The works in the Groundplans collection overturn William Morris’s beliefs that only flat pattern was suitable for a floor carpet.- Contemporary Rugs: Art + Design Christopher Farr
At GROUNDPLANS we believe that beautiful products, sustainable materials and ethical sourcing are inextricably tied. Since our start at the 1990 ICFF show, our company has evolved from our founder’s creative vision to an ethical and sustainable home furnishing brand and philosophy. As we’ve strengthened our relationships within our business, with our makers and with our clients, we’ve created a unique tapestry of our own connection and commitment to our values that starts in New York City and weaves its way around the world.
We design for and with each of our clients – whether catering to a child’s sense of play or to an adult aesthetic, our goal is to make something beautiful both to behold and to feel underfoot. While our architecture and interior design clients have been reshaping the hospitality industry, home furnishings and corporate America, we have stood right beside them bringing unusual, biophilic motifs to the floor. Behind the scenes, we’ve introduced luxurious textures including mohair carpets sans pattern, wool tufts on carpets from rare long hair sheep seasonally felted, hand carved and then felted abstract patterns into area rugs, and squishy gel tiles for elevator cabs to make the ride fun. If Eileen Gray – a great inspiration for Jody Harrow, could create a ruler rug in the 1940’s – there was no limit to what Groundplans could do.
GROUNDPLANS’ projects have been featured in museums, hotels and private residences around the globe, including the home of Bill Gates, Frank Lloyd Wright and with such venerable brands as Herman Miller, Time-Warner, Calvin Klein, Starwood and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, as well as Tory Burch and Versace retail stores. Groundplans works have been included in magazines such as Town & Country, The New York Times, and Cover as well as book publications by designer Christopher Farr and and former President & Editor-in-Chief of DC Comics Jenette Kahn.
After shaping a degree with a Fine Arts focus at NYU Gallatin Division ’79, Jo Harrow’s development as a craftsperson was nurtured by a three year Stencil Dyeing apprenticeship with Keisuke Serizawa, National Living Treasure and a founding member of the Japanese Folk Craft (Mingei) movement.
Upon returning to the States, Harrow studied with and became a personal friend of Rudolph Schaeffer, founder of the California Arts and Crafts Movement. He along with Mr. Serizawa and later her dear friend Lenore Tawney shaped her belief that the handmade could be made for a wider audience to enjoy.
She started a hand silkscreen studio, PĒKA PRINTS, in S.F. to produce yardage for the home furnishings industry while teaching at Pacific Basin School of Textiles in Berkley, CA. Her first flooring collection followed with the eponymous name, GROUNDPLANS – circa 1990. This collection was designed to bring the beauty of earth’s topography indoors. From there she expanded and experimented: weaving Fiber Optics and later Swarovski Crystal into carpets – one bead at a time.
When asked to oversee the production of a carpet for the W hotel in Seoul Korea 2004, instead of using the architect’s 2 color Western influenced grid pattern, Harrow inspired them to bring something of the traditional, local culture to their bespoken carpet. Combing her library, she incorporated a traditional Korean flower motif to bring these boxed voids to life. While the designer team was at first skeptical, as the concept and design developed they too grew to love it…and so did the hotel occupants. What we were thinking of as a one off evolved into a Hospitality trend – instead of exporting our “look”, we brought the sights of the native culture onto to their home turf – literally. Locally, with a new build hotel on the Boston Commons, we inspired the architect to give a nod to the original Prison Motif. Groundplans continues to make carpet designs with materials and patterns never seen before.
While teaching at Parsons School of Design and working on interior gut renovations, Harrow continued to build her boutique flooring business by creating carpets which would give the inhabitant a sense of place. Although she caters to the extravagant when embedding fiber optics or Swarovski crystals into her carpets – one bead at a time, she offers fresh ideas and innovative products, extending her scope to include her children’s rug line footprints, sparking a child’s imagination while stimulated their sense of play. She has stretched the boundaries of bespoken flat-woven, hand-tufted, felted rug and gel tile flooring – step on it and the colors move underfoot. Most recently her reach has come to encompass both wallpaper and RE-MIX: making light fixtures and jewelry from up-cycled found objects – Earth’s material. Harrow sees herself as part of a collaborative process.
Harrow says her goal is not to make a sale but to develop a relationship with each client which mutually inspires and elevates. We welcome collaborative commissions: not only with area rugs but with interiors, lighting and jewelry as well.
When it comes to Eileen Le Guillou’s affinity for design, it is hard to differentiate between nature and nurture. Growing up alongside the GROUNDPLANS company, she learned to speak the language of business development, client specifications, and sourcing details. From a young age she has been interested in color, composition, symmetry and fashion.
Throughout high school and university Eileen balanced her math, computer science and engineering studies with after school and summer classes in painting, fashion and industrial design at Central Saint Martins as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology. Committed to applying her technical training to public service, Eileen worked as a project and product manager for IBM public sector consulting services for 5 years, leading large scale technology implementations.
Merging her management experience and love for design and function, Eileen joined the Groundplans company and Groundswell by Jo brand full time in 2018 to focus on growth and development of new offerings.