For the launch of the New Nike Air Footscape Woven, we worked together with Satara Achille AKA RUG CITY on a 1 of 1 bespoke rug that draws influence from the Footscape elements. We caught up with Satara to see where RUG CITY started and to hear what inspires her work.
Footpatrol: Hey Satara, Hope you’re well, and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! Can you please start with a little about who you are, and what you do?
Satara Achille: Hey! Thanks for having me. I’m Satara – but I also create under the name Rug City. I’m a multidisciplinary artist / designer in London. I make rugs and paint but I also have a background in digital design and UX.
FP: Where do your inspirations come from? And what ignited the spark to start rug making?
SA: I started in the first 2020 lockdown after going through some personal tribulations. So this is really the basis of why I do what I do, and where I draw my inspiration from. It started as a hobby and was all self-taught, with the name initially being a bit of a joke. It was Rug City Bitch from Rack City but I ended up dropping the Bitch and Rug City kinda stuck. At the time, I really wanted to get away from screens, and back to a craft that felt more hands on. My background is in graphics / design and interaction, so a lot of what I do day to day is very digital and screen-based. Tufting felt like the perfect antithesis to that.
FP: Can you tell us about the tufting process as opposed to other rug making techniques?
SA: When I first started making rugs, they were hand knotted and tiny. A ‘rug’ , say, 20x20cm took me about a month to make. Tufting is a bit of a level up from hand knotting. You have a tufting gun, which is some serious machinery. You can make bigger pieces in half the amount of time and you’re not limited to, what I like to call, a ‘pixel mesh’ canvas. You can pretty much draw anything you like with a tufting gun, as well as play with carving and shaping your rugs. My process generally starts from sketching, most of the time on screen. I can also write code so this becomes part of my practice in the design process. Some of my warped designs will go through code, to get a somewhat serendipitous output. Then I’ll project onto the canvas and tuft away. This then gets shaved, cut, glued and then backed. There’s way more to the tufting process than the tufting itself.
FP: There’s an emphasis on type and smiley faces in your works, is there any particular reasoning behind this?
SA: Most of my designs pair tongue-in cheek slogans with contradictory visuals, which comes from having a bit of a rough time with my mental health. My work outwardly says “it’s ok” but with warped and distorted visuals it questions if it’s really ok? Rug City is a reminder that if you repeat something enough, it can become your reality. I love playing with words and visually representing them.
In terms of the smileys, I love 90s rave flyers and how rave culture took the smiley and made it its own. It gave the smiley a whole new meaning and became a totem for running away, having fun and forgetting all your problems. It’s also always used in times of societal turmoil, so felt fitting especially when it all started in the midst of lockdown.
FP: The Footscape was often known for its elaborate patterns and material choices, if you had an opportunity, how, and with materials would you make your own pair?
SA: I’d love to see my rug city smiley pattern on one in chenille, it’s got a fuzzy texture that’s the closest thing to a tufted rug on a small scale.
FP: and something we always like to ask, if YOU were a Nike shoe, what one would you be?
RC: By day a Cortez and by night a TN
FP: For anyone looking to start rug making, what’s the basics you need? From materials to kit?
SA: There’s a fair amount of kit you’ll need to get going with. The basics are a tufting gun and monks cloth, which acts as your canvas and a tufting frame. I think you can get some ready to go frames online but most of these are pretty small so it’s best to custom build your own. And then of course, yarn.
FP: Thank you for taking the time to chat to us, are there any shoutouts or words of wisdom you want to share for anyone looking into picking up rug making?
SA: Lean into the process. Experiment, and Google and YouTube as much as you can. Each rug will get better and better.