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Luxury rug company flies the flag for Wallonia's textile tradition
Where does Giorgio Armani go when it wants a new rug for its showroom – or IBM when it needs to give its offices and HQ a new look? Step forward Limited Edition, a pioneering rug and floor covering company that’s flying the flag for Wallonia’s textile tradition.
Katia Dewitte founded the Mouscron-based brand in 1992 in her father’s old woodwork shop. “The idea was to offer unique, tailor-made, high-end rugs for private clients, hotels and stores,” she says. While the town was for a long time a hub of the local textile industry, Mouscron’s factories have dwindled of late. Limited Edition keeps this heritage alive. “We want to be able to show our clients where our rugs and flooring products are manufactured and to introduce them to their creators,” says Dewitte.
Besides the traditional jacquard rugs produced on its ultra-hi-tech looms, Limited Edition specialises in hand-tufted rugs. To create them, artisans use special tufting guns to prick strands of wool and other fibres are pricked into a canvas stretched on a frame. The threads that stick out are then chiselled to obtain a pleasing play of textures and reliefs. Designs are drawn from the archive or, for bespoke commissions, elaborated with the help of clients.
To date Limited Edition has produced some 150 collections. In the early days the fashion was for sisal rugs, but its portfolio now includes wool, mohair, bamboo, wildebeest skin, banana fibre and cowhide – this last one a major innovation of the past decade. Designs have up to 15 colours, and can take two years to develop.
In 2004, after five years of research, Dewitte’s brother James founded a sister brand, 2tec2, which creates environmentally friendly woven vinyl and fibreglass flooring. Targeted at companies, its products are available in more than 120 countries.
What began as a one-woman operation specialising in rug edging has, over the decades, morphed into a multi-faceted group employing 190 people – split roughly equally between Limited Edition and 2tec2 – and bringing in €30 million revenue in 2016.
“We grew by increasing our market share and acquiring other Belgian companies whose carpet-making expertise would otherwise have disappeared,” explains Dewitte. Those acquisitions include weaving experts Arcade, the veteran New Franco-Belge factory and JM Desseaux Handtuft.
Handily, both 2tec2 and Limited Edition can also call on the services of their own in-house dyeing facility – Superdye dyeworks, a research and development asset that’s unique in Europe. Add in France’s Dreuilhe spinning mill, and the Coverfil mill in Mouscron, also now under its aegis, and the company controls the entire production chain.
Post-production, designs head off to the brand’s Brussels and Paris showrooms, or are exhibited at trade shows like Milan’s Salone del Mobile. With their compelling blend of contemporary aesthetics and timeworn artisanal techniques, they have attracted a starry array of clients worldwide: Armani and Microsoft, Dior, the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, L’Oréal and LVMH.
Inspiration comes from regular research trips, painting or graphic design and might begin with a building or graphic design work. The 2011 collection Looping developed after a meeting with Dutch textile designer Hélène Dashorst, and drew on nylon boat rigging. More recently, chiming with a show at Antwerp fashion museum MoMu, they teamed up with Dirk Van Saene – one of the Antwerp Six group of designers – on a limited-edition rug inspired by Belgian painter Rik Wouters.
“Our collaborations with artists and designers allow our company and designers to go beyond their limits and continuously raise the bar when it comes to experimentation and never-before-seen innovation,” says Dewitte. “We accept nothing less than perfection,” she adds – an uncompromising stance that’s still paying dividends after 25 years.
This article first appeared in the Wab magazine, autumn 2017