchemy like ours. Silk is the fabric of India — the second most populated country in the world — and silk saris are worn daily by Indian women. When gifted as a ceremonial object, silk saris can be adorned with heirloom jewels. Always, they speak in color.
In the arid desert of Rajasthan, women wear bright silk saris to uplift energy and spiritual mood. Pops of orange, hyacinth, deep purple, and rich reds bloom and light up the pale palette of the sandscape — like how lightning bugs offer freckles of light to a blue black sky. "Flowers of the desert" the silk saris are called. May they bloom, bloom, bloom.
Our partners upcycle the forgotten or discarded silk saris and gather them for a deep rinse. Sorted by color into magical piles of tinted texture, the spinners then re-card and handspin the sari silks into replenished silk yarn. Alchemy rugs were exclusively woven from handspun sari silk until 2015 when the project upleveled and worked upcycled wool into the process. Potential was ripe for upcycling as tons of excess wool from mills are wasted. The Alchemy team developed a symbiotic relationship with the mills around Jaipur, gathering their so-called waste and handspinning the fiber back into treasure. Tapping wool gave our weavers more creative space to play with texture and, with their expertise, naturally lead to more intricate designs.
embrace the imperfect
Truly one-of-a-kind, each Alchemy rug becomes its own elevated experiment where master artisanship and innovative technology join forces and work wonders. Low-impact overdye baths and a closed-loop system of water washes elevates the foundation of recycled fibers, putting forth a luminous shine. After every wash, the team of artisans assess the state of the rug and perform the necessary alchemy to ensure that every Alchemy rug is gold. Nothing is wasted during each session as our state-of-the-art technology captures and purifies all of the water and dye for the next rug.
The designs are celestial, airy and tender, lending well to the handspun sari silk yarn and wool, which is full of oddities and pretty imperfections that react in wild and spontaneous ways. There is a surprise within every knot.
more than a buzzword
In 2021, sustainability is a buzzword. Normalized within the culture of corporations is to greenwash, but care is not care if it is after the fact. Since 2003, abc's sustainable initiatives move towards inventive and creative processes that lower our collective footprint, and ensure we play our part in creating more wholesome systems of production.
The core of the abc philosophy has always been to gather tools of the past and the future to cultivate a more intimate relationship with our surroundings, whether that be home space or green spaces. There is no better handmade object to begin with than with a beautiful, sustainable rug. Rugs are, after all, the footpath of home.