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
GROUNDPLANS’ designs pack a big punch. Whether we are catering to a small child’s mind or to an adult aesthetic, our goal is to entertain, inform, and make something beautiful both to behold and to feel underfoot.
These have been Harrow’s objectives since her earliest days when she produced her first collection circa 1990. She brought nature from the ground into the home, creating trompé-l’oeil topography. From there she expanded and experimented: weaving Fiber Optics and Swarovski Crystal into carpets.
Accepting private commissions from architects and designers on her home turf, the Big Apple, kept her busy. These designers were reshaping the hospitality industry, home furnishings and corporate America and she was right beside them. Keeping a low profile while introducing such luxurious textures as mohair carpets sans pattern, wool tufts on carpets from long hair sheep seasonally felted, hand carving abstract patterns into area rugs, and introducing squishy gel tiles into elevator cabs.
When asked to oversee the production of a carpet for the W hotel in Seoul Korea 2004, instead of just using the architect’s 2 color Western influenced grid pattern Harrow inspired them to bring something of the traditional, local culture to their design. Looking through her archives, she incorporated a traditional Korean flower motif to invigorate these boxed voids. While at first the designers were skeptical, as the concept and design grew they too grew to love it…and so did the hotel occupants. What we were thinking of as a one off became a Hospitality trend.
GROUNDPLANS’ projects have been featured in museums, hotels and private residences around the globe, including the home of Bill Gates, Frank Lloyd Wright and 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.
After shaping a Fine Arts through NYU Gallatin Division in ’79, then called University Without Walls, Harrow’s development to a craftsperson was nurtured by a three year Stencil Dyeing apprenticeship with Keisuke Serizawa, National Living Treasure and 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 in the viability of the handmade to reach a wider market.
She started a hand silkscreen studio, PĒKA PRINTS, in S.F. to produce yardage for home furnishings while teaching at Pacific Basin School of Textiles in Berkley, CA. Her first flooring collection followed with the eponymous name, GROUNDPLANS.
While teaching at Parsons School of Design and working on interior gut renovations, Harrow built up her boutique flooring business to create carpets which would give people a sense of place. Although she caters to the extravagant when embedding fiber optics or Swarovski crystals into her carpets, she offers fresh ideas and innovative products, extending her scope to include her children’s rug line footprints, made to spark 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. Most recently her reach has come to encompass both wallpaper and RE-MIX: making light fixtures and jewelry from a business model using up-cycled found objects and material.
Harrow says her goal is not simply to make a sale but to develop a relationship with each client which mutually inspires and elevates. We welcome collaborative commissions: not only for area rugs but also with jewelry hand-me-downs you might have stashed away.
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, image, 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 4 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.