Founded by experienced Ph.D. researcher, printmaker, and designer Jill Zachman, J.Pera Designs creates thought-provoking surface designs that possess the distinction of beginning as original copper plate etchings and lithographs. In her inaugural rug collection; the J.Pera Collection, Jill translates the unique markings of her copper plate etchings into the form of hand-knotted rugs. Each design thoughtfully merges the two distinguished art forms into a single unique object.
“As an author and creator, I try to forge new narratives and possibilities for the future. The world is a living organism with histories constantly changing. As societies change and cultures evolve there is a living contrast of the old with the new. I am enthralled with those moments and spaces. They are the subject of most of my work.”
Each of Jill’s design collections is based on a specific region, with the J.Pera Collection taking its inspiration from the ancient part of Istanbul known as Pera. Bordering on the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Straits, Pera was the center for trade and the termination point of the Orient Express train from Paris to Istanbul.
From land to sea, the region received a widely diverse array of trade, sciences, fashion, and art into the district. The innovations were fuelled by the district’s collaborative interactions among diverse types of trade, cultures, and peoples. Through her designs for Notting Hill Rugs, Jill brings together these contrasting ideas and elements; honouring the innovative nature of this historic urban center.
“I research the areas I travel to with particular interest in the interactions between cultures in old and contemporary cities. I develop hypotheses about the relationships and how they may be reflected in the art, architecture and literature found in the urban environment of today. I modify those hypotheses based on my research and experiences in-country then develop design ideas based off of those relationships and the photographs I take. I create etchings or lithographs relating the story of those relationships.
While she does several types of printmaking, Jill was particularly drawn to etching.
“Etching is gentle, contemplative, cerebral: anticipating the process and impact of chemical ‘biting’ on the copper plate and weights of lines incised. The result is always an interesting balance between predicted outcome and surprise. As I always have been fascinated with textiles, I began experimenting with ways to interpret my etchings and lithographs as woven pieces with all of the integrity of the unique printmaking markings. In this way working with the hand-knotted rug form was a very natural progression for me.”
Jill’s journey from research and strategic planning manager for a large international corporation to principle of J.Pera Designs is a fascinating one and has provided her with the perfect opportunity to combine her creative and research abilities with her love of international travel. It was while standing in the Istanbul Modern art museum in the old area of Pera that a painting by the Turkish modernist Erol Akyavas seemed to speak to her.
“I could feel the sun off the Bosphorus Straits streaming in the window and I had the sense that the painting was speaking to me in ancient whispers. I remember wanting to capture that moment and find a way to create that feeling in others. When I decided to start a business based on my experience in Istanbul and my passion for printmaking, it made sense to name the company after the region that inspired me and to focus on interpreting printmaking marks.”