As I sat comfortably on the sofa I could not help but stare. On the screen before me, just as it is now before you, was an image of the latest carpet in the Feathers series from Rug Star by Jürgen Dahlmanns entitled: ‘Mr. Big’. The whimsical name alone was nearly enough to endear me, but the more I stared, the more I gazed, the more I was mesmerized, the more I had to know. I simply had to know more.
‘Mr. Big’ from the Feathers series – Rug Star by Jürgen Dahlmanns
‘I love the abstraction and scale.’ began the initial email to Mr. Dahlmanns, ‘Would you mind sending over an image for use on The Ruggist? I’d like to feature the carpet as a ‘noteworthy’ carpet of late.’ I wrote, thusly concluding what some may find to be a shockingly brief email. And so it was that a few hours later that I had in my possession a larger better quality image suitable for this very purpose of enlightening you. I had also asked for technical information because one does like to remain informed after all, and Rug Star generously obliged.
I then sat down to write this brief article on Mr. Big, but due perhaps to the influence of intoxicants, including a lovely bourbon on the rocks, I became sidetracked, wondering aloud whether the carpet I was looking at was flat, that is to say a single pile height? Or was it three-dimensional, with differing heights between field and design? I could not at this point conceive of writing about Mr. Big without clarifying, so I composed another email.
‘I was eyeing the design, staring for quite a while in fact. I find it very mesmerizing. I’ve attached a crude drawing – [in a quality] only suitable for brainstorming – that illustrates how I imagine the carpet to be made. Is this drawing correct?’ I inquired. As it turns out I was, in fact, completely wrong.
‘Brainstorming’ drawing of The Ruggist’s thoughts on Mr. Big. Thoughts that are, in fact, wrong!
‘No’ Jürgen explained, ‘I have the same illusion. The effect is very three dimensional, but it is all done with colours and mixtures. It is all five millimeter (5 mm) pile.’ he concluded before wishing me a great start to my day. Now, I was even more intrigued.
I had spent the intervening time between emailing to clarify and receiving the clarification imagining what this carpet must be like in person. Working on the assumption that I was correct (because who does not want to be correct), I imagined gliding my hand across the multi-dimensional surface of the carpet. The field would be wool and the design a blend of wool and silk (the carpet is seventy-five percent wool (75%), twenty-five percent (25%) silk). The design would be just enough longer as to stand proud of the field, but not so long as to lay flat when walked upon. It would feel, wait for it, like a feather. I was all but coveting the carpet by the time I read that it was of single pile height, and to be honest, for a brief moment I took pause wondering what now to think. ‘Was this a missed opportunity at greatness?’ I thought.
No of course it isn’t. The carpet did not cease to be mesmerizing simply because I now knew how it was made. Had I first seen it live and in the flesh as it said, the thought would not even have crossed my mind. What appeals most about ‘Mr. Big’ is that it appears to be three dimensional while existing in only two (if we allow ourselves to not be too pedantic), and the more I thought about it, the more I want to see it, to touch it, to see the dimensionality of it for myself.
For as long as man has been making carpets we have been using techniques of abstraction, interpretation, and mimicry, as we draw inspiration from the environment – natural, built, or otherwise – into carpet design. Innumerable permutations of floral motifs, animals, machinery, mosaic, and now photography, so on and so forth, fill the catalog of great carpets. Speaking rhetorically, is this carpet then not just a stunning evolution in carpet design, achieving the goal of mimicking the environment by tricking our eyes and mind? I think it is, and I think it does so in ways other so called photorealistic carpets have yet to achieve or master. Now to go see it and find out for sure!
‘Mr. Big’ can be seen in person 16-19 January 2016 during DOMOTEX at the Rug Star by Jürgen Dahlmanns stand.