UK Heritage Rugs as featured on The Ruggist

Empire in Retrospect | UK Heritage Rugs

In speaking with UK Heritage Rugs’ Principal Brian Sales during Domotex it was apparent his passion, no, his calling, no, his mandate was not to be euphemistically inspired by the work of others – as is the purported case of so many who knock-off the work of others, but rather it was to honour the originals. By working closely with the curators who oversee the works his firm licenses Sales was able to ensure – as best possible given no-one involved created the originals – the carpets present the artwork in a manner befitting the originals’ museum quality status, however the reader prefers to interpret that. Without hesitation Sales has succeeded in this regard, though whether or not the firm’s carpets themselves are ‘museum quality’ is an academic question left for the reader and future curators.

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The 'Silence Azerbaijan Collection' by Nasser Nishaburi as featured on The Ruggist.

Silence | Nasser Nishaburi

To write of rugs and carpets is to interject oneself into an esoteric world replete with a cast(e) of characters far to numerous to enumerate herein and from my decidedly privileged Western experience it further seems as though each of those characters has at least one (1) opinion on any rug topic imaginable. Thus it is when choosing to discuss a particular topic or specific rug, one has to decide not only one’s own thoughts on the matter, but also the approach and tone of the article. Is the discussion serious or irreverent? Yes. Does it – as has on occasion been the prerogative of this author – examine carpets with an eye toward pure design; a faux reality of aestheticism in which meaning is lost in favour of the ephemeral and obsolete, planned or otherwise? Perhaps… .

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An assortment of Kasthall's Harvest Collection of flatwoven 'modern rag rugs.' - The Ruggist | Image courtesy of Kasthall.

Harvesting the Studio | Kasthall

The process of making custom or bespoke rugs and carpets is one that has many benefits both for the manufacturer as well as the consumer. Consumers enjoy the luxury of specifying each of every detail of the carpet – within the confines of a particular makers capabilities – and individual makers, importers, and retailers realize lower inventory cost and waste as they are not producing full carpets on speculation alone. No matter how efficient the process however there will always be surplus yarn after a rug is finished. ‘There are often two or three spools of a certain colour yarn left over after weaving a rug. This is because we make a few extra spools in case we need to redo something during the production process.’ explains Ellinor Eliasson, a designer at Swedish carpet house Kasthall.

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'Nine Million Stars' is a video project produced by Jan Kath and Label STEP that celebrates Nepali carpet weaving as a sustainable alternative to migrant labour. Staring famed Nepali actress Reecha Sharma and noted Nepali stage actor Tika Bhakta Jirel, directed by the award-winning Tsering Rhitar Sherpa. - The Ruggist | Image courtesy of Jan Kath.

Shine Brightly! | The Future of Weaving

There is a certain penchant on the part of carpet purveyors to romanticize the notion of carpet weaving as a storied, well respected, and almost nobel profession. Skills are extolled, the art and craft are professed as sublime, homage is paid to the hard work and talent of those who make carpets, and the resultant product is held as high example of handwork and human artistry. And why not? The ability to create woven cloth from fibre dates to time immemorial, with estimates dating this skill to some 27,000 years ago. And while pile carpet construction, as evidenced by the Pazyryk Carpet, dates to perhaps only the more recent but still sufficiently historic fifth century BCE, it is safe to state unequivocally that weaving has been important to the development of humandkind. But, for such a noble and profoundly important profession, ‘How many handweavers do you know here in the west?’ I ask rhetorically.

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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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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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Natural Dying Art Day at Creative Matters with The Ruggist | Image by The Ruggist

Art Day at Creative Matters

To avoid atë the firm implemented what has grown to become an ‘integral influence on the constant flow of creative design that emerges from the studio’ to quote Creative Matters. ‘Art Days’ allow the entire staff as a team, not just the designers, to immerse themselves in a technique or a subject matter in order to garner fresh and, as I came to discover, unexpected insight. By exploring various artistic techniques of photography, glassblowing, collage, and the like without a predestined use nor aesthetic, the firm is able to create a body of original artwork ‘from somewhere else’ some of which may be suited to an individual collection, others archived for potential use in future projects. The exploration of techniques foreign to some, familiar to others, fosters camaraderie and team building, while simultaneously fuelling the creativity of the firm. This is a brief look behind the creative curtain.

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An assortment of Kasthall's Harvest Collection of flatwoven 'modern rag rugs.' - The Ruggist | Image courtesy of Kasthall.

Harvesting the Studio | Kasthall

The process of making custom or bespoke rugs and carpets is one that has many benefits both for the manufacturer as well as the consumer. Consumers enjoy the luxury of specifying each of every detail of the carpet – within the confines of a particular makers capabilities – and individual makers, importers, and retailers realize lower inventory cost and waste as they are not producing full carpets on speculation alone. No matter how efficient the process however there will always be surplus yarn after a rug is finished. ‘There are often two or three spools of a certain colour yarn left over after weaving a rug. This is because we make a few extra spools in case we need to redo something during the production process.’ explains Ellinor Eliasson, a designer at Swedish carpet house Kasthall.

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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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UK Heritage Rugs as featured on The Ruggist

Empire in Retrospect | UK Heritage Rugs

A new collection from UK Heritage Rugs adapts noted artwork into rugs and carpets.

In speaking with UK Heritage Rugs’ Principal Brian Sales during Domotex it was apparent his passion, no, his calling, no, his mandate was not to be euphemistically inspired by the work of others – as is the purported case of so many who knock-off the work of others, but rather it was to honour the originals. By working closely with the curators who oversee the works his firm licenses Sales was able to ensure – as best possible given no-one involved created the originals – the carpets present the artwork in a manner befitting the originals’ museum quality status, however the reader prefers to interpret that. Without hesitation Sales has succeeded in this regard, though whether or not the firm’s carpets themselves are ‘museum quality’ is an academic question left for the reader and future curators.

Read more
The 'Silence Azerbaijan Collection' by Nasser Nishaburi as featured on The Ruggist.

Silence | Nasser Nishaburi

The absence of words... The absence of sounds... This is the beauty of silence.

To write of rugs and carpets is to interject oneself into an esoteric world replete with a cast(e) of characters far to numerous to enumerate herein and from my decidedly privileged Western experience it further seems as though each of those characters has at least one (1) opinion on any rug topic imaginable. Thus it is when choosing to discuss a particular topic or specific rug, one has to decide not only one’s own thoughts on the matter, but also the approach and tone of the article. Is the discussion serious or irreverent? Yes. Does it – as has on occasion been the prerogative of this author – examine carpets with an eye toward pure design; a faux reality of aestheticism in which meaning is lost in favour of the ephemeral and obsolete, planned or otherwise? Perhaps… .

Read more
The Ruggist presents Un-Official Selections of the DOMOTEX Carpet Design Awards 2018. | Image of Moroccan Kilim courtesy of Bazar de Sud via DOMOTEX. | The Ruggist

Un-Official Selections 2018 | Domotex

The Ruggist's un-official selections of the 2018 Domotex Carpet Design Awards

The Carpet Design Awards are an internationally renown accolade which recognize annually the best of carpet and rug design – provided entries satisfy the eligibility criteria. Specifically and exclusively chosen from those firms which exhibit at DOMOTEX – The World of Flooring (except for Category 1 – Best Studio Carpet), the CDA(s) as they are known have become a ‘…badge of distinction, given in recognition of quality and design excellence in handmade carpets and rugs.’ Now in their thirteenth (13th) year, the Carpet Design Awards will be presented on Saturday, 13 January 2018 in Hall 9 during Domotex.

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Vanquishing Manufactured Trends - A denouncement of the Pantone Color Institute's Color of the Year: 'Ultra Violet' | The Ruggist

Vanquishing Manufactured Trends

A denouncement of the Pantone Color Institute's Color of the Year: 'Ultra Violet' (and others).

Beyond the scope of this commentator’s existence there most assuredly must have been a time free from corporate and financially driven trends, but that era – whenever it may have been – is far removed from the consumption driven reality that is the early twenty-first century of the common-era. In this day, in an ever increasing and readily apparent manner, consumers are not only bombarded with new trends, they are done so at an ever increasing rate; each new trend supplanting the former as if had never been, relegating it to the shelf of formerly-amazing-you-cannot-live-without-it products and ideas. This is the crux of the problem with trends. It is impossible to fully, genuinely, passionately, authentically embrace a trend because come the passing of another year, quarter, fashion season – of which there now number approximately fifty-two per year – or what have you, the next purportedly new thing must be embraced. This inherent obsolescence exists for no other reason than to sell more wares. For an industry such as the handmade rug and carpet industry, and additionally high-quality tufted and machine-made qualities, it is disingenuous at best to try and sell a product which can endure multiple years/decades/generations only to then proclaim another is needed when trends – manufactured as they are – change.

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'Piri Reis' by Wool and Silk, 150 knot Nepali-Tibetan carpet, wool and silk carded blend on cotton, Nepal, 2015. | Image courtesy of Wool and Silk. | The Ruggist

Piri Reis | Wool and Silk

A delightful carpet inspired by a serendipitously discovered map almost lost to history.

Discovered in the Topkapi Palace in 1929, the Piri Reis Map as it is known, is the oldest known Turkish map showing the new world and one of the oldest maps of America still in existence anywhere (the oldest known map of America that is still in existence is the map drawn by Juan de la Cosa in 1500). The extant fragment of the map represents approximately one-third (1/3) of the original and was compiled by Piri from various sources as he himself had never sailed into the Atlantic. The map was signed by Piri in 1513 CE and later presented to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1517 CE. It’s discovery was serendipitous as it existence was theretofore unknown when German theologian Gustav Adolf Deissmann – who had been commissioned to catalog the palaces non-Islamic items – located it in a search of the palace.  Feted at the time as it was then the only known copy of a map by Christopher Columbus, the Piri Reis map is an invaluable look into he technology and skill of the past, and is widely regarded. This is the carpet the map inspired.

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