Karnor and Zeko present: Open Studio

[UPDATE: Registration Closed]

For those who wish a more comprehensive understanding of the carpet design and crafting process, a unique, first of its kind design event launches this October in Kathmandu, Nepal….


Perhaps you are a designer, artist, or creative already working in textiles and rugs or perhaps you share a passion for handwork craft and artistry; maybe you are a retail or trade-only rug showroom considering working directly with makers in Kathmandu but don’t know where to begin, or if it is right for you; you might be a seasoned industry veteran or even a new graduate looking to establish a repertoire of skills unique to carpet making. If this is you then consider participating in Open Studio.


Open Studio is the first of its kind design event in which participants will spend two weeks working closely and intently with skilled craftspeople, industry experts, and production management to gain in depth understanding of the nature of carpeting making in the early 21st century.


Open Studio will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal on the campus of the Karnor Carpet Manufactory.


October 29 to November 10, 2023.


Open Studio is intended to foster and reinvigorate interest in the storied and time honoured craft of Tibetan carpet making. Since the modern carpet revolution began in the late 1980s, accelerating through the 2000s, Tibetan carpet making has continually evolved to suit the needs of the time. This open studio is part of our approach to the next era of carpet making.

If your interest is piqued, keep reading for more details and then submit your expression of interest, via this Google form. [Registration closed as of August 19 2023]


An overview of Open Studio

The firms of Karnor Carpet Manufactory and Zëko Design proudly announce a novel and unique design event which celebrates the longstanding traditions of craft, creativity, and collaboration within the handknotted rug and carpet trade. For a two weeks this autumn, the firms will co-host a group of forward thinking design professionals who aspire to a more elevated understanding of Tibetan carpet making. Through daily seminars, hands-on instruction, and an immersion into the orchestration of carpet making itself, participants will gain unprecedented access to information to better inform their creative work both during the studio and beyond.

The inaugural Open Studio will occur at the Karnor Carpets Manufactory in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Kathmandu, Nepal from October 29 to November 10, 2023.

Zëko – Tibetan for ‘beauty crafted’ – will curate a shared studio space in which creatives will have the opportunity to engage directly – in real time – with weavers as they craft the very work of those designers. This distinctive opportunity to further understand the vibrant nature of Tibetan carpet making while working in situ with Karnor’s expert technicians and craftspeople, presents novice and seasoned designers alike a rare look into the so-called mystique of handknotted carpet making.

In addition to two weeks of studio work, participants will be able to immerse themselves in the rich culture and history of Kathmandu, Nepal. Located at the crossroads of historic trading routes, the dynamic multi-cultural city is home to countless temples, flavourful cuisine, seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a plethora of long fabled adventures waiting to be experienced. For those who seek new perspectives and inspiration, Kathmandu is home to countless opportunities.

Would be participants in Open Studio are individuals with a keen interest in designer textiles, specifically handknotted rugs and carpets, who likewise possess a desire to better understand the nature of their crafting, if not also a desire to design their own rugs and carpets. Participants will be able to submit up to three designs which will be woven into sample maquettes during the open studio with participants interacting directly with the weaving and finishing processes. 

Zëko Designs and Karnor Carpets present Open Studio: An exploration of craft for rug and carpet designers.

Ideal for those already working in the rug and carpet trade who wish to elevate their understanding or for those with a nascent desire to learn more about the craft of carpet making and design, Open Studio is an intensive introduction to the intricacies of high-caliber couture carpet making. For two weeks this fall, October 29 – November 10, 2023 participants will enjoy a dedicated personal workspace within the larger collaborative open studio from which they will create and refine artwork concepts to be made into individual rugs and carpets as well collections. Each creative will enjoy daily seminars on materials, construction, and finishing; access to expert tutoring, advice and counselling; and have at the ready, weavers capable of translating their designs into woven maquettes.

In addition, participants will also tour significant cultural and architectural sites, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; have the opportunity to enjoy ethnically diverse local cuisine; and experience an inspirational and storied city as it blossoms from provincial to cosmopolitan.

With full access to Karnor’s main 10,000sqft facility including weaving, washing, and finishing in addition to the offsite dye shop, this uncommon deep-dive into handknotted Tibetan carpet making offers unprecedented access and insight which only a manufacturer as adept and progressive as Karnor can provide. Open Studio is a distinctive opportunity to further your understanding of the vibrant nature of handknotted Tibetan carpet making while working in situ with the experts at Karnor who have been crafting rugs and carpets for generations.

The $1,500 (USD) participation fee covers studio space and facilities access, all training sessions and instructors’ fees, materials for up to three sample maquettes, weaver and supporting staff fees, daily lunch and refreshments during studio (M-F), as well as opening and closing group dinners and the weekend sightseeing tour. Airfare, accommodations, visa fees, and all other meals and expenses are the responsibility of the participant.

Open Studio is open to anyone, but physical constraints limit the number of participants. Deadline for expression of interest is August 18, 2023. In the event interest exceeds capacity, spaces will be filled via a portfolio assessment and lottery.

To submit your expression of interest, please complete this Google form.

Savoir-faire at your Disposal

Modern carpet manufacturing in Kathmandu, Nepal is a complex industry with many manufacturers, exporters, and subcontractors all working to satisfy market demands for customized handknotted rugs and carpets for upmarket clientele the world over. For this reason, Zëko Design has partnered with its sister firm Karnor Carpets to present this first of its kind event.

Karnor Carpets elevates themselves above other carpet exporters by also being the manufacturer with the majority of all rugs being woven at the firm’s 10,000SFT dedicated onsite weaving facility; likewise, all finishing is done onsite at the Karnor Carpet compound. Only dyeing is contracted out to an expert dyemaster, as without exceptional colour rendering a carpet can be lifeless. Moreover, all of this is overseen and managed by the second-generation owners of the firm as well as a dedicated staff, some of whom have been with the firm for decades.

It is this concentration of expert savoir-faire which Karnor Carpets is offering to you as a prospective carpet designer during Open Studio. The entire creative and production team will be at your disposal to both ensure your initial collection is sampled and ready for presentation at the end of your Open Studio experience, but also to assist creatively as you work alongside other creatives, and indeed the weavers themselves, to distill the incomparable beauty and culture of Kathmandu into your future work.

Moreover, Karnor Carpets has enlisted the assistance of Michael Christie, The Ruggist, to be your personal liaison there to assist as needed. With over twenty-five years experience working in every aspect of the handknotted rug and carpet trade, a passionate love of Nepali-Tibetan carpet weaving, and in recent years a deep-dive into manufacturing in Kathmandu, his expertise is widely known and respected. Not only that, but as a weaver himself, he will be working in the studio with you to facilitate a better understanding of the nature of Nepali-Tibetan carpet making. Michael will also serve as the emcee and discussion leader throughout the Open Studio.

Timeline and Studio Schedule – Subject to Revision

Handknotted carpet making, like most forms of manual weaving, is a process best described in modern vernacular as slowmaking. Time, measured by each and every single knot tied in a carpet, is required to create even small samples – maquettes – of much larger finished works. As such, each participant should have complete (or nearly complete) the artwork for a small three design rug collection prior to traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal for the Open Studio in October. During the Open Studio participants will be intimately involved in the weaving process as all three samples from the collection are woven. Finished samples will be shipped to the participants after the event.

Friday, August 18, 2023 – Expression of Interest Deadline

Friday, September 1, 2023 – Confirmation of Participants

Friday, September 15, 2023 – Payment of $1500 (USD) participation fee due.

Friday, September 29, 2023 – Artwork due for at least two of three designs.

End of October – Travel to Kathmandu

Open Studio Schedule

Day Theme Details
1 Arrival Welcome Dinner
2 Intro First look at participants’ samples woven.An introduction to carpet making.
3 Structures Cut maquette from loom. Re-warping of loom. Seminar: Density, Structure, and Design – Carpets as sculpture not drawing.
4 Colours and Dyeing Observe and interact with weaving of second maquette. Offsite tour of Dye Facility.
5 Finishing and Design Observe and interact with finishing. Seminar: Materials matter: Wool, Silk and more!
6 Kathmandu Cultural Tour Bespoke ‘Best of Kathmandu’ Cultural tour by Responsible Treks: Patan Durbar Square, Swayambunath Stupa, and Pashupatinath Temple.
7 Kathmandu Cultural Tour II Bespoke ‘Best of Kathmandu’ Cultural tour by Responsible Treks: Patan Durbar Square, Swayambunath Stupa, and Pashupatinath Temple.
8 Finishing and Design II Observe and interact with finishing. Prepare final design for weaving. Seminar: Introduction to Galaincha Carpet Design Software
9 Responsible making (Re)colour final design for weaving. Group Interaction. Flex time. Seminar: Sustainability: More than just the Environment.
10 Finishing and Design III Freeform interaciton with production. Seminar: The Importance of Finishing
11 Final touches Observe and interact with weaving of final maquette. Seminar: Fair Trade, LabelSTEP and the Ethics of Carpetry
12 Discussion Group discussion and review of collections. Seminar: The Future of Weaving. Closing Dinner.

Logistical Considerations

Karnor Carpet Manufactory is located in Jorpati, Kathmandu, Nepal a short drive from the iconic Bouddha Stupa. Participants are encouraged to book accommodations in the Bouddha area for maximum ease and convenience. Most reputable hotels offer airport transfer.

Potential participants are reminded of personal responsibility and are strongly encouraged to research and understand the travel requirements of Kathmandu and Nepal. A tourist visa is required and available at the airport upon arrival; a fee is charged. Open Studio has been created with the 15 day tourist visa in mind.  Most mobile providers offer international roaming service in Nepal, contact your provider for more information; domestic (Nepal) sim cards are available to tourists for a fee.

Open Studio concludes just prior to the start of the signifiant holiday Diwali. Also known as the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual ‘victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.’ For those seeking an experience beyond the usual ‘tourist’ fair, Diwali offers a different perspective on Kathmandu.

Further Information

For general inquiries, logistical assistance, and recommendations for accommodations, please contact either Mr. Urgyen Wangchuk of Zëko Design at urgyen@zekodesigns.com, Tsering Neckyab of Karnor at info@karnorr.com, or Mr. Michael Christie, The Ruggist, at openstudio@theruggist.com