This week is a low impact week for me. As I write this, I am mentally preparing for an important meeting at the end of the week and I do not want to re-read my notes again. I am using my favorite technique to prepare, that is: If you don’t know it by now, you aren’t going to know it. What better way to not re-read them, than to write a blog entry? Here is a review of recent activities, travels, and thoughts.
The Hajji Baba Club
I recently attended a meeting of this venerable club of rug collectors by way of an invitation from my associate Sheridan Black at Custom Cool. I would like to publicly thank her and the rest of the “Hajjis”, as they are known, for their hospitality. While not discounting the pleasantries of schmoozing, cocktail hour, and dinner, the evening’s highlight was a presentation by Raoul “Mike” Tschebull, in which he offered his contemporary view of old caucasian rugs.
The standout, light-bulb moment of the evening was his hypothesis that the negative space created in felt carpets (of the period) can and did spawn the creation of new design elements in woven or knotted carpets. Is he right? He certainly makes a compelling case, and his recognized authority on the subject at hand lends further credibility, and so I would be inclined to say he is. Regardless of your thoughts though, a critical and creative eye put to any design is sure to bring inspiration and the development of new designs. Furthermore, another point he made on more than one occasion during his presentation was that without veritable documentation, there is no way for any of us to know exactly what was going on in the past, and to extrapolate, to do so is merely an academic exercise. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes we all may need a reminder of exactly that.
Note: Mr. Tschebull is the second of the two mentioned unnamed authorities in my last blog post (Found Here!). I did not wish to tarnish his name by including it directly in the last rant, err post.
Quality for the sake of quality.
I am currently reading a book entitled “The Craftsman” by Richard Sennett. While I have yet to get that far into it (why do people talk to you on a plane when you are clearly trying to read?), I feel compelled to share. As part of a three book series, this installment focuses on the individual craftsman, and the premise that an individual should do a task and do it well if for nothing else the sake of doing the task well.
Obviously, this perked my ears! “This sounds just like my premise of making great carpets for the sake of making great carpets” I thought to myself, before driving across town to find the one copy still in stock. Of course, I am not the first person to think this way, and I lay no claim to the concept, however I do subscribe to it. While I have no idea how the book will relate (if at all), it started me thinking. Who makes great carpets? and moreover, What makes a carpet great? While I have answers to my own questions, I am not about to share the names in the former publicly. Are you fracking crazy? (That’s for my friends who are now lamenting the loss of their TV show…) The later however I will now address, and you can theorize…
Makings of a Great Carpet (Circa 2009 – Applicable to New Construction Only)
Reliance on superior materials. The carpet or rug must be made of durable, renewable, natural materials. A short list includes: Wool, Silk, Linen, Cotton, Nettle, Hemp, Cashmere…. I will acknowledge that cotton could be classed as non-renewable, depending on how environmental you are. Also, what dyes are used? Are they environmentally friendly and/or long lasting? Resistance to running and crocking?
Equity in production. Is each person or entity involved in the production earning fair and appropriate compensation for their tasks? Everyone involved is entitled to make money and profit is not a bad word, however, proportional distribution of said profits is important.
Design, and integrity of design. The manufacturer/importer must be using their own designs, or designs they have right to use, and furthermore the design(s) should stand on it own, and also not as part of a larger whole. This rules out custom rugs that only look good in the environment for which they were created.
Serviceability and wear. Can the rug be repaired? Easily cleaned? How durable compared to other rugs? Basically, is the rug going to last?
Proportions. While you could consider this part of the design, I wanted to separate it as it own. Does the shape of the rug (and its proportions) relate well to the design. This is HIGHLY subjective, but a critical point.
Resources, their availability, and their use. Does the production of the carpet make best use of the available resources? Re-use of materials? Cradle to grave planning? How much waste is generated in the production of the rug, not just of raw materials, but also in electricity, fuel and the like. Are the waste materials diverted, to be repurposed or recycled?
Use of best methods. Does the construction use the best construction methods available for the type of rug? Best is broadly classed as the most enduring or historic techniques. Innovation is permitted provided it can be verified as an improvement.
Craftsmanship and attention to detail. Is it well made? Is it finished properly? How does it compare to other rugs made by the same manufacturer/importer (consistency)?
Execution of colour. As previously stated (See here) colour is what gets your attention, so for a great rug to be, the colouration has to be brilliant, well thought out, attractive, enduring, and with just a touch of poison. I could argue this would rule out beige, but for those rare cases where beige is executed well, I will allow it.
Taking the nine (9) criteria into account then, we can judge if a rug is truly a great rug. Of course, keeping in mind the concluding sentences of my last blog post.
I mentally debated for about thirty (30) seconds before deciding to comment on an advertisement I recently saw, deciding that if a company puts something in print, in a distributed publication (regardless of the number distributed), whose audience is not bound by confidentiality, that it is fair game. Therefore! I give you…
“Rugs Designed By Homosexuals”
While perusing and ogling the Winter 2008/09 Issue of Butt Magazine (Butt. This link contains nude imagery of men. You’ve been warned.) About a third of the way into the magazine, there one finds a right-hand side advertisement for Delinear Rugs. No images of rugs, Pink copy (by nature of the colour of the paper), set against a plain matte black background. The company logotype is horizontally centered about two-thirds of the way up the page, with the tagline “Rugs Designed By Homosexuals” underneath. In the upper left corner, near the fold, you can find very limited contact info and a website address. Some will say that the ad can’t possibly sell rugs with no images of them, but to understand the advertisement is to understand the magazine, and its target audience. Something the people at Delinear clearly do understand. This ad is simply brilliant, and I hope they get lots of response to it. For those of you who know me, this now ranks up with Jan Kath’s Wunderland brochure as best rug advertisement (ever?). Brava! (And I do mean brava for those in San Francisco. *grin)