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Under the Sea: Tai Ping's latest rug collection illuminates the ocean's deepest expanses.

Oceans are facing irreversible destruction. The global plastic waste crisis continues to loom large--since 1950, a staggering 6.3 billion tons of plastic detritus has landed in our waterways, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife. This past year, a dead sperm whale carrying 13 pounds of plastic waste washed ashore in Indonesia, whose coral reefs rank among the world's most disease-prone. (Scientists compare plastic's impact on coral to a human contracting gangrene.) Dire circumstances notwithstanding, our natural waterways offer an endless expanse of mystical grandeur. Water blankets two-thirds of the earth, yet the near-endless depths of marine environments remain largely uncharted.

This sense of wonder resonated with Juliana Polastri and Ariana Massouh, lead designers at rug purveyor Tai Ping, whose latest line, Tides, pens a love letter to Poseidon. "There's still so much to be learned about the sea," says Massouh, who cites the plastic waste crisis as a chief inspiration. With Tides, they took a deep dive. The nine-piece collection sails through an array of maritime ecosystems where flashes of dazzling bioluminescence punctuate the ocean's murkiest depths.

To rediscover water's fleeting beauty, the duo revisited techniques first learned during their artistic training. The medium quickly became the message. "We utilized meticulously hand-painted watercolors to create fluid, ethereal compositions," says Polastri, who subjected each to a series of resist-dye techniques. The color palette melds metallics and pastels with splashes of intense color, resulting in Opaline's grainy textures--ditto for the spectral marbling effects found in Marine and Apogean. The waterfront's sun-soaked sensations abound in Coraline, whose shimmering glow belies the endangerment of Earth's most essential resource.

Emulating water's luminescent qualities while capturing the delicate majesty of its wildlife required material mastery: wools, silks, and fine Lurex unite to forge a dynamism emblematic of the ocean itself. By employing clever pile height variations and cuts, each pattern is uniquely dimensional and depicts wave-like gestures--no easy task given the flat canvas. But Massouh approached the challenge with steely resolve. "With our precious ocean life under threat, it's our urgent responsibility to act."

BY RYAN WADDOUPS

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Title Annotation:OBSESSION
Author:Waddoups, Ryan
Publication:Surface
Date:May 1, 2019
Words:341
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