Wendy Morrison Reveals the Meanings Behind her Rug Designs
An exclusive interview with the Scottish designer
Scottish designer Wendy Morrison is known for the eclectic chinoiserie patterns, splendid colours, and exquisite craftsmanship of her rug designs. Making her home in an old Georgian Farmhouse in Dunbar, Scotland, Morrison’s flair for blending bold colours and patterns is apparent in each room.
We find a rug made of deep blue wool, hand-knotted with golden tropical birds. Another one is green with blue birds perched on pink blossoms. The playful colours create a calm and cozy space. Morrison’s house is more than a physical building—its strength and heartfelt warmth are augmented by inspiring colours.
In this interview, the designer shares her inspiration and tips for creating a warm, inviting home with the help of fine rugs.
What kind of stories do you tell in your designs?
I’ve always been interested in Asian philosophy, especially its connection with nature because it’s full of rich meanings that bring us hope and happiness.
In my Chinese Garden of Virtue collection, I use four flowers that are often depicted in traditional Chinese paintings to represent four noble spirits. The flowers serve as an elegant backdrop to a peacock symbolizing dignity and beauty, and to a soaring crane representing a long and happy life.
My Eternal Toile rug depicts ten symbols of longevity in Asian mythology. These symbols are the sun, the mountains, water, clouds, rocks, pine trees, turtles, white cranes, deer, and the mushroom of immortality.
Another rug, Joie de Vivre, depicts joyful life as seen in nature. It’s a vibrant pictorial story, encouraging us to consider everything around us. Crafted during the pandemic, it shows the importance of connecting with the natural world.
How did you first discover Asian culture?
I’ve had this fascination since I was quite young, especially with Tai Chi and Feng Shui. Feng Shui is the philosophy of arranging living spaces to harmonize with the natural and spiritual worlds. For instance, the phoenix is a symbol of good luck in Feng Shui. When used correctly, it’s said to bring positive energy to your life and home.
In my Phoenix design, I portray the mythical creature full of power, life and vigour. At the same time, the delicate, intricate hand-knotting process of the rug creates softness, highlighting every fine line and tiny detail. There’s strength here, but gentleness too, captured by the fine gold and silver silk threads that denote the mystical bird’s power.
Tell us more about how you find inspiration.
I’m inspired by Asian spirituality and its connection to the earth. I’m also interested in human trends, such as what we’re thinking about or what will happen next in a social context.
I love collecting books. I’ve got lots of books with paper notes in them. I shut myself away twice a year and come up with many ideas. Then throughout the year, they will come together. Sometimes they come together quite quickly. Sometimes they need some time.
Do you have a favourite season?
Spring is my favourite time of year. I appreciate the other seasons, but I always have a longing for spring. Winter is just too long in Scotland. In spring, I love the sounds of birdsong, the longer days, buds opening, and plants pushing through the soil—that whole idea of new growth. To me, this is the perfect season for looking ahead.
Tell us about your wildlife designs.
My lifelong love of the natural world extends to the animal kingdom, inspiring many of my handcrafted rug designs.
Cheetahs, zebras, tigers, leopards, deer, and monkeys roam free across the shimmering, colourful backdrops of my rugs. I love seeing animals in their natural environment—it’s a constant source of joy and inspiration.
One of my best experiences was a family safari in the Indian jungle. The natural beauty and elegance of the wild creatures will always stay with me. That amazing adventure sparked ideas for so many of my rug designs.
Describe your ideal space.
I like the idea of creating a space where we feel nurtured and happy. I want to walk into a room, feel uplifted, and smile. Beautiful colours, meaningful art, and quality texture can have that impact.