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High Point, People, Previews

Artist & Muralist Katie Merz Talks Kalaty Rugs, Glyphs & More

Visual artist and muralist Katie Merz sits down with RugNews.com to talk about her expanding Kalaty rug program, her murals and glyphs, and where she finds inspiration.

Carol Tisch
visual artist and muralist Katie merz and mural
Brooklyn, New York, visual artist and muralist Katie Mertz grows her Kalaty rug lineup at spring High Point Market.

HIGH POINT, N.C.  – Kalaty Rug Corp. is expanding its licensed area rug series, Katie Merz x Kalaty, and two new collections will debut at High Point Market, April 22-26, at the company’s International Home Furnishings Center showroom, G-369.

The new collections, sportsglyphs and brklynwrks, are power-loomed of 100 percent polyester, and feature exclusive glyph designs modified in scale and palette for interior furnishings. “We have no doubt the new collections will draw a wide audience not only for fans of Katie Merz’s popular urban mural artwork but for those looking for something that is truly unique artwork for the floors in their homes.” Explained Ariel Kalaty. The new lineups follow the successful launch last April of the artworks and colorwrks collections, adapted from the artist’s ink and watercolor works on paper.

The new brklynwrks collection is power-loomed of 100 percent polyester, and feature an exclusive glyph design by Merz.
Shown, Bklynwrks BK-1271-A

“The artwrks and colorwrks collections, which were introduced in 2022, have been very successful, and we anticipate equally great success if not more with the new bklynwrks and sportsglyphs collections,” said Kalaty. “These first four area rug collections are just the beginning of what we anticipate will be an ongoing and highly creative collaboration with Brooklyn’s inimitable mural artist Katie Merz.”

Inspired by Katie Merz's drawings, the colorwrks collection was introduced by Kalaty in 2022. Shown, CW1061-A

To Kalaty, Katie’s artwork was instantly captivating and unlike anything he had seen before. “At our first meeting I was able to envision a wealth of possibilities as to how we could translate Katie’s singular style of artwork into rugs that would be entirely unique artistically … authentic artist-inspired rugs. The possibilities of what may come next are not only exciting but seemingly endless.

RugNews.com delves into the collection from the artist’s point of view in this exclusive interview with Katie Merz:

For those not familiar with your designs and style, how would you describe it?

KM: My signature mural art is created spontaneously and comprises dense glyphs and words in wild orientations, depicting local themes and icons, often relating to the history and culture of the location. The results echo both traditional graffiti and the friezes of classical public buildings.

Showcasing her iconic spontaneous murals, brklnwrks from the Katie Merz by Kalaty lineup debuts at market. Shown, BK1270

Your work takes street art to the next level. Is that why it’s so adaptable to product design?

KM: I deliberately use cartoon-like line-art as a form of social documentation and commentary, in common with the best street artists of the past 35 years. The glyph patterns create complex, non-linear narratives which can cover a sneaker or a building with equal effectiveness.

From where do you draw inspiration?

KM: I am inspired by the perfect scale of great architecture and the incredibly thoughtful design of well-made things with a purpose, which create harmonic and unified forms.

A Merz Mural features 9,000 square foot freestyled hand-drawn mural in the middle of downtown Brooklyn.

Describe how words become symbols in your art?

KM: Usually when I work on murals, I begin by making a list of words that are relevant to the project’s location or theme and all of its physical and practical properties. From the words I make a few singular images - these are the glyphs.

Tell us how you create stories with your glyphs.

KM: One simple word can lead to many dynamic symbols. My imagination will multiply the uses and visual properties of any word exponentially. Since language is about clarity of information - when I hear a word that is related to a physical or mental process - I try to think of the clearest information or symbol that universally represents the word so that anyone and everyone can read the word in visual form as they can read a sign.

Featuring glyphs inspired by baseball the new Katie Merz sportsglyphs (SY1260-10) debuts at the Kalaty showroom 

How important is scale in your work – and your rugs?

KM: It is critical to find the right scale for the situation at the beginning of a project. It is like finding the right tone or meter for a musical piece. The scale of the rugs and their design mean that the narrative can still be read. Rug making is an ancient art form - it is very thrilling to see it taken in a new direction inspired by street art.

What’s important to you with regard to your area rug program?

KM: I love the idea of bringing the outside -- street and park energy -- into a home. I enjoy working with a specialist like Kalaty -- they integrate production expertise from around the world with a great design aesthetic, with a product which still has handmade and quirky - not too perfect - qualities.

Katie Merz's signature mural style and glyphs offer a modern playful look. Shown, sportsglyphs SY1265-10

Describe the use of color in your rug collection?

KM: The colors Kalaty added are subtle and different from my regular palette, but they allow the art to work within a home and furnishing context.

Favorite products on which you have collaborated so far and why?

KM: This is hard to answer because my collaborations are all so different and appealing for different reasons but as I am an avid cyclist wherever I may be, it has to be my work with the Rapha and the Specialized brands on their retail stores and products which are utilitarian and worn by me daily.

Katie Merz draws her glyphs on a variety sneakers, including Converse, Vans, Keds and is launching a design with BLANX.

Why is your art so popular on active wear – from sneakers to yoga clothes?

KM: It is basically a wearable public art form, to be used while in motion – doing what I love most. These also bring my passion for New York City into cohesive designs inspired by architecture and emotions from a day in the saddle. We have now applied that same urban dynamism to skateboards from Volatile and new pet products from Design Styles Home, inspired by an active life with my dogs in city parks.

And what other home products projects have intrigued you?

KM: For different reasons, I really value the collaboration with Valdese Weavers. The development around themes of sustainability and fabric manufacturing was a full team effort. Creating the murals in the historical heart of our weaving industry and traditions was additional inspiration, and the final fabric patterns and color treatments are fantastic. Valdese has integrated their imaginative problem solving with a great design aesthetic. The end result is perfect. The colors are subtle but lively without overwhelming

Merz has collaborated with Valdese Weavers to create a range of sustainable fabrics.

What about the Seaqual initiative?

KM: The fact that this [Valdese] project was also a part of the Seaqual Initiative is so great. I am excited to see Valdese putting such an emphasis on the use of recycled materials in fabric, to the extent that they are even making sustainability a theme of the designs.

trans-ocean ad spot hri rugs