Over Coffee with Lucy Upward, Editor of Cover Magazine at Jan Kath. | The Ruggist.

Zum Kaffee mit Lucy Upward | Bochum

‘As long as you think it could work and that anyone would be interested.’ was the affirmative reply I received from Lucy Upward, Editor of COVER Magazine, when asked if she would be willing to be interviewed as part of my series ‘Over Coffee’. ‘We’ll do it over afternoon coffee at Jan Kath’s during ‘A Family Affair’ I replied, ‘I think it has the potential to be quite interesting. It will be a fun exploration of our thoughts, handfulls of people will find it enjoyable. Handfulls!!’ I concluded. ‘Handfuls. At least ten (10)… .’ Lucy replied. And so it was decided that we would sit down and chat while Lucy and I were both in attendance at the second annual ‘A Family Affair’, graciously hosted by Jan Kath, his eponymous firm, and the extended and diverse global Jan Kath family – in both the literal and figurative sense.

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Fort Street Studio presents a series of commissioned short films by students enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. Alec Davis, Karishma Dev Dube, and Haley Elizabeth Anderson each tell a compelling narrative spanning time but not space. | Image courtesy of Fort Street Studio.

Fort Street Studio Presents… .

‘A lot of films about carpets follow the same narrative.’ begins Janis Provisor as I speak with her via telephone whilst her and co-principal and co-creative director Brad Davis are on a brief visit to New York City. ‘You typically see spinning, carding, weaving, all the usual makings of a carpet, but we wanted to make things more interesting; to create little vignettes.’ Provisor is referring to a series of short films her firm Fort Street Studio recently commissioned to tell a story with few stipulations and no pre-defined narrative. ‘We more or less gave the filmmakers carte blanche only requiring the films be shot on location in our New York Showroom and that they use our painterly and textural carpets as an inspirational design element. Beyond that, we said ‘Do what you want.”

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Tiger shown in colour Pink by Joseph Carini Carpets - 100% silk handknotted in Nepal. | Image courtesy of Joseph Carini Carpets. - Tiger Carpets on The Ruggist

They’re Great! | Tiger Rugs

Within the world of rugs and carpets if one is to mention ‘Tiger Rug’ the foremost thought aught to be that of Tibetan Tiger Rugs. Not because of any exclusive domain over the motif – which there most certainly is not, but rather because in the grand and storied history of tigers as inspiration for carpets Tibet has produced some of the most amazing, lively, and original versions of the design. Whether the motif originated in Tibet, in a geographically proximal region, or in Timbuktu as a metaphor for far-off unknown places, is a scholarly debate for another time. Regardless, know that amongst the collectable and pre-commercialized rug market, Tibetan Tiger Rugs are, if you’ll pardon the pun, the cat’s meow.

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'Peace' from Firesun | Image courtesy of Firesun

Carpets as Therapy | Firesun Carpets

Upon first reading of ‘The Firesun Story’ as Dena Lawrence the Artist behind their creation calls it, one can be forgiven for jumping to ill formed conclusions regarding carpet making as some form of therapy. Foremost amongst them may be the notion of entitlement one must possess to think mental woes can be healed by having artwork reproduced by people whose own problems transcend an entire range of possibilities well beyond Western realities. That is of course the simpleminded logic of today’s everything is offensive society, whereas the real meaning is far deeper and far more meaningful, if one would simply bother to look.

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Do we need more design? | Op-Ed

Lately I have been asking myself this question over and over again. Perhaps because I live in a design-obsessed city, as revealed by everything from the foam patterns on one’s morning cappuccino to the style of pyjamas one wears at night. Perhaps because we just experienced ‘Milan Design Week’, a stellar event which exhibits – on a grand, theatrical scale – the myriad of possible configurations of this word ‘design’. Perhaps because furniture design has become more responsive to commercial tastes, therefore influencing designers to come up with more of the same, without much venturing into unchartered territories.

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'Darth Vader' is an eponymously named limited edition rug by Hadi Maktabi. | Image courtesy of Hadi Maktabi.

‘Darth Vader’ et alia | Hadi Maktabi

I knew of Hadi Maktabi of Hadi Maktabi Rare Carpets and Antiques long before I met him, though I am not certain how it came to be. Perhaps it was his reputation as someone genuinely and eminently qualified to lecture (in the schooled manner, not the scolding) on the topic of antique Persian carpets, or perhaps it was his embrace of all things modern when it comes to social media, promotion, and brand awareness. Maybe it was the juxtaposition in this forced dichotomy of a man who on one hand promotes himself via Instagram and the like, yet eschews most modern carpet production; I cannot help but wonder his process of deciding what modern things to accept and what to reject. Maybe it is his near zealous obsession with quality and the rare or his love of video games and pop-culture. Regardless of how, it is the latter which brings us to be talking about and with him today.

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Jan Kath by Kyle and Kath - the New York City outpost of the venerated carpet house - hosted 'BORO: The Art of Repurpose.' | Image courtesy of Jan Kath.

Boro | The Art of Repurpose

In October 2016 Jan Kath by Kyle and Kath – the New York City showroom of the eponymous brand – presented ‘Boro: The Art of Repurpose’, an innovative presentation of authentic Boro garments paired with the firms like inspired carpet collection as well as the contemporaneous bespoke Boro fashions of Kuon. Spanning the intertwined realms of interiors, history, and fashion the exhibition revives the wisdom of the ages as it were, presenting it as one must, polished and now in high regard.

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Guests from Turkey and delegates from afar gathered on Friday, 7 October 2016 for the Gala including the 10th Annual IHIB National Carpet Design Awards. | The Ruggist.

Istanbul Carpet Week | A Must!

Although the inagural Istanbul Carpet Week took place almost six (6) months ago the impact and importance of the event has not dwindled with time. In fact, only now in a state of relative calm, removed from the incessant urgency and demands of instantaneous satisfaction imposed upon the media landscape of today can I truthfully and thoughtfully convey the importance of not only this event, but of more events like this in the future. In short, I believe this blend of educational conference, gala celebration, business to business meetings, and cultural and information exchange – something the antique carpet community has long encouraged to various degrees – is key to the long term survivability of our industry.

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'Camara' in colour 'Oxblood' by New Moon shown on loom in Nepal. | Image courtesy of The Ruggist.

Inspiration to Presentation | ‘Camara’

In November of 2016 we caught up with John Kurtz, his daughter Erika Kurtz, and Erika’s adorable six-month old daughter Izzy in Patan and Kathmandu in Nepal. Erika – who now runs the business as John is in active retirement – was more than happy to explain and illustrate first hand what constitutes this much touted difference as we all toured the various facilities used to produce New Moon carpets. From initial inspiration to final show presentation, follow along as we examine ‘Camara’ by New Moon which debuts during DOMOTEX in Hannover, Germany the 14-17 January 2017.

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The Second Annual 'Un-Official Selections' of the Carpet Design Awards 2017 by The Ruggist

Un-Official Selections 2017

The Carpet Design Awards recognize annually the best in handmade carpet design and are, to quote, ‘a coveted international badge of excellence in quality of execution and uniqueness of design for modern hand-made carpets.’ As with any design competition however there are caveats. For instance, entrants and thus winners – with the exception of those in the ‘Best Studio Artist Design’ – must be exhibitors at DOMOTEX which obviously restricts the pool of eligible carpets. As such, it is best to think not of the Carpet Design Awards as ‘the world’s best’, but rather think of them as one would of cinema, with the Carpet Design Awards as the DOMOTEX equivalent of an Official Selection during Cannes. Similarly just as movie critics will critique with superior air, so too must those who judge rugs chime in on what is – in their opinion – hot, hot, hot.

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Vase with Fish and Aquatic Plants Motif by Yuki Hayama shown against 'Sea Tangle' by Joseph Carini Carpets. - The Ruggist | Image courtesy of Joseph Carini Carpets

Beauty of Life by Yuki Hayama

Joseph Carini Carpets hosted the debut United States exhibition of ceramic works by Japanese artist Yuki Hayama from 9 September through 29 September 2016 at Mr. Carini’s eponymous TriBeCa carpet showroom. The showroom served not as mere gallery to the magnificently detailed work of Mr. Hayama, but rather as a veritable collaborative studio in which hard – in the form of ceramics – was juxtaposed against soft – in the form of the carpets Joseph Carini designed after being inspired by Mr. Hayama’s work. A visual delight where the contrast of two (2) disparate artistic endeavours begs the viewer to delve deeper into the notion of creativity, inspiration, and a true understanding of craft.

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'carpet blue/green' by Ashtari and Muller Van Severen shown in situ. Image courtesy of Ashtari. The Ruggist

‘carpet blue/green’ | Ashtari

Ashtari Carpets is a rug and carpet retailer located in Antwerp, Belgium specializing in modern decorative carpets and select rare antique carpets. Their contemporary offerings hail from some of the best currently in the business including Wool and Silk, cc-tapis, and Edelgrund, all of whom produce world class carpets which Ashtari presents with a stylish if not also somewhat sexy sensibility. It’s this sensibility – which lies in direct contrast to the staid and antiquated ‘here’s a pile of rugs’ approach – that first caught our eye and, as a brief aside, it is one we hope will continue to evolve, becoming more pervasive as time progresses.

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