Inspired by the ‘Mad Men’ Era, a Park Slope Artist’s Collages Become Rugs and Wallpaper


Park Slope artist Susan Steinbrock isn’t afraid of color. Her new collection of collages made from bright, geometric strips of paper is inspired by the era of “Mad Men.” She started making the collages last winter while recovering from a broken knee, after almost 30 years of hand-painting textiles.

“I was ready for a change. I love the ’50s, ’60s, early ’70s — that time of design — so I use colors that are reminiscent of that,” Steinbrock said last week from the charming Park Slope apartment that doubles as her studio. “When I was recovering from my knee I was re-watching all of ‘Mad Men.’ I love that period.”

brooklyn design susan steinbrock

Steinbrock cut and pasted all winter, completing about 40 collages before getting back to her other job as a gardener in the spring.

Two of the collages have been translated into a collection of handwoven rugs, produced by Brooklyn-based rugmaker Classic Rug. The rugs are made to order in Thailand from New Zealand wool and the company will produce six rugs per pattern, with the possibility of adding more patterns to the collection.

brooklyn design susan steinbrock

“Not all collages would make good rugs,” said Barbara Barran of Classic Rug. “Susan’s do because of the clarity of her designs and her incredible color sense.”

To make the rugs, a pattern is drawn on a piece of monk’s cloth, a thick fabric used for weaving, and stretched on a frame. Then, each stitch is added with a hand-held tufting gun, Barran said. The stitches are secured with latex and jute, and the edges are bound with cotton canvas. The surface is then sheared and hand-carved, then the rug trimmed with a pair of scissors along the edges.

brooklyn design susan steinbrock

A 4.5-by-6.5-foot rug from Steinbrock’s collection, available at Susan Steinbeck Design, costs $4,700, but prices vary according to size.

“They are completely handmade, and the patterns are limited to editions of six, so the pieces are priced as artwork,” said Barran, who has translated the work of famous artists like Julian Schnabel into rugs. “They’re not just rugs.”

brooklyn design susan steinbrock

For those with a smaller budget, Steinbrock also sells the original collages on her website. A 20-by-25-inch collage costs $500.

But Steinbrock mainly created the collages as prototypes for rugs and wallpaper. The artist also has a line of wallpaper based on the collages.

“The rugs are very playful, so I think they’d look great in a child’s room,” she said.

brooklyn design susan steinbrock

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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