DOMOTEX 2012: The Ruggist Review
DOMOTEX 2012: The Ruggist Review

DOMOTEX 2012: The Ruggist Review

EDIT: Please be advised that this post was changed from its original to correct an error. Thank you to one of my diligent readers for pointing out the error. My apologies go to Theko – whose carpets I erroneously initially attributed to Mischioff – for the oversight.
With apologies to Mr. Baz Luhrmann: Ladies and Gentleman of the known world of rugs (particularly those “non-western, non-white gentlemen” exhibiting at DOMOTEX in Hall 21 at Deutsche Messe): Quit Smoking! If I could offer you but one piece advice, “quit smoking” would be it. The long term benefits of not smoking have been proved by science, whereas the rest of this post has no basis more reliable than my own (very) meandering experience. I will dispense this opinion now. Enjoy!
The Trip!
I’ve been wanting to go to DOMOTEX for years. Years I say. But for years I’ve also been putting it off. Mostly because I had never been (trepidation) and, quite frankly, because Hannover (one of the least exciting German cities – let’s face it, it is no Berlin) becomes outrageously expensive during the show. This year however proved to be the year to go, because (wait for it, wait for it, self serving plug ahead) one of my carpets (that is to say Red Spruce’s Studio Carpets) was a shortlisted finalist in the Inaugural Year of the “Best Studio Artist” category of the Carpet Design Awards (CDA), which for those of you unaware are, to quote their own material, “the ultimate accolade worldwide for handmade carpets, confirming the stature of the winners and shortlisted companies as the leading edge of the rug industry.” Or so we are to believe. Regardless of my reason for going really (and skipping past the CDA review as that is a future post) I attended the show, had an amazing time, and saw what – my dear colleagues in the United States who still attend NORS at Americasmart in Atlanta fail to see –  is the future of rugs.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to award the “honour” of the lead review to a company that really made me stop and say wow, or who personally invited me to their booth, or who bribed me (I’m kidding), or as is most often the case one who had the “je ne sais quoi”. That being said, the lead review goes to: (Imagine an envelope being opened) Creative Matters!!
Creative Matters
I’ve been following Creative Matters from a distance ever since I was first made aware of them when they joined GoodWeave in around 2008. I’ve marveled at their ability to produce a lot of good quality designs, maintain a great work ethos, and most recently, their willingness to tell some less than ethical elements of the rug world where to go when the later knocked off a Creative Matters design. Though the details of the settlement are confidential, we can assume they were favourable to Creative Matters. Score one for those fighting the good fight as is said. Anyway, I took this opportunity to finally introduce myself to the Creative Matters team and to see their designs for myself. This is how it went (mostly) when The Ruggist (TR) and his husband (NC) walked into the Creative Matters booth and started looking around:

TR to NC: Blah, Blah, Blah, this company is from Toronto. Pretty Designs, Etc, Blah.
NC to TR: Oh Toronto is so boring.
TR to NC: Oh I know it is, but they make some decent looking designs. Plus they just settled a copyright infringement lawsuit.
NC to TR: Oh?
TR to NC: Yea. Some cheap machine made company in Quebec I think was making a schlocky knock off of one of their designs, or so I am to gather.
AW (Woman whom I’ve never met walks over) to TR and NC: Hello.
TR and NC: Hello! We’re just enjoying your beautiful rugs.
AW: Oh these are some of our designs from the “Art Day Collection”.
TR: Oh I’ve been reading about those on facebook. (You too can follow Creative Matters on facebook)
AW: Hi. I’m Abigail (Williams)!
TR: Nice to meet you Abigail, I’m Michael.. (Interrupted by AW)
AW: Oh I know who you are.

And that ladies and gentlemen (who have quit smoking I hope) is how you get the lead review. Flatter the ego of The Ruggist! But I digress. As it turns out Abigail reads “The Ruggist” and well the rest is obvious.
Abigail went on to further explain the concept of the “Art Day Collection” and how it came to be. In short, the entire Creative Matters team gets together in the office several times and year and plays art class. These conceptual images may then go on to become designs in their own right, or might be the basis for a derivative work, or might live out of sight in a dusty binder waiting for the whims of style and fashion to make them desirable. In any event, I love the collaborative nature of this concept and the designs it produces. Overall, I find the colourations they were exhibiting to be a little “neutral” for my taste with a majority of designs highlighted in a colour they call platinum. Platinum however is thankfully not beige (more on this in a minute), and from my understanding of the Toronto market, it is also likely very well suited to their clientele.
Abigail also introduced us to Donna and Carol who are the Directors of Creative Matters (which is celebrating 25 Years in 2012 by the way) and whom I might also add are wonderfully passionate about their work. Creative Matters is a member of GoodWeave and Label STEP, and (with apologies to my friend who is subject to an imminent downgrade) are now my new best Canadian rug friends.
Label STEP
DOMOTEX for me was like the candy store for those kids who get turned loose in them. So much new to see and do and I wanted to take it all in. Another first was finally meeting Reto Aschwanden of Label STEP in person. And just like that aforementioned former best Canadian rug friend, the “swoon” I previously awarded to Jurgen Dahlmanns of RugStar has now been been awarded to Reto. Mr. Aschwanden was most hospitable when we visited his booth, treating us to a wonderful cup of coffee (It was fairly traded, we asked!), explaining Label STEP, and in general discussing the carpet industry.
My swoonful crush on Reto aside, I was really excited to learn more about Label STEP. I truly appreciate and fully agree with their efforts to ensure fair trade throughout the entire distribution chain of rugs and carpets. Equitable (and negotiated, not dictated) treatment for all! If the The Ruggist had a seal of approval and endoursement it would go to Label STEP.
Furthermore and barely related, Herr Ashwanden (for whom English is a second language and who is not as intimately aware of the North American rug industry as The Ruggist) made the following comment to me. To paraphrase: “When I first read your post on beige I did not understand why you went on and on about beige carpets. Then I went to the NYICS and now I understand.”
Take that beige!!
The Ruggist (Centre) and Others
I will not belabour the child-labour issue as you all know where I stand. But I will take a moment to publicly say thank you to my friends at GoodWeave who graciously held our coats during the show. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner out with existing (I cannot say old for various reasons) friends Nina Smith, and Scott Welker and new friend Afghanistan Country Director Fazel Wasit. We also enjoyed several cups of coffee at the GoodWeave booth. Who had better coffee? GoodWeave or Label STEP? Ha! The Ruggist isn’t that foolish, but I will tell you it is spelled: S – A – H – A – R.
As always I wish both GoodWeave and Label STEP the best in their continued efforts.
I walked into the Sahar pavilion (booth would be a bit of an understatement) and was warmly greeted by Behrouz Sarlak who welcomed us, offered us a seat, and had a staffer conjure up for us what was arguably the best cup of coffee we had at DOMOTEX. To be fair, it was espresso but it was hands down the winner. Before this becomes a blog post about coffee I will move on and say frankly would I expect nothing less from the team of Behrouz Sarlak and Haynes Robinson that has brought us some of the most beautiful carpets produced today.
I’ve known Haynes since around 2005/2006 and I’ve always enjoyed working with him. I believe he is one of the great designers producing carpets today. He is not just taking a seemingly random design and making it as a carpet. Rather he intimately understands construction and designs with that in mind. His carpets stand on their own and don’t require explanation. They posses great balance of colour and have a supple hand. In short. A+
Our notice of Mischioff came early on day two when my husband and I were just arriving at the show as it opened. As it typical everyone was slowly warming up for the long day ahead. As we walked past the Mischioff booth we saw the following carpet and my heart fell in love.
This wins the “Coveted” Award (as in it is something I covet, not that people seek out this award) presented by The Ruggist. It is no secret I love tartans (plaids) and that I am kind of a pushover for classic designs and patterns, so it should come as no shock that this carpet speaks to me. Checks! Houndsthooth! Tartans! Deconstructed Plaids! And on top of it all, the design is rotated 45 degrees so that the straight lines run on the bias of the warp and weft. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s playful and it says “I’m my own person for buying this.” And that ladies and gentlemen (have you quit smoking?) is what great (timeless) design is about: self-expression.
I would like to thank Sascha Mischioff for taking the time to show us their rugs.
Theko was brought to my attention by the ever charming (and British!! – more on this in a bit) David Young of Cover, who pointed out the carpets displayed on the exterior of the Theko booth. The designs were your basic repeating geometrics and florals, but executed in a most interesting way. Constructed using alternating rows of loop and cut pile, the design was only knotted in the cut pile section. This broke up the design and gave it great visual depth. Upon close examination the design was not overly apparent, but as one moved further from the carpet, the overall design emerged. I thought/think this is a great combination of techniques.
Knots Rugs
Have you ever seen “Absolutely Fabulous”? I have, and if I had ever suspected the characters in that show were based on real people my suspicions would have been proven true when I met the two women behind Knots Rugs. With the admission that I find british accents mesmerizing, and with all kidding aside, the lovely Linny Moss and Bonnie Sutton were simply charming. Their rugs are equality as charming and exhibit a great deal of interplay between the designs. Elements from one design are taken and given an exaggerated scale leading to a new design. Though this is apparent when viewed and examined as a collection, individually the carpets still stand upon their own. 
Forever Daisy from Knots Rugs
Shout Outs!
DOMOTEX, like ay other trade show, is not just about seeing new product. It is about seeing and being seen. Who’s going to the show, and who’s not. What is one dealer buying and why? You know: Gossip! I’d like to acknowledge the following people whom I saw at DOMOTEX:
Robin Gray of Robin Gray Design – It was great to see my dear friend Robin and I say thank you for generously allowing us to use the above photo from the GoodWeave booth.
The entire Interior Resources Family – There is nothing like running into friends while you’re stuffing your face with a hot dog and beer at a trade show. (I was the one stuffing.)
Michael Pourvakil of Weavers Art – I ran into Michael just as he was grabbing lunch and he was, as always, looking sharp in his signature suit and tie. As Toronto’s (and by extension perhaps Canada’s) premier rug dealer he is seen at nearly every important rug show because, as his advertising says, “Michael knows rugs…”
Michael Mandapati of Warp and Weft – My apologies to my good and dear friend Michael. I ran into him literally minutes after seeing Mr. Pourvakil and I mistakingly call Mr. Mandapati Mr. Pourvakil. I am still mortified. 
Bob Cadry of Cadry’s – It is always a pleasure to see our friend from Oz and it was equally as nice to meet his son. I felt a little foolish complaining about being jet lagged to someone who just flew forty-elevety times further than I had, but what can I say.
Rug Star
He might be the current rock star (I am guessing this not so subtle play on words is quite intentional) of the the rug world, and I’ve been a fan of Jurgen Dahlmanns’ designs and advertising for years, but I must say I was a bit disappointed by the inaccessibility of the Rug Star booth and the impervious velvet rope. Full disclosure: I once worked for a company that employed the “velvet rope” and at the time I found it novel and imparting of a certain air of exclusivity. Now in my later years I find it arrogant that any producer of unnecessary and luxury goods (lets face it, no one truly needs a rug) would – at a trade show – present barriers to sale.
It is worth noting however that in principle I do agree with the concept of barriers to sale when dealing with the great unwashed masses (to exaggerate the elitist point), but at a show where the attendees are “qualified” I say welcome them all.
Jan Kath
If Mr. Dahlmanns is the “rock star” of the industry, then Jan Kath is the golden boy. But if you want to know why that is, you’ll need to read my next post: The CDA review.
After the CDA awards ceremony I stopped by to congratu…, err say “Hi” to Jan. (I don’t want to give anything away.) We exchanged a few words about design and he offered that his bar was our bar. Had we not needed to rush off to dinner with friends, we would have stayed and had one too many! Jan Kath was presenting, as always, a wonderful array of carpets with great design. He really and truly understands designing fashionable carpets. 
The Conclusion
For those like me who have, err had, never been to DOMOTEX I cannot emphasize enough the importance of attending this show. At the same time I should say that I may be attending NORS next year so that I can stay abreast of the goings on in Atlanta. But then again, I’ve kind of dug myself into a hole on that one and maybe I should just stay in it, but I digress.
DOMOTEX is of course not just handmade area rugs. It is hall after hall of everything floors and floorcovering, though for self apparent reasons I focused on handmade. I had the pleasure of meeting the Sales Director of FOXI (The rug underlay with the sexiest name around that is also French!) who as we were finishing our discussion in broken English (on his part) and broken French (on our part) asked what I consider to be the phrase that best sums up the rug industry: How many containers can I put you down for? Oh how I love the rug industry.
And finally ladies and gentlemen, a word of advice from my husband. If you simply cannot go without a smoke, might we suggest using a Camel Brand Smoking Lounge (We don’t actually endourse smoking tobacco, it is gross). Otherwise we don’t want your smokey carpets. 
Actual Camel Brand Smoking Lounge at the Frankfurt Airport. 
It has been a pleasure entertaining and informing you today. As our friends at Lufthansa say: Thank you and good-bye.