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Meet the Maker - Célia Esteves, GUR

Celia Esteves and dog Xuxo - Rug by GUR

Photo credit: Rug by GUR
 

Five years after starting her online store, Célia Esteves is excited by the prospect of new adventures for GUR, as she finds herself on the cusp of opening her first shop and moving into a brand-new studio in downtown Porto.

At GUR, Célia works with a variety of contemporary artists, transforming their bright, innovative designs into traditional Portuguese rag rugs, similar to those frequently found on the blue azulejo-tiled floors of villas in Portugal.

Using traditional looms, her rugs are hand-woven from rag material, which has in turn, been fabricated from recycled cotton textiles and linen. Today, Célia has two primary weavers and more than 80 designers, a number that only continues to increase as GUR itself expands into new fields.

Rugs by GUR at Casa Mae, Portugal

Photo credit: Petite Passport
 

Due to the extensive scope in terms of collaborators, she notes that it is difficult to concisely encapsulate GUR’s style: ‘Since I work with so many different artists, each has their own unique approach to design – GUR is very diverse’.

Originally from the small northern town of Viana do Castelo, close to Porto, Célia’s fondness for her homeland is palpable: “In the north, where I live, you are close to the sea, the mountains and the river and for me, this way of life is simply unbeatable’. And it is clear that this partiality for Portugal is also interwoven into the identity of GUR as a business; dedicated to working with Portuguese collaborators as means of establishing GUR as an inherently Portuguese project, she highlights Portuguese designers such as Toino Abel, Rosa Pomar, Arminho, Coracao Alecrim, Madre, as a few key names she is following at the moment.

Handmade labels at Rug by GUR

Photo credit: Rug by GUR

Célia founded GUR back in 2013, after a chance meeting with the traditional weaver Claudia Vilas Boas at an exhibition in Célia’s hometown. Then, still working as a Printer at the Fine Arts School in Porto, Célia was drawn to the creative potential in such a partnership and decided to dedicate herself to starting up GUR with one primary purpose: fusing the past and the present.

Indeed, she says that striking a balance between the old and the new remains a continuous thread in her work. When judging the suitability of artists’ designs for the rugs, there are many factors she has to consider, such as the limitations posed by the traditional handloom techniques, particularly in terms of size and pattern; ‘round or continuous diagonal lines, for example, can often be challenging due to the grid-like structure of the loom’. Nevertheless, she always attempts to respect the original design as much as possible, pushing herself to think outside the box in order to adapt the artwork in line with what the artist would like.

And the things that help her work best? ‘Music, my dog sleeping next to my feet, my team, a sunny day...’

 

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Handmade Rug by GUR

 Photo credit: Rug by GUR