Good day and welcome! I would like to preface this post by saying that this year’s NYICS was the absolute most fun I’ve ever had at a rug market, baring the late saturday night adventures of the January 2002 Atlanta Market. “Semper Fi!” as they say. My continued encounters with existing friends, long lost relatives, new friends, and fleeting meetings with apparently former friends made for an exciting two days. We laughed, we laughed some more, we tried to figure out how “The Ruggist” could make money, and oh, I almost forgot we looked at: rugs. How could I forget about the rugs? There were a lot. More than twice as many than last year, and that is a great sign! Shall we then?
The featured lead review goes to: Tamarian
Situated prominently along the main aisle right off the elevators it would be hard to miss the expansive booth of Tamarian, but that alone is not why they get lead review. If you will allow me: They get the lead review because my dear friend Ned Baker has once again jumped ship and switched rug companies, this time going to, obviously, Tamarian. Fortunately for Mr. Baker he got off the last ship before it sank (more on this later). So to settle what I am to understand it a bet: Yes. Tamarian will get better coverage on The Ruggist. For now at least. But back to the rugs….
After a “difference of opinions” with the management of Tamarian over my characterization of their use of samples in the Winter 2009 Issue of Cover, it was nice to be welcomed into their booth and to discuss, at tedious length (similar to this blog post), that characterization. For the record, I offer the following correction:
“My Winter 2009 Cover Article “Simply the Best” suffers from a bit of ambiguity, in that the reader could be mislead into believing that Lapchi was making samples before Tamarian, which obviously cannot be the case as Tamarian existed before Lapchi. Moreover, it should be noted that Tamarian differs greatly from Lapchi by offering a very comprehensive stocking program in conjunction with their samples.” End correction. In the end, my use of the word “pioneered” (in the article) was incorrect, and perhaps the Lord Cybor and the Vavasour Higgins and the Vassal Baker know that The Ruggist takes word choice very seriously, and so were easily able to sway me. That may be the case, but I still stand by the fact Lapchi took sampling to the forefront of rugs sales (at least pre Great Recession). That is a fact, as is the fact that Tamarian has a great stocking program that has benefited them during (and post) the Great Recession. I wonder if someone will complaint I said Lapchi too much? Probably.
But the rugs! Everyone should know I am not a fan of neutral rugs, it is just not who I am, but I’m no fool either. A good forty to sixty percent (40-60%) of broadloom sales (depending on whom you ask) is in some form of beige-ish neutral, and it is no leap of deduction to say this translates to rugs as well. Tamarian offers a wide range of designs, presented in a palate that, well quite frankly, sells. Obviously you can customize it, but sometimes at the end of the day you and your customer just want something from stock, and chances are, it might happen to be beige. Well then we know whose been getting those sales don’t we? Facetiousness aside, Tamarian is a successful company, with a dedicated and hard working staff, who sell, ship and deliver the rugs and carpets customers want to buy. As Ned Baker says: “Those who like to sell rugs, sell beige rugs”. It pains The Ruggist’s heart to nod in tacit agreement.
BONUS: Carol Piper and Ryan Reitmeyer.
Quoting Ned Baker reminded me of my encounter with Carol and Ryan. I know them by way of their passionate love of Red Spruce and the wonderful carpets we make (shameless but relevant plug), but this may well have only been my second time meeting them. Ryan should be an acknowledged up and coming rug expert if he is not already, and Carol is an established dealer with a discerning eye known for her taste. I’d tell you what she thinks of rugs, or coffee, or monday mornings, but every time she turned to talk to me she began with: “Don’t quote me on this.” That happens more and more often these days, and unlike other journalists, I follow that maxim. Maybe Ned should have told me not to quote him….
Critical Rug Review: Bravin Lee Programs.
Bravin Lee is a partnership that sees artist’s designs from various media made into limited edition rugs in runs of fifteen or twenty it seems to be. While this concept is neither new or innovative, nor quite frankly really tends to increases the salability of the rug, it does give the end user something nice to talk about during parties. One rug in particular caught my eye because of its very strong geometric design. I must have walked by and stared at in about four times before I went into the booth to examine it more closely. The design called to me because of my irrational and innate love of most things geometric. It was further endeared to it when the woman in the booth told me it was a “James Siena”; she must have known I love accredited work. But then she said seven words that made me want to cry, “It is based on the Fibonacci number….” to which I emphatically said in a superior tone “No it’s not” and then she continued “Oh yes we counted it out many times” and not wanting to be one to argue in public I let it go. Until now.
(The Ruggist Illustration on Left, Bravin Lee “Nine Constant Windows” on Right)
I will fully concede this design was most certainly inspired by the Fibonacci number, but it is not based or derived from it, and this is why. First off, the Fibonacci number or sequence if you will yields the “golden rectangle” which has proportions in the vicinity of 1:1.61803399. As you can see in the illustration above (their rug on the right, my like-coloured illustration on the left) their rug is more “square” than the correct proportions as illustrated by me. Furthmore, all of the sub elements of a Fibonacci rectangle are squares (as is required to build the proportions, and is a function of the sequence itself) not rectangles as in their design. I’ve been studying their design now for four (4) days and while there seems to be a pattern of “halfing” the larger elements to produce the next smaller, or doubling the smaller to produce the next larger, this alternating rectangle-square motif is not fibonacci.
I think what really got my goat as they say though, is that this rug is being presented as based on the fibonacci number, when it in fact it completely disregards the historical, mathematical, and aesthetic importance the number has played on proportion. Architecture is no stranger to the proportions, and many argue (some would say incorrectly) neither is nature. Regardless of the intentions, this rug fails to pay homage to the number on which it is supposedly based, but in the spirit of an art gallery producing rugs, it has me upset and talking, and isn’t that what good art is about?
BONUS: Talk about picking a fight!
Not being one to shy (to much) away from controversy, I was paralyzed and awe struck on the sunday night of the show when at the Hotel Ganzevoort Park a fight nearly broke out between two presumably equally drunk rug dealers. I’m not gonna name names (I don’t even know the one.), but I think the eminent fisticuffs were the result of unrequited affection toward a lady. What happened to the good old days in Atlanta when drunken rug dealers just hired a, as we used to say in german class: “fraulein von der nacht”?
I am sure Tom Demarco is wondering what he did to deserve placement on the heels of that last sentence, but I can assure you it was nothing more than making beautiful carpets, and having wonderful staff. What can I say about his carpets other than I am a fan, and not in that lame Mandarin Oriental Hotel advertising campaign way either. Though his designs are subtle and his colourations most often monochromatic, they do not lack colour, imagination, or vibrance. Great blues, oranges, and browns abound and his ability to produce a flatweave and a pile carpet that are nearly indiscernible at twenty meters, still amazes me. A special welcome goes out to Daniel Tillman who recently joined with Kooches in capacity as salesman. Daniel it turns out is a distant cousin of mine (more on this in the next blog) through marriage, and has become one of the most avid readers of “The Ruggist”.
BONUS: AmericasMART Stalkers
Q: Why does the NYICS allow salesman from other shows to walk the floor?
A: It makes even the most aggressive rug dealer look mild.
Wool and Silk Rugs
Eponymously named, Wool and Silk Rugs produces simply that: Rugs made of wool and silk. The owner, Erbil Tezcan and his quite capable assistant (if that is the right title, she was seductively vague in describing her position) Andrea Moomjy exhibited a bold and colourful collection of Tibetan weave rugs that easily caught my eye, as I too am a victim of “What’s New? Syndrome”. And while he told me to not tell everyone, I feel there is no privilege as it were, as it is an integral feature of his product, which he has surely told to many of his now twenty some odd dealers. So, what is it? Blended wool and silk, but not, as I’ve been schooled, by plying together at the yarn stage, but rather by intermixing at the carding stage. Is this technically achievable? They were first told no, but worked to make it happen. I consulted a (knowledgeable) friend who also had never heard of this, but then again, if you told me in 1992, that I could download music to my iPhone via the Internet, I would have said “Whaaaaaat?”. Regardless, the strong use of colour paired with a great texture and visual appeal makes for beautiful rugs. I wish all the best to Erbil!
Speaking of colour. Wow! Beautiful rugs made in Iran that unfortunately we won’t be seeing in the United States any time soon, due to the pending Iranian embargo. It is a shame as well. With bold saturated colours and appealing non traditional designs, their carpets speak to someone who is not afraid to make a statement. In fact, I’d own one.
BONUS: Iranian Rug Embargo
The Ruggist writes about whatever he wants because there are no advertisers to answer to. At the end of the day, The Ruggist is just an opinionated rug dealer like everyone else. Ok, not like everyone else, but you get the point. What gets read though is another story. The Iranian rug embargo is of true importance to the industry, yet on the day I posted the article, only fifty-four (54) people read my post, whereas on the day I wrote about a certain rug brand’s new midwestern showroom 142 people read the post. Clearly gossip sells, now if only I was selling something. Fortunately not all is lost, as the Iranian Embargo post is doing quiet well with follow up readership, but it does go to show what people like to read. And, not being one to disappoint….
I’ve previously offended the people at Rug Insider by deriding them for calling certain designs of New Moon “old”, and with fair warning I am about to once again cause a kerfuffle if for no other reason than to draw attention to pressing concerns within the industry. The “Embargo Fever” article in the Fall 2010 Issue of Rug Insider fails miserably in its attempt to address the embargo because: 1) It interviews only a very defined demographic of insiders (clearly the target audience of the publication and its advertising base as well), who 2) Present nearly identical stock answers to identical questions, that 3) Fail to tell a narrative or take a definitive editorial stance, and that 4) Sheds a little light into why rugs sales are suffering so much. To quote Djalal Mohammadi of Tepp Team USA “I have enough inventory for a couple of years”. And that, pardon my expression, shitload of years old stale inventory and ignorance of the realities of contemporary consumer habits is, my dear readers, the reason sales of traditionally styled rugs have been loosing ground to modern design.
BONUS: Foreign Language F.Y.I.
If you want to have a private conversion in a foreign language in front of someone, you should be sure the third party doesn’t know the language.
One of a kind rugs that make The Ruggist swoon! “Waiiiiiiiit” you say. “Why is it that The Ruggist likes neutral, predominately beige traditionally styled rugs from Ariana, but at the same time derides other manufacturers for producing products of similar aesthetic value?” Because Ariana just gets it right. The paring of traditional design and design elements, presented in a neutral palate, executed with near flawless quality on a one of a kind basis. This embodies the best of what rug production used to, and should be! Quality and rugs aside, I just love watching what I call “The Unveiling” If you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to get out of your little hole in the wall rug showroom and join the big boys at rug market. Yes that statement was arrogant and full of ego, and if you’ve ever watched “The Unveiling” you know that Ariana’s sales approach is comprised of three parts: 1) Beautiful Rugs 2) Circus like atmosphere and, you’ll pardon the language again, 3) Pissing Match. Even if they didn’t make great rugs, I’d come for the spectacle of it all.
This concludes our “regularly” scheduled NYICS review. I would however like to take a moment to briefly mention a few other people and companies whom I saw at NYICS and what, if anything, made them stand out.
Art Beyond Borders – One of a kind, handwoven tapestries in modern designs. Great colour!
Haynes Robinson / Rug Alliance Zurich – The unimaginably beautiful and layered designs of Sahar. Now available sample sized!
Lapchi – New designs, new colourations, and a steady traffic flow. Sasha is still as charming and personable as ever.
New Moon – Noticeably absent was J.D. Kurtz, but his lovely daughters held down the booth.
The New England Collection – Great product bases on historic North American designs. Thumps up!
Robin Gray – Great looking rugs presented by such a passionate staff. They’ve recently open a new larger home showroom in Santa Fe.
Woven Legends – Beautiful rugs as always. If you’re tired of the stale Iranian goods referenced above, buy something from Woven Legends.
Zollanvari – Great Iranian Gabbeh’s. At least if they’ve stockpiled these they wont look stale.
SUPER BONUS: Halvai closure!
As you may have heard, Bill Ward’s Havlai closed up both his expansive Soho showroom, and from what we gather, operations in general. The Ruggist had avoided reporting of the pending demise of The SS Halvai for quite come time, as gentleman don’t kick when others are down, but from our understanding even the rats were running from the water. As mentioned previously, Ned Baker narrowly escaped aboard the Super Luxury Yacht that is the SS Tamarian and is now sailing in the calm and lucrative waters off the moon drenched shores of Beigelandia.
Reports have it that Mr. Ward has not left the rug business and is now heading up rug and carpet production at Lillian August, which is further supported by the former Halvai website suggesting webgoers visit Lillian August dot com.
As always, thanks for reading.
Editorial Note: This post was edited on October 22, 2010 to correct the spelling of Ryan Higgins’ last name. I apologize for the error.