Canvas Rugs Alfombras for Interior Design Costa Rica
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Festival Attendees Embrace Innovative Art Form as Own

FIA Canvas Rugs DIsplay

Innovative Art Form for Costa Rica

It seems contradictory almost that one of the most innovative ideas to come into Costa Rica is an art form created in the 1400’s. Such was the response from the locals upon viewing my hand painted canvas rugs during the 2012 International Festival of the Arts (FIA) in San Jose, Costa Rica.

When I arrived in Costa Rica 35 years ago, Ticos were fond of saying, “No estamos acostumbrados.”  Translated it means, “We are not accustomed to that.”  At that time, Costa Ricans in general were not open to new ideas or different ways of doing things. At the art festival, however, I found their outlook to be quite different. A rug made of canvas, painted with polyurethane varnish; a rug that can be swept and mopped at the same time using the same method as cleaning floors? Accustomed or not, they thought this new kind of rug  was a fantastic idea!

The wonderful thing for me was that they were coming up with their own innovative ideas of how to use canvas rugs. One young woman, a photographer, suggested she could use a canvas rug painted as old aged wood for certain effects in her portraits. She uses a variety of backgrounds to display her own art; the idea of portable floor art that can be used to display her photographs then rolled up and stored until further use was a wonderfully innovative idea!

Another new client, a masseuse, (who gave me the most incredible stand up shoulder massage right there in the booth!) loved the idea of a beautiful floor covering that would be used during his Thai massage sessions (requiring a futon placed on the floor). He could simply roll the canvas rug up when he moved from various client locations.

The definition of innovation is a new method of idea or product, so the idea of canvas rugs as a portable rug for specific uses was an incredible insight into the innovative minds of Costa Ricans.

Canvas Rugs: Historical Innovation

At each stage of the history of canvas rugs, or floor cloths, each idea was a new innovation. In 1400 century France they were used as wall hangings. In Britain they were used to replicate fancy flooring. In the US, colonists used canvas sail cloth from the ships to cover floors to keep out dust and wind.

With the advent of linoleum, another innovative idea, the use of floor cloths almost completely disappeared, but in the USA during the 1960’s they resurged as an art form. When I read about this art form five years ago I knew it was a perfect product for Costa Rica.

Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of working with local and International interior designers in creating custom canvas rugs for their projects and clients. At the arts festival I was thrilled to have the opportunity to present my art to the Costa Rican public at large; they have seemingly embraced this innovative product and made it their own.


  • Comment by Tina Michaud — April 3, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    Hi Laurel!
    I am always so psyched when I receive your newsletter.Sometimes I feel so alone doing my floor cloths and then I hear from you. It is inspiring and fills me full of ideas which I am so grateful for. I am showing my work again in the gallery this year along with a Raku potter,a photographer and an artist who works in oil, acrylic, and water colour.
    I took time off to illustrate a children’s book this winter and spent 10 days with dear friends in Florida. I will be back in my studio / gallery on the island for the summer. You know Laurel, I have often thought of coming to see you and your gorgeous work in the winter….maybe I will next winter.
    I am getting back to a huge one I am doing for a relaxing area outside of my gallery. I will send you some pictures.
    Always great to hear from you!
    Take good care ,

  • Comment by Laurel — April 4, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Hi Tina,
    Thank you for your kind words. I love looking at your art. We all have such different styles and techniques, and stories to tell, I am fascinated by each one.
    It’s interesting you illustrated a children’s book. I have written many children’s stories but never thought to illustrate them myself. Congratulations on the completion of your project.
    I look forward to seeing your new projects and happy you are enjoying mine as well.
    Take care, Laurel

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