Andy Guard, Head of design, Roger Oates Design

By Matt Balmer
January 9, 2019

Roger Oates Design is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The company’s distinctive rugs and runners are made from a British Cheviot wool blend that is spun and dyed in Yorkshire before hand finishing in Herefordshire. Andy Guard, its head of design, talks history, the Tate Modern’s Anni Albers exhibition and anniversary plans.

When was the company founded?

In 1989, when the company produced its first Flatweave collection.

How many staff?

We have 31 people in house. We also have a small pool of freelance creatives who have all been with us for over 20 years.

Where is it based?

Our studio, workshop and showroom is in Herefordshire, on the Eastnor Castle Estate. We have a London showroom and a sales manager based in Paris.

What is your latest significant achievement or project of note?

This year we are celebrating our 30th year – we have carved a niche for ourselves, from a hand weaving operation of just five people into a brand with worldwide recognition in the luxury interiors market. We are celebrating all year with a lot of exciting projects.

What is your best-selling product?

Our Venetian Flatweave is our main product – beyond the staircases for which we are known, we also seam it into rugs and wall to wall areas. All in all we produce around 25,000m per year.

I’ve just discovered…

For our anniversary year, we have been delving into the company archives and have found a group of 25 year old flatweave designs that look as if they have been coloured for this season.

Who inspires me…

Our workshop sewing team are a continuous source of inspiration to me – meticulously darning and seaming every metre of flatweave by hand in our Herefordshire studio. They have such attention to detail and love for the product.

I’ve always been a fan of…

Eleanor Pritchard. I was lucky enough to have Eleanor as a visiting lecturer when I was studying textiles. Her work has a wonderful sensitivity and just feels so perfectly refined – I love the way she combines seemingly simple structures with minimal colour to create designs that are beautifully balanced.

My highlight of the last 12 months…

Annie Albers at Tate Modern. This exhibition is astounding – I am fortunate to have been several times and I am discovering new details on every visit. Annie Albers is one of the most inspiring weavers of all time and hours spent gazing at swatches and weaving plans beautifully displayed in a gallery is, in my opinion, time well spent.

My next design trip is to…

We are a small team and are constantly travelling. In the next few months I’ll be in Paris for Deco Off opening our pop-up shop, then Stockholm, New York and Boston. We operate in a global market and it’s important to always see as much as you possibly can.