The history of textiles is rich with culture and tradition, but also exploitation. With powerful conglomerates searching out affordable labor in underdeveloped regions of the world, we have to ask ourselves what we contribute to this model in the interest of comfortable living.
Ikea, the Swedish furniture company has received scrutiny for, allegedly, knowingly working with manufacturers in third world countries that use child labor. Even though Ikea has explicitly stated its disapproval of the use of child labor and other exploitation of workers in less-developed regions of the world, it also acknowledged that it is hardly possible to know for certain whether child labor is used or not with certain manufacturers.
The rug, called “Ferle”, was designed by Paulin Machado and is “inspired by the sea and by the topography textures … that surround it.” The fact that the rug, machine-crafted in Egypt, is mass-produced in a Third-World country raises concerns and questions of fair production and compensation for the people who crafted the rug. In contrast to the mass-produced product, the typography is screen-printed. The laborious process of screen-printing is a reference to political counter-movements, specifically for this project: the protesting against the exploitation of human labor and certain areas of the world.
“You just sit there” is a double entendre: it can be read in a colloquial way, implying a friendly gesture and invitation for someone to sit down on the rug for conversation, rest, and enjoy a temporary private space. Conversely, it can be read with a more sharp-tongued, critical tone: while you have access to the luxuries this store offers, and you know where its products came from (and that child labor may have been used in the creation of this product) you still and do not take action to counter this, likely because it is not ‘part of your reality.’ The typographic treatment reflects this problematic and distorted sense of complacency we often have in the west (or first world).