New Feats of Felt

“The artists that inspire me blur the division between fine art and craft,” says Melina Raissnia, who has put a contemporary stamp on the ancient art of felt rug making. Passionate about industrial and organic shapes, the 36-year-old designs rugs that look more like details of Fortunato Depero’s Futurist paintings than traditional floor coverings. And she has found a growing audience for her work: last winter, Raissnia relocated her store, Peace Industry, from remote Inverness, California, to a sweeping showroom in San Francisco’s stylish Hayes Valley.

Felting is a natural fit for Raissnia, who studied painting but found herself obsessed by objects and patterns—so much so that when her husband, Dodd, gave her an Iranian felt rug, she was compelled to visit Iran to learn about the dying art. In 2005 the couple opened a workshop there, training artisans in the laborious process of felting—combing and arranging wool, sprinkling the fabric with boiling water, rolling it up, and walking on it. With five designs based on Persian mosaics debuting this summer, and new layering techniques that produce blended colors, Raissnia’s vision of fusing craft and artwork has found an ideal outlet—and a swanky, spacious new home.

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