“We have a recurring fascination with sand and dunes,” says Els Woldhek, who runs the design studio Odd Matter together with her life and work partner Georgi Manassiev. In the summer of 2021, the couple found themselves on several off-road beaches in Corsica, where they saw tire marks left in the sand. “Once we noticed them, we kept seeing them everywhere,” remembers Manassiev, retracing their growing visual obsession. They documented the patterns with their iPhones — different size tires from cars and motorbikes balletically crisscrossing the Mediterranean dunes — and filed them in their research folder.
Cut to a few months later, when Odd Matter were approached by cc-tapis, the avant-garde Italian rugmaker, to create a new collection. “We immediately knew that was the pattern we wanted to pursue,” recalls Woldhek. Odd Matter also knew cc-tapis would rise to the challenge, having already successfully collaborated with them in the context of their research residency at Schloss Hollenegg in Austria. “The rug we made at Hollenegg was based on the abstraction of an old Persian carpet we found in the castle,” explains Woldhek. “It dealt with the notion of legacy — what you keep, what you get rid of, and what you improve on over time.” The new rug for cc-tapis encompasses similar themes, sand being an ancient device used to measure the passage of time, as well as bearing the traces humankind leaves upon it.
Material exploration is one of the hallmarks of Odd Matter’s practice, and the rug project was no different. The duo’s main objective was to reproduce both the visual and sensual quality of the sand. “When you look up close at sand, it has a million different colors, and we really wanted to maintain that as much as possible,” remarks Manassiev. Their solution was to mix wool and silk: “The wool captures the fluffy feeling, and the silk captures the sand shimmer,” explains Woldhek. To get the texture and patterns right, they recreated a small stretch of beach in their Rotterdam studio and manually ran tires across it (not unlike a scene from the 2010 French cult movie Rubber, in which a homicidal tire runs rampage). After photographing the results, they created 3D prints that were used to define the final rug designs. In fact, the formats in the collection still echo the outline of the sandbox in Odd Matter’s studio. When it came to naming their collection, Woldhek and Mannassiev decided to pay homage to their original source: Tonnara Car Park (TCP) — the beach in Corsica where they first noticed the tire patterns.