Sonya Winner: Ethical, Arty Rugs

By Stephanie Slater

We all know it–that ‘new carpet’ smell. It pervades new cars, homes and offices for weeks, sometimes even months.

But what we’re smelling isn’t the carpet, per se – it’s chemicals, such as VOCs, or ‘volatile organic compounds’ , which include toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, styrene, acetone and a host of other toxins, some of which have already made America’s Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Extremely Hazardous Substances. Others are known  carcinogens, such as p-Dichlorobenzene, which can cause hallucinations, nerve damage and respiratory illness in humans.

But it’s not just the material of the carpet itself that can harm your health. Toxic adhesives, stain protectors, mothproofing and flame retardants are often sprayed on floor coverings, and can cause thyroid, immunity and neurological problems. The latex backing of most carpets contains 4-PC, a chemical associated with the respiratory problems that are suffered by many new carpet owners.

So what’s a design-loving home owner to do? Luckily, there are plenty of organic carpets on the market, which use silk, cotton or wool, coloured with vegetable-based dyes, and Sonya Winner’s carpets are a good example of this.

Her stylish, sustainable rugs are ethically handcrafted, and are created mainly from wool sourced in Tibet and New Zealand, but silk and bamboo silk are also put to good use.

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Winner is heavily influenced by art, and it shows: the organic forms of Matisse and Henri Moore are clear in her work, as are the colour palettes of Karim Rashid and Maija Isola, but none of these bright hues are derived from harmful chemicals; rather, non-toxic  Swiss dyes achieve the vibrant colours characteristic of a Winner rug.

Adding to Winner’s ethical credentials is the fact that she gives a percentage of every Nepalese wool rug she sells to help support orphans at the Helpless Children’s School in Nepal, giving a beautiful foundation not only her customers’ homes, but to needy children, too.

We usually think of art as something you’d hang on a wall – but with Sonya Winner’s unique designs and styles, you can also have art beneath your feet!

For more info, please click here.


Chere Di Boscio
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