Brave Conversations | Over Coffee

It began innocently enough as I was preparing in May of 2018 to travel to Portland, Oregon to observe and document the making of ‘Intimacy Portland,’ a joint project between Christiane Millinger Handmade Rugs and Rug Star by Jürgen Dahlmanns. I was conducting field research for the article and eventual presentation ‘Inside Intimacy Portland’ for Rug Insider Magazine and – as one did in 2018 and still does in 2020 – I was browsing the titles available for download on Netflix; plane travel after all can be notoriously monotonous. One documentary quickly caught my attention: ‘Coffee for All,’ or ‘Caffè Sospeso’ as originally titled. I downloaded it partially out of sincere interest, partially out of the serendipitous nature of traveling to a renown coffee mecca: Portland, Oregon. The short film proved to be the entrée which has refocused my life.

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Fruition | Handknotted Nylon Part 5 of 5

To explore the creation of a new product is to take a step away from what has been into the unknown, the perhaps unfathomable, the hitherto unrealized. It requires a degree of modernism and a progressive mindset insomuch that conservatism simply tends to favour the status quo. With that comes a degree of irony associated with rug makers of today who while immediately embracing the aesthetics du jour, also favour steadfast traditional techniques even at the expense of efficacy and efficiency, socio-economic concerns, and as is relevant to ‘Nylon Engulfed’ the prototype handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon, contemporary environmental and climatological concerns.

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The Handmade Carpet | A Review

The nearly three-hundred pages of text and imagery of ‘The Handmade Carpet’ contain a wealth of knowledge accumulated over the long and storied careers of the authors Fritz Langauer and Ernst A. Swietly. The assertive authors undoubtably put forth superior and exhaustive efforts in compiling what amounts to multiple lifetimes of experience, information, expertise, commentary, and so forth as they attempt to explain, as the subtitle of the tome – ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary Rugs’ – purports, contemporary rugs and carpets. In the final analysis however, it must be stated that while the volumn is indeed comprehensive in regard to certain aspects of contemporary carpetry, it likewise lacks in its treatment of contemporary as the word has come to be employed in the colloquial of today.

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Crafting | Handknotted Nylon Part 4 of 5

On 10 November 2019 Peter Goudeseune and Sergey Burattin of Aquafil, makers of ECONYL® nylon, Shally Sarawagi of Sarawagi Rugs, and myself traveled to the north-east outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal in order to ceremoniously remove the prototype handknotted carpet made from ECONYL®, now named ‘Nylon Engulfed,’ from the loom. This is not in any way a tradition within carpet making in Nepal – it is a commercial industry after all – but it is ceremony within weaving in Aubusson, France. The tombée de métier, the ‘falling from the loom,’ when a tapestry is removed, via cutting of the warp yarns, from the loom; it’s an irreversible step that concludes the weaving.

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Advertising Perspective

Have you ever taken a really close look at advertising, and in the process asked yourself: ‘What is the company trying to convey?’ Me too… , me too… . But this is not that per se, rather this is a conceptualization – of my own doing – which illustrates the point that advertising should sell you the product, not a fantasy world full of aspiration and faux reality. Shown here is one of my favourite things, the Picnic Lounge by Fatboy. This first photo – while striking and attention grabbing – is worth a thousand words about how the person or persons soon to eat lunch here (Disclosure: It was me and my fiancé.) is an idiot with no regard for personal safety nor comfort.

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It's Not the Knots... Sort of. 'Mameluka V A' by Rica Basagoiti. The Ruggist.

It’s (K)not the Knots. Sort of…!

Of all the technical details one could discuss regarding the craft of handknotted rug and carpet making, one stands apart as perhaps the most easily misconstrued, misrepresented, and misunderstood: knot count. This confusion arises for a variety of reasons too numerous to list, but suffice it to say knot count has tended  – rightly, wrongly, or otherwise – to be used as an indicator of rug quality due to its easily discernible and quantifiable value: the number of knots per square unit of measure. As such there is an expedience in saying a higher number of knots equates to a ‘better’ quality rug. Hmmm…. Yes, but that is not the full story.

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Tapisserie Ras El Hanout, the Ras el Hanout Tapestry designed by Pierre Marie, made by Manufacture Robert Four in Aubusson, France. | Photograph courtesy of Pierre Marie.

Ras El Hanout | Pierre Marie

Pierre Marie was born in Nogent-Sur-Marne and as the child of ‘slightly hippie parents’ experienced a happy childhood filled with a passion for Disney animated films and ’an early enduring attraction to colour.’ Now as an accomplished designer in his early late thirties, he has prestigious collaborations with French brands such as Hermes and dyptique within his portfolio, or perhaps more accurately, oeuvre. He sees himself as an ‘artist-ornamentalist,’ that is it say, as Pierre Marie does, he is ‘Someone that has the talent and the knowledge to decorate any surface with a story, a pattern, a frieze. I would just say that some media are more hungry for drawing than others. And textile is definitely one of them.’

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Shibori Style | An Exploration

From Nathan Tucker of Lapchi’s Rug Design Studio in Chicago, Illinois: ‘I guess when it comes to reïnterpreting a certain medium or artistry into handknotted carpets, there’s always going to be a challenge, depending on how close of an analogue to the original inspiration you’re trying to achieve. In shibori’s case, the general patterning is something that’s pretty easy to recreate with a graphed knot. Specifically, the itajime technique of shibori is something you see a lot of; the more geometric style of block/resist dying.’

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Brave Conversations | Over Coffee

It began innocently enough as I was preparing in May of 2018 to travel to Portland, Oregon to observe and document the making of ‘Intimacy Portland,’ a joint project between Christiane Millinger Handmade Rugs and Rug Star by Jürgen Dahlmanns. I was conducting field research for the article and eventual presentation ‘Inside Intimacy Portland’ for Rug Insider Magazine and – as one did in 2018 and still does in 2020 – I was browsing the titles available for download on Netflix; plane travel after all can be notoriously monotonous. One documentary quickly caught my attention: ‘Coffee for All,’ or ‘Caffè Sospeso’ as originally titled. I downloaded it partially out of sincere interest, partially out of the serendipitous nature of traveling to a renown coffee mecca: Portland, Oregon. The short film proved to be the entrée which has refocused my life.

Read more

Fruition | Handknotted Nylon Part 5 of 5

To explore the creation of a new product is to take a step away from what has been into the unknown, the perhaps unfathomable, the hitherto unrealized. It requires a degree of modernism and a progressive mindset insomuch that conservatism simply tends to favour the status quo. With that comes a degree of irony associated with rug makers of today who while immediately embracing the aesthetics du jour, also favour steadfast traditional techniques even at the expense of efficacy and efficiency, socio-economic concerns, and as is relevant to ‘Nylon Engulfed’ the prototype handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon, contemporary environmental and climatological concerns.

Read more

The Handmade Carpet | A Review

The nearly three-hundred pages of text and imagery of ‘The Handmade Carpet’ contain a wealth of knowledge accumulated over the long and storied careers of the authors Fritz Langauer and Ernst A. Swietly. The assertive authors undoubtably put forth superior and exhaustive efforts in compiling what amounts to multiple lifetimes of experience, information, expertise, commentary, and so forth as they attempt to explain, as the subtitle of the tome – ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary Rugs’ – purports, contemporary rugs and carpets. In the final analysis however, it must be stated that while the volumn is indeed comprehensive in regard to certain aspects of contemporary carpetry, it likewise lacks in its treatment of contemporary as the word has come to be employed in the colloquial of today.

Read more
Domotex Hannover 2019 Complimentary / Free Admission | The Ruggist

With Compliments! | Domotex

For most people in the Northern Hemisphere the arrival of January signals Winter’s grasp has firmly taken hold, yet for itinerant rug and carpet buyers eager to spot the latest trends, find an antique gem in the rough, or explore the innovations which will drive the future of rugs and flooring, January can mean only one thing: Domotex. Billed by the organizers as ‘The World of Flooring’ the original fair in Hannover, Germany as well as the complementary regional shows including Domotex Turkey in Gaziantep, Turkey, Domotex Asia/ChinaFloor in Shanghai, China, and the soon to be inaugurated Domotex USA in Atlanta, United States, certainly live up to, if not exceed, this moniker. The January 2019 fair in Hannover will host over 1,600 exhibitors who will – assuming past trends hold – attract approximately 45,000 buyers representing in total over 100 countries from around the world. In short, it’s big, it’s important, and if you are serious about rugs and carpets, it’s a must attend. The Ruggist will be there for the duration of Domotex 2019 which runs Friday, 11 January through Monday, 14 January, 2019.

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Born in the Purple - Viron Erol Vert - Art Carpets - The Ruggist

Born in the Purple | Viron Vert

Like many topics related to the esoteric world of handmade rugs and carpets – and indeed of civilization broadly – different perspectives, different attitudes, different life experiences, different perceptions of the one true reality all influence how one reacts. Art, specifically the notion of carpets and rugs as art is by no means an exception, and it is this idea which routinely finds its way into the marketing and sales of rugs and carpets. ‘Art for the floor.’ and countless of other permutations of this tagline exist today just as they indubitably have existed since mankind first discovered the trade of rugs could be profitable. But ‘art’ is no clearly defined term. Contemporary usage leads one to understand many skills, artforms, and crafts as art. Cooking for example, or painting, or sculpture, to name but a few. Art, perhaps in an elitist attempt to winnow away the chaff, is also categorized into distinct sub-groups. Fine art, decorative art, folk art, classical art, again to name but a few.

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Embargo On... Again | Iran Sanctions - The Ruggist

Embargo On… Again | Iran Sanctions

Pursuant to this directive once the first wind-down period ends on 6 August 2018, the government of the United States will revoke several JCPOA related authorizations regarding sanctions on Iran, namely: The importation into the United States of Iranian origin carpets and foodstuffs and certain related financial transactions pursuant to general licenses under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). Further information regarding sanctions can be found from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). In short, importation of Iranian made carpets into the United States after 6 August 2018 will – once again – be illegal. No other country currently has plans to enact an embargo on Iranian made carpets.

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Kyle and Kath - Jan Kath Design and Avenues World School launch Crossroads & Avenues. This project is a creative collaboration between the children of Avenues: The World School of New York City and the Kesang Primary School of Kathmandu. This global project brings together the creativity of children from opposite sides of the world in order to explore their cultural views and interpretations of design as seen through a child's eye. The result: fresh and original Nepali-Tibetan carpets. | The Ruggist.

Crossroads and Avenues | Excelsior!

Kyle and Kath – Jan Kath Design New York and Avenues the World School quietly launched the Crossroads and Avenues design project in January 2018. The brainchild of Kyle Clarkson, Managing Partner and designer at the firm, Crossroads and Avenues extends an ongoing multi-year program in which Kyle and Kath hosts schoolchildren educating them on the art, craft, and design of handmade carpets. During these class visits, children learn about the art of handknotted carpets and are given the freedom to imagine and create their own carpet design. ‘The kids have had such fun creating their own designs that I was inspired to take it to the next level and produce a few of their designs at our factory in Nepal.’ says Clarkson of the effort. Originally envisioned as a way to expose handwork to students whose lives are admittedly removed from such work, the project – with the encouragement and support of Avenues: The World School of New York City – quickly developed into a global collaboration bringing together disparate cultures and interpretations of design; all through the as of yet unjaded eyes of children.

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Iranian Moderne as represented by the carpet 'Miran' by Farahan Carpet. | Image courtesy of Farahan Carpet. | The Ruggist.

Iranian Moderne | Farahan Carpet

Persian and Oriental are two terms whose use in reference to rugs and carpets conjures mental images of familiar designs such as Tabriz, Kashan, Heriz, and Kerman even if the proper names remain unfamiliar or unknown. These designs, just like many others originating in either Iran itself, the geography of the former Persian Empire, and indeed in Central-Asia broadly have also come to be known as so-called Traditional carpets with all three terms used more or less interchangeably, in part due to the region’s former centuries spanning dominance of carpet production and trade. So while there inarguably remain innumerable examples of equally as traditional weaving and design the world over, the aesthetics of Persia have come to monopolize what is known as Traditional, Oriental, or Persian (T.O.P.) design, at least in rugs and carpets from the Western perspective.

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Jan Kath has introduced a new carpet named 'Magic View II' which is a fusion of Magic View and Cloud. | The Ruggist

Magic View II | Jan Kath

As the early 21st century begins to wane many of the innovations which have propelled the art of carpetry to its current zenith have passed from novel to commonplace. The technology which brought forth the rise of photorealism in carpets is now pervasive; its functionality enjoyed by countless carpet makers and designers the world over – regardless of their artistic or aesthetic merits. This is the natural state of progress, yet as any connoisseur knows there can be and is great divide between technical and artistic acclaim. In short, just because one can manipulate an image via computer and make it into a carpet does not mean one should. However, time and time again the firm of Jan Kath has demonstrated an adept ability to find balance between technical achievement and artistic merit; this is the nexus point, the so-called ‘sweet spot’, and in its latest manifestation it presents itself as the enchanting ‘Magic View II’.

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Ragmate is the 2018 evolution of the successful Ragamuf Chair Cover of 2017. Image courtesy of Ragmate. | The Ruggist

Avant-garde Rugs for a Modern Crisis | Ragmate

While the Ragmate Collection of cushion (toss pillow) covers, throw rugs, floor rugs and wall rugs possesses the same endearing shaggy texture as the original Ragamuf, the technique of manufacture differs. Instead of being handknotted to a stretchy substrate – as was the process for the Ragamufs designed by Finnish designer Tuula Pöyhönen – Ragmates are instead knotted to a stable net, which is a ‘very old and common technique, at least in Finland’ according to Leskelä. Utilizing waste textiles from the fashion industry, Ragmate is the realization of the long-held dream of Leskelä and the result of her endeavours to help those in need. ‘I want to use my skills and expertise so that as many female refugees as possible will have the chance to improve their condition to survive in their lives.’ Each individual and unique Ragmate (no two are the same) bears attribution for the Syrian refugee who handknotted it and in some instances even offers inspirational thoughts from the same.

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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 Handmade Carpet | A Review

The nearly three-hundred pages of text and imagery of ‘The Handmade Carpet’ contain a wealth of knowledge accumulated over the long and storied careers of the authors Fritz Langauer and Ernst A. Swietly. The assertive authors undoubtably put forth superior and exhaustive efforts in compiling what amounts to multiple lifetimes of experience, information, expertise, commentary, and so forth as they attempt to explain, as the subtitle of the tome – ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary Rugs’ – purports, contemporary rugs and carpets. In the final analysis however, it must be stated that while the volumn is indeed comprehensive in regard to certain aspects of contemporary carpetry, it likewise lacks in its treatment of contemporary as the word has come to be employed in the colloquial of today.

Read more
Avail an Interior Designer | Op-Ed - Thoughts from the staff of Cyrus Artisan Rugs on the use and role of Interior Designers. - The Ruggist

Avail an Interior Designer | Op-Ed

The profession of Interior Design is the art of coming up with a visually appealing and functional scheme for a room or building’s interior so as to uplift it in terms of aesthetic and functionality. According to a thesis by Amany Hendy of Damietta University titled ‘The Positive effects of Interior Design for Human Psychological Health’, one of the facets that moderate the affective states of humans is the overall look and feel of their surroundings. When people are pleased with the arrangement of their environment, they experience a morale boost and are much more likely to report higher levels of happiness as opposed to those who dwell in banal vacuum-like settings which do not speak to them aesthetically. For this reason, the role of the Interior Designers is of much greater importance than what the majority of people would have us believe.

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