My name is Carolina Melis and I’m founder of Mio Karo, a brand producing textiles hand made in Sardinia and inspired by traditional motifs. Our current collection includes rugs, cushions and wallhangings and we are now looking to expand into table runners, curtains, table cloths and more. We are based in Sardinia where we collaborate with a a number of local cooperatives. Sardinia has a very strong tradition in weaving and very skilled artisans. This project started with the idea of supporting the local production by introducing fresh designs and promote them internationally.
What makes your work different to any others designers?
In part my background. I’ve worked as art director in London, Italy and China before starting Mio Karo. I’m originally from Sardinia, hence this culture is very close to me, but I’m very aware of the international market. Also having worked for major clients in fashion I’m particularly aware of trends and style.
In terms of productions, our pieces are really unique. This means that you can have an entirely bespoke piece: a motif exclusively design to you, choosing the material and size. We are really interested working with interior designers, architects and individuals interested in commissioning a personalised piece.
This is actually the new concept of luxury: personalised design rather that big brand tag.
What inspired your design products?
I tend to reinterpret the sardinian motifs. Often I simplify something that may look too ethnic. I also get quite a lot of inspirational from music and dance. I studied dance for many years and I see patterns close to a score: on a rug as well as in music a composition is made by chore motifs, pauses, repeats and variations.
What’s your favorite thing about your work?
I love the production stage. I work with severals suppliers, mostly small coops in different villages of Sardinia. The workshops are incredible, full of personality and history.
I also appreciate a lot my space in Promenade du Port in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. It’s a showroom only open during the summer, it’s a great opportunity to meet new potential customers and the company is fantastic.
How would you define your aesthetic?
I’m half danish and half italian, I guess my designs are inspired by both cultures.
I’m quite obsessed by playful geometries and broken patterns. My designs are quite simple yet there is quite a rigorous attention to details
How important is design for you in the context of your brand?
Very important, I can spent weeks on a single design. When you produce something that goes into someone’s, is so important to get it right.
What is the difficulties for young designers in the handcrafted work design?
High end craft is very up at the moment. Hence I would highly recommend young designers to push the hand made. Yet is important to understand the marketing for the hand made. Hand made can be cheap craft or exclusive production.
The final aim of your work is to end up working for a great producer?
As a brand I would love to optimise this structure first and eventually find the support of a large distributor. As designer I would love to work for a bigger brand in the future. I’m not looking at anyone in particular at the moment.
It’s difficult to develop products without a great financing?
Yes, but not impossible. Good planning may help. We manage by cutting overheads as much as possible. For instance we don’t have an office and we don’t stock. Everything is made to order and we tend to finalise the design on paper as much as possible before producing a piece, we rarely get a piece wrong. We didn’t spend on advertising neither, most of our investment goes into production.
Production of Sardinian rugs are very expensive compare to the ones made in Nepal, Marocco, Bolivia etc. We don’t want to cut the costs of production, for these reason we reduced our costs elsewhere.
So whoever buy a Mio Karo piece may not get a glossy catalogue together with their purchase, yet they will get a piece of Sardinian craft heritage.
Where would you like to be employed at the future?
I like carry on with Mio Karo, I feel I only just started. Yet I’m also looking forward working with a larger and more established company. I like what Patricia Urquiola did for Moroso, she was the first designer to create a collection produced in Sardinia and inspired by local motifs.