Flat Works Rugs by Ethan Cook

Inspired by his decorative woven wall art, Ethan Cook’s Flat Works is a series of handwoven kelim rugs designed for HAY. Featuring a geometric abstract design, the rugs translate the designer’s bold colour-blocked artwork into practical and decorative items.
We visited Ethan in his New York studio to learn about his creation process.


Flat Works is your first collaboration with HAY. Can you tell us what drew you to this project?


Ethan Cook: I’ve never made anything with utility before, so creating Flat Works has been exciting for me. It’s satisfying to make something that will be used and enjoyed by so many people.


I really connect to HAY’s ethos of ‘design for all’. HAY has had great designers create accessible pieces for their collections, and I am honoured to be one of them.


How would you like to see people use their Flat Works Rugs?


Ethan Cook: Obviously they should go on the floor, as they are rugs. The rugs should be walked on, played on, napped on. I think people should really use them!


I like the idea of the Flat Works Rugs being a stage for your life. You stand on the rugs while you cook, while you socialise, while you live. They are a stage for living.



You weave your own canvases for your paintings. How did this come in useful for understanding the design process for Flat Works?


Ethan Cook: The Flat Works Rugs are inspired by my woven works. My work is inspired by nature, the history of abstraction, music, architecture, movement, humanity, and bodies in space.


I also looked at the rugs of Frank Stella and other artists to see how they translated wall works into floor ones.


All of this helped in the process of retaining my own artistic style, a soft-edge geometric abstraction, and shifting into a new medium.


There is a dichotomy between your art, which are singular pieces, and the Flat Works Rugs, which are produced on a larger scale. Are there any ways in which you bridge that gap with this collection?


Ethan Cook: Although Flat Works is utilitarian design that is produced in higher volume than my art works, they are still crafted in a way that feels authentic to my work.


The bridge that I see, apart from the idea of the weaving itself, is that there are slight variations from piece to piece from the weaving and dyeing processes. To me, this speaks to the handcrafted element of Flat Works that is so important to me.


In your artistic practice, colour is essential. How did you choose the colours and combinations for the Flat Works Rugs?


Ethan Cook: The Flat Works Rugs are all based on previous woven works of mine. Sol Lewitt has said regarding color "I take one color I love and put it next to another color I love". I place a battery of colors on my table, then move them around and squint until they achieve an equilibrium of harmony and disharmony.

About Ethan Cook


Ethan Cook was born in 1983 in a small town in Texas, USA. He moved to New York in 2008, where he now lives and works in Brooklyn as an artist and designer. Best known for his abstract woven art with bold colour compositions on self-produced canvases, Ethan Cook’s minimalist works are a study of structural simplicity.


He has exhibited with groups and at fairs since 2009, with solo exhibitions since 2014. For HAY, Cook has designed the Flat Works collection.