Bernhardt Design launches textile collection by Taher Asad-Bakhtiari
Growing up in a family of artists and designers with a rich heritage in Iranian tribal culture was fertile training ground for Taher Asad-Bakhtiari. The Tehran native established an internationally acclaimed art career by exploring his family’s tribal heritage, giving ancient craft new relevance in the art world. Asad-Bakhtiari now turns his creative attention to designing fabrics for Bernhardt Textiles. His eponymous collection blends primal craft and respect for time-honoured weaving techniques with a healthy wink to contemporary aesthetics. His textiles are the perfect alchemy of the old world and the modern world. The collection incorporates six unique patterns that are available in 52 colourways.
Taher attracted a global audience with his Tribal Weave Project, which was self-commissioned in Iran. The endeavour combined age-old weaving techniques with a modern artistic vision by reinventing the Kilim and the Gabbeh. The pieces were woven by semi-nomadic tribal women using naturally-dyed hand spun wool. To push the boundaries even further, he incorporated polyurethane yarns into the process. Each piece required up to six months to complete. Taher’s encore was the introduction of his Recovered Barrels Exhibition, which gave new meaning to Tehran’s ubiquitous battered oil barrels, embracing the beauty of their patina as modern design objects.
“I was fascinated by Taher’s Tribal Weave Project, which was based on resurrecting and reinventing an ancient Iranian tribal art form. I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with Taher but had never met him before. Five minutes after the talk concluded I asked him if he would do a design project with us,” states Jerry Helling, President of Bernhardt Design. “And he said yes!”
“I based the patterns on the Bakhtiari tribe’s aesthetic of nomadism and lifestyle,” explains Asad-Bakhtiari. “Nomads weave for different purposes: making carpet, tents, blankets, saddles, cushions, bedding, drapes, clothing and much more. For my collection with Bernhardt Textiles, the essence of Bakhtiari fabrics – raw, naturally-dyed and textural – have been given a modern feel. I wanted them to look handcrafted and naturally coloured.”
“Since a significant amount of his work is based on the art of weaving, he’s a natural when it comes to textile design,” says Helling. “His focal point is the weave structure, making his patterns very authentic. The result is a distinctive collection that features a wide variety including his signature triangle, his family’s ancestral tribal stripe, and several organic weaves with a touch of opulence and sparkle.”
Taher says of the individual patterns in the collection:
“Hendese, which means ‘geometry’ in Persian, is inspired by the shapes in Bakhtiari weaves and needlework. I used the triangle as a bold graphic element in the Tribal Weave project but decided to pursue it in a more abstract interconnected manner in the Hendese pattern. It still has historical context but presented in a new way. There are ten individual colours in this pattern, which balance muted naturals and bold greens and plums.”
“Ashayer, meaning ‘nomad’ is the most personal fabric for me as this pattern has been worn for centuries by the men in my tribe. Ashayer comes in six colourways, with the black/white combination being the most authentic with respect to the Bakhtiari tribal jacket.”
“Baft, translating to ‘weave or texture’ is the pattern that is most typical of a simple tribal weave. I have given the pattern a new contemporary bent by introducing striated coloured yarn into the simple weave structure. It looks very much like a modern blanket or wall hanging and is available in six colours ranging from black and white to rich browns, soft greens and plums.”
“Javaher, which means ‘jewels’ was inspired by the metallic objects the Bakhtiari and many other Iranian tribes used on their clothing and for decoration. Javaher is the most eye-catching pattern as it has metallic silver yarn woven discreetly through the simple black and neutral base cloth. The colour palette ranges from grey tones to steel blue, plum and burnt orange.”
“Babayee with its memorable translation to ‘little lamb’ is a multi-coloured fabric that is both soft to the touch and visually. It is an updated and technically-perfected version of a coarser Bakhtiari weave. Babayee comes in six colours, from blues and greens to reds and gold.”
“Kavir, meaning ‘desert’ is the most basic weave pattern and provides a complement to the other fabrics. The simple weave incorporates a subtle striation across the pattern creating an effect similar to a mirage in the desert. There is a full range of 17 colourways in various hues and shades.”