I have been a very good boy, err, man this year. In fact, I have refrained from airing dirty laundry (only because there is too much of my own dirty laundry about), have remained focused on the positive, and have tried (somewhat successfully) to avoid using “The Ruggist” as an outlet for shamelessly promoting Red Spruce (damnit!). I’ve also praised The Rug Company, Delinear, and Jan Kath for their advertising, and avoided pointing out the lack of creativity in other advertising (damnit again!) So you see Santa, I am quite deserving of the present for which I am about to ask. I first saw this gift in the Winter 2009 Issue of Cover: Modern Carpets and Textiles for Interiors, and Santa, if you are listening/reading this, I promise you that I will be an extra good man in 2010 if you being me something from Rug Star. It’s/She’s/He’s all I want for Christmas.
P.S. I’ve included a copy for your reference to avoid any confusion.
P.S.S. Jurgen is you are reading this, Call Me. *wink
Welcome to 2010! (For those of you wondering how it should be read, the CBC’s official style guide apparently has it as “twenty-ten”) As the new year begins I realize that I had been rather remiss in posting to “The Ruggist” in 2009, and so, along with FINALLY stopping biting my nails, I am hereby making a resolution to post more frequently so that you are kept most up to date on the ramblings of, to steal a phrase, “your trusted source” for information from the world of rugs. So with the caveat that you should always question how trustworthy any source is, I present:
The Sort of Year in Review 2009, with brief musings on Metro Market Week and the NYICS or The Especially Opinionated Edition of The Ruggist featuring an annoying Christmas Letter and Many Random Thoughts and Interjections
We begin today with an apology. In a previous post I promised a review of Metro Market Week and the NYICS. That review has obviously not come to pass, and if by near improbable chance someone has been sitting out there holding their breath awaiting my review, I strongly urge you to start breathing again. There simply is not going to be a proper review, as 1) the timeliness has long since passed and 2) I wasn’t inspired to write much of anything.
As I rambled on about in my last post, I like to write about things which inspire me. Inspiration comes in many forms though. A well crafted cocktail, sumptuous materials, brilliant marketing, that attractive man (or woman if that is your fancy) across the room, and of course, almost without need of mention: Great Carpets. And that is my dilemma. What to do when inspiration doesn’t strike? In my case: Nothing. I do nothing. I think it is better to produce nothing than to produce inferior or mediocre product. Now, I am the first to admit that not all (if any) of my posts are superior in the Pulitzer sense, but some are more well read than others, and some are more informative, but they all reflect my personality and certainly my opinions. Since that is the intent of my blog, I am thusly pleased with the results.
How do I measure those results? Why in completely arbitrary and non-scientific ways, thank you for asking. My sources (sounds scandalous) tell me that during a year end survey, “The Ruggist” was named, by a single respondent, as the single best blog source for information about the rug industry. With such highly qualified endoursements as those, I am considering a movie deal.
Speaking of endoursements I would like to offer the following (which includes highlights of what was to be my MMW/NYICS review):
NYICS and Dennis Dodds
There is no harder working man in the rug business than Dennis Dodds and commendations need to go out to him for the change in venue for the NYCIS. While the number of exhibitors was down, I think the quality of the exhibitors was up and there are just not enough nice things that can be said about the new venue. Better lighting, better ceiling height, better facilities, and, and, and!, it was not stiflingly hot and stuffy like the Armoury. Thanks for the change Dennis and I hope to see you in the same spot next year.
Now as everyone (yes I assume all of you know all about me, am assumption now confirmed by some email I received*) knows I formerly worked for Lapchi and as with all past relationships there is a little bit of Love/Hate. You know, where you Hate to Love them, but also Love to Hate them? But Hate is such a harsh word. Let’s just say I keep a critical eye and move on.
Lapchi deserves credit for both returning to the NYICS, and for putting on a great display of colour. In the face of the, err, economy, it was wonderful to see that Lapchi has continued to push product development and colour. This is an acknowledged nod to the fact that their carpets are a fashion oriented product and as such, must stay with trends. As I earlier stated, on the whole there wasn’t much inspiration, and this was due to the fact of many companies presenting the same product. Lapchi, while not alone in showing new things (also Kooches, New Moon, Sahar), their presence at the entrance of the show, helped set the mood. Great work!
Siberian Carpet Company
Wow! Just stunning. Traditional craft, made the traditional ways, made in traditional styles (that last part is most daring), all that make you want to stare and touch and covet. These rugs are not for everyone, but they are beautiful none the less. I met Managing Director, Elizaveta Kondratyeva during the show and you can see and hear her passion when she talks about her rugs and her homeland. And while my Russian is non-existent and her English was marginal, I enjoyed my time in her booth and particularly the juxtaposition of old carpets against the new. More info can be found Here.
After my last mention of Halvai (See this post of The Ruggist), many of you might be left wondering if those men, in particular Bill Ward, are crazy! I say yes they are crazy; crazy smart. As a brief intro, Halvai’s rugs and carpets are simply amazing and beautiful, and suffice it to say I am a fan, but what I really want to talk about is the Halvai showroom.
I was honoured to have been invited into the space that would become the Halvai SoHo showroom by Bill during its construction phase. Seeing the transformation (only partial in my case) from before to after, visually tells an amazing story, and it is why Architectural Diges loves to feature before and after photography. During this year’s market, Halvai hosted a joint (no pun intended) party with Tamarian, and this is where the space Mr. Ward developed really shines. Not so much in that it was purpose built to make Tamarian’s, or Halvai’s, or anyones rugs or furniture look good, but in the fact that the space was not overbuilt and has the flexibility to quickly change and adapt for the particular occasion, allowing it to make anything and everything look good. The space shines because it serves as the understated (if not grand) backdrop to those beautiful rugs. Hats off to Mr. Ward and to his continued success.
A Funny Story, if You Have a Dark Sense of Humour.
I was speaking with my friend Cyndi Janetzko (shameless GoodWeave plug) just before Christmas, and I wished her “Happy Holidays.” Now in general I hate saying Happy Holidays, as it is a huge cop out. I’m Christian, I celebrate Christmas and I should say: Merry Christmas. I am fully cognizant however, that many of my rug world colleagues are, to borrow and inverse some culturalisms are: Not. Of course, I mean they are Jewish, whereas, as previously stated, I am not. Many people are slightly shocked to learn that I am not Jewish. In fact, I was once at a dinner with Stephanie Odegard and many of my best clients, and I declined to eat some of the olive appetizers, prompting the woman to my left (Not Ms. Odegard) to say ” You’re not Jewish are you?” Needless to say, I’ve tried very hard over the years to be aware of peoples beliefs and pass on my best wishes appropriately. Anyway, during/after my conversation with Mr. Janetzko, there was much musing that I should keep a list of Jews/Christians so I know what to say. Can you imagine such a list on my office wall? I think the resulting laughter is quite obvious, if only in a dark way. So! Look at the time! Speaking of Christmas, I’d like to share with you the letter I wrote to Santa this year. Sadly, my wishes were not granted.
The Quick Year in Review and my Opinion
Frankly and boldly my dear readers I think we can all agree (impossible!!) that to say “As a whole, last year’s market (both MMW/NYICS and the entire world of rugs) was just not that inspired.” is an understatement of epic proportions. Of course there were some great carpets made, and some crafting marketing, and some innovative, if not old school, survival methods employed to weather what was arguably the worst year for rug sales in recent memory, but as a whole (and as a generalization), the year was a bastion of negativity. As much as it pains me to write this, it is a reflection of the (note painful expression on face) economy. Moving past 2009, the economy sucked, but is now improving. Luxury goods purveyors have suffered due to in my opinion over expansion and reliance on aspirational wealth as opposed to actual wealth. Custom still reigns supreme, but I think the search for true quality and uniqueness is on the rise. Sales have been for the most part flat, but major dealers are reporting “decent” years all things considered. Sales from stock have been a saving grace amongst many. Many brands are suffering and I am sure “churn” will take its toll on a few in 2010, allowing many companies to once again thrive, and allow others to grow from obscurity into prominence. If I only knew which ones would do each, I could sell the info and retire. Things are looking up, but we must remember that the rug market as a whole is over saturated with too much of the same. And finally, as I’ve been predicting for years, based on my theory of fashion cycles being generational in length (20-30 years) the eighties are about to descend upon us in a fury! Just ask Pantone about the Colour of the Year!
Red Spruce: The shameless plug.
Since the arrival of my Christmas gift from Santa was somehow delayed, I must get in one last plug, so…. Whilst it was not the most financially lucrative year (this is a another understatement of cosmic proportions) for me personally, it has been an exciting year in the development of my love of carpets, design, and the like. As you may already know (or are about to learn) I have started a company named Red Spruce. We are the makers of authentic handwork rugs and carpets from Nova Scotia. That’s right. We make them in Nova Scotia. By hand. Not using needlepunch or any other shortcut method. But by hand, using time honoured hand-hooking techniques. I could ramble on (as we all know) but suffice it to say we are growing, and have garnered a bit of media attention already. Outside of the local Nova Scotia press, you can find Red Spruce mentioned in Modern Carpet and Textiles (now Cover) and in Azure. We had a launch show at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax and a United States debut with New Moon in Delaware. All of these articles and events can be found summarized at the Red Spruce website, linked above. Finally, before you ask, Wait! I won’t say Red Spruce’ carpets are expensive, but you know the adage if you have to ask you cannot afford it. It applies. There are inherent costs of making carpets in North America, but those same costs impart significant intrinsic value. Our carpets are most certainly not for the everyman. And we would not have it any other way.
*The Email I Received.
Since I am finalizing this post as some of the World of Rugs descends on Atlanta for NORS, I am say 98% certain that the re-launch issue of Cover is about to become widely distributed. In it you will find an article I wrote which is titled: “Simply the Best – North America”. Spoiler Alert: While I don’t give away the article, there are allusions to its content. If you want to read the article, go acquire a copy of the magazine. We should all support print media, before it goes the way of the dinosaurs, but I digress.
The point is that my assumption that “everyone” knows I worked for Lapchi has now been confirmed by the author of a Love/Hate email, which I was copied on. I would like to offer an obviously one sided response to this email, an excerpt of which follows, removing identifying details:
“…I also think it is unfair that you allowed the author to name Lapchi the one leader in custom, without looking at the myriad factors that go into producing a custom rug and ultimately ending with customer satisfaction.
While I appreciate that most of your author’s knowledge and views lie in Lapchi’s sight because of previous employment history, I do not feel it is fair that a forum was given to plug their line, or Goodweave for that matter, ahead of any other company.
We [[NAME REDACTED]] kindly request previous knowledge of printing any article by this author, or any other opinion article which may intentionally or not, lay unsubstantiated self-serving claims to the superiority of any manufacturer over another. We simply will choose not to put our advertising dollars into those particular issues.”
While obviously I have been shaped by my work with Lapchi, I have also been shaped by the other eight (8) rug or rug related companies I have worked for or with. I have learned much from each of them, and hopefully left something positive in my wake as well. We are all shaped by our work be it varied or otherwise. Everything any one person or company does is intentionally self-serving, and those denying they have an agenda (good, bad or unknown) are not being forthright. Just as the email he/she wrote clearly supports her/his company, so does my authorship of the Cover article, and the posting of this information serve mine. Sir Winston Churchill stated that “The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.” I hope to boldly assert my opinions, welcome being contradicted, and hope and pray that forums for expression are always available, be they in print or online (maybe like a blog). Sometimes I am wrong and sometimes I am right but inarguably I know with certainty that, “If you can find something everyone agrees on, it’s wrong.” – Mo Udall
In the same manner that the author intends to advance his/her position I am intending to advance mine, and neither one of us should think badly of the other for doing as such. I greatly respect the work of the author of this email and that of his/her company, and I hope to once again enjoy an end of the day sportsmanlike congratulatory drink with her/him again. My treat (It’s a deduction!)