Artist and textile designer Madeline Weinrib has crafted a sophisticated signature style that is simultaneously timeless and modern. Having grown up surrounded by the world of New York mainstay ABC Carpet & Home, which was founded by her great-grandfather, Weinrib’s own eponymous collection of heirloom-quality carpets and artfully conceived textiles, accessories, and home accents embraces authenticity as one of its hallmark values. Weinrib’s aesthetic is defined by her use of techniques that favor the handmade over the machine-built and tradition over automation.
This season, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Weinrib for “A World of Influence,” a pop-up shop opening in our Madison Avenue flagship today, September 10th. The collection features a variety of objects, from one-of-a-kind found pieces Weinrib has collected on her travels to new home accessories with her signature Ikat style. Not only are Madeline’s own pieces highlighted, but also creations that resulted from collaborations with some of the design world’s most notable names and brands, all personally curated by Weinrib. Standouts include vases made by Federico De Vera, accessories by Munnu, a chandelier by Apparatus—matching one recently installed in Weinrib’s own home—and a limited-edition print by American artist Billy Sullivan. Also included are a line of exquisite dishes, embossed stationery designed by Weinrib for Connor, as well as umbrellas previously designed for the Neue Gallery.
We recently caught up with Weinrib, who’s serving as our September Influencer, for an inside look at her storied career and to learn more about the process of building the exclusive collection, as well as to find out what fashion pieces she’s coveting this season. While many of the pop-up’s items are one-of-a-kind and available only at our Madison Avenue flagship, you can head to Barneys.com to bring one of the pieces into your own home, even if it’s outside New York.
The Window: Given your family legacy with ABC, was the world of décor a natural direction for you, or did you fight against it?
Madeline Weinrib:I was not fighting it, but I was pursuing something I was in love with—fine arts and painting. It wasn’t a rebellious act; I was simply following my creative passion. To my own surprise, I became fascinated by textiles 18 years ago, suddenly viewing rugs and fabrics in the same way I looked at fine art. It was through textiles that I discovered my creative voice.
How would you say that growing up surrounded by beautiful wares affected your personal aesthetic later in your life?
I would have to say my mother was a big influence. She did not work, which wasn’t unusual for her generation, but she did decorate our home. She was focused and creative and really enjoyed creating a beautiful space for us. She mixed periods with confidence, primarily the 70s with antiques. And of course there were carpets everywhere.
How do your inclinations toward fine art manifest themselves in your work? How do art and décor intersect?
I approach my work like an artist— I think of artists as people who are obsessed with their work and their creative process, for whom it’s more of a lifestyle than a career. I think I’ve carried that into my work as a textile designer.
That being said, as I assembled the collaborations involved in my pop-up, I noticed a difference between the traditional definitions of art and design. Each collaborator was provided with the pop-up’s concept, a color scheme—they understood the aesthetic parameters—but were encouraged to bring their own point of view. I didn’t share any creative outline with painter Billy Sullivan, though, and the prints he’s contributed to the pop-up fit in beautifully. Design needs to work with other elements and create a dialogue together, but in fine art, the work is completely self-contained and even looks superficial if too coordinated with the rest of a space. In that way, art and design can be creative partners, inspiring each other to see things differently.
Can you tell us a bit about the partnership with Barneys?
I’ve worked with Barneys for over ten years. They’ve always been supportive of my work, and when buyers would visit my studio, they’d always look around and ask me where I bought certain pieces. I think their curiosity sparked the idea of the pop-up.
The pop-up, “A World of Influence,” is a celebration of some the artists and craftsmen who have inspired me, from old friends to up-and-coming makers, each a true visionary in their own unique way. At the heart of it, this pop-up is about more than new products—it’s an opportunity to share my world and all of the things that make it beautiful.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I would say that my main influences come from my travels. I started to travel to India and Nepal when I began making textiles. At that time, I was also searching for my own point of view as a designer. I took my inspiration from what I saw around me and my challenge was making it my own.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic as far as your designs?
My aesthetic is a mix of East and West, old and new. I like to place certain pieces next to others that traditionally did not belong together, creating a new context. You can see this love for mixing in the pop-up: there are pieces of mid-century furniture updated with my graphic fabrics, giving them new life, and the dishes I made with Augarten are inspired by traditional Oriental carpets, but in black and white, which makes them look contemporary. And of course there are my Ikat pillows. Since I started making Ikat in 2004, the designs have been a fusion between East, West, old, and new.
How does this aesthetic manifest itself in your personal style?
The design of my home and how I dress are extremely similar. It’s about layering. Like my home, I like to mix contemporary western clothing with eastern and buy new clothes and mix them with vintage—it’s through layering of different accessories that one can define their style. This applies to home design and the design of a person’s style.
Any fashion rules you live by?
Only one: Dress age appropriately. In youth, we can wear anything, with cost often being the only real limitation in expressing personal style. As you age, you must put more thought into what you’re wearing—a fun challenge requiring creativity and perspective, but I think it’s at this point in my life where I’ve come to understand true personal style. I view everyday dressing as a design project.