The design world is lamenting the shuttering of Madeline Weinrib’s eponymous textile company, and the burning question remains…What’s next? Luxe spoke with Weinrib, who will continue to bestow the world with handmade, colorful textiles, rugs and home accessories…you just might have to hop on a plane to find them!
You’ve been in the design business for twenty years, starting with a studio and a paintbrush.
I was frustrated as an artist. I felt I everything I was doing was derivative. With textiles, I was able to create an original body of work and a unique design language. Key elements of this language were the ancient iconographies of different cultures I got you know through my travels. I refined these historic symbols and injected them with color. I find myself returning to this Henri Matisse quote for inspiration: “Art should be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue.” I always strive to create items that provide this kind of moment of rest in one’s home.
Your father owned ABC Carpet & Home and was a solid business person. How did he influence the development of your brand?
My father was a great mentor for me. He was hardworking and passionate about what he did. He did advise me not to make cotton carpets–about that he was wrong! Sometimes you must go with your own beliefs.
You’re a strong advocate for artisans and craftsmanship, as well as helping local communities, how has today’s retail environment impacted the crafts?
When my cotton carpets began to sell well, it was incredibly exciting. We were able to employ many weavers. We were able to provide homes, medical care and fresh water. Unfortunately, all the copies have made this system unsustainable, which is really heartbreaking.
How has e-commerce changed retail?
The real pleasure of shopping is gone! I have a very fond memories about spending the afternoon shopping with my late mother and having lunch together. It truly was a bonding experience for women–the fun of finding things was an adventure.
Why close shop now?
Sadly, my passion and the reason for doing this is lost. I was faced with two options: close or sell out. I could never be a sell out, so it is time to start anew.
What’s next for you?
Recently, I became a partner in a boutique hotel in Morocco called El Fenn. I have been staying at the hotel since it opened in 2004, and fell in love with it. It’s filled with beautiful strong colors, amazing contemporary art and has a relaxed and sexy vibe. It’s my home away from home. I will be focusing on the hotel’s boutique. We are collaborating with local artisans and we will make product exclusively for the shop. I am not in favor of an e-commerce platform for the brand. I feel it takes away from the experience of travel.
What about New York?
I acquired a studio space on 21st Street, which I will move into after much-needed renovation is completed in November. I’m not sure what I will be doing there; I do have many ideas, but I am not ready to talk about them.
You’ve run an enormously successful brand. What advice can you share with our readers on starting fresh?
I have never had a business plan! However, I do feel you must believe in your own vision, and build a brand that you’re passionate about. It’s important to have your own ideas without compromise.
Check out Madeline Weinrib’s blowout sale, running through June 15, online while you can.