PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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78 R yan Reitmeyer remembers the moment when he stopped worrying about whether people would get his "ugly" rug designs. Asked to create something for Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's 2015 Texas Design Now show, he submitted two rugs, including one depicting mold spores as seen through a microscope. The other, which had holes, was based on a hurricane fence. The mold-spore rug sold immediately to an interior designer who put it in her foyer. "It was liberating," Reitmeyer says. "I learned I could take something ugly and make it beautiful, and not worry about whether people will buy it." Reitmeyer continues to push the boundaries of design at his new Retorra rug studio on West Alabama Street. It's as much a laboratory for experimentation and creative development as it is a showroom for the design trade. "It's where I play with color and texture and material," says the designer, who holds a master's from The Bard Graduate Center in textile design and history. As the former managing partner for Carol Piper Rugs, he spent 11 years traveling to East Asia, where he bought rugs and worked with weavers on a collection he designed. At 1,200 square feet, Retorra — WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF POSSIBILITY "yarn" in Latin — is sized to keep limited stock on hand. The focus is on custom creations, with worktables for designers and their clients to spread out plans or sketch ideas. There are 12 collections in the Retorra line, with more in the works. The studio also holds the Texas exclusive for avant- garde German rug designer Jan Kath, and sells vintage Polish tapestries from the 1970s, which Reitmeyer discovered at auction. His custom rugs stand out for their unusual colors. "One of the cool things I do is build my own color palettes," he says. Display boards hold puffs of yarn in colors he describes as user- friendly and earthy. "The standard in the rug industry is a big box of 1,200 colors — but, of those, 75 percent are too bright, weird shades, or too saturated," he says. "I started putting together colors that could be tuned to look good no matter what combinations you picked." Some of his favorites are blues and greens, including indigo, periwinkle, and deep watery teal. "A lot of my colors are inspired by nature," he says. Reitmeyer often travels with his family to national parks and has spent hours shooting sulphur geysers in Yellowstone and recently returned from a trip to the Grand Tetons. "It doesn't get more inspiring than that. Anyone who loves color agrees that nature does it best." Retorra, 3637 W. Alabama St., BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHY ENMI YANG. ART DIRECTION MICHELLE AVIÑA. Janka Splashed rug at Retorra Ryan Reitmeyer

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