Ashtari Carpets is a rug and carpet retailer located in Antwerp, Belgium specializing in modern decorative carpets and select rare antique carpets. Their contemporary offerings hail from some of the best currently in the business including Wool and Silk, cc-tapis, and Edelgrund, all of whom produce world class carpets which Ashtari presents with a stylish if not also somewhat sexy sensibility. It’s this sensibility – which lies in direct contrast to the staid and antiquated ‘here’s a pile of rugs’ approach – that first caught our eye and, as a brief aside, is one we hope will continue to evolve, becoming more pervasive as time progresses.
Earlier this month during the inaugural Istanbul Carpet Week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Reza Ashtari, second generation owner of Ashtari Carpets and spoke with him regarding his firm’s collaboration with design house Muller Van Severen in creating ‘carpet blue/green’ for the ‘Biennale Interieur‘.
The carpet is a beautifully crafted piece that objectifies the best of not only design but of technical carpet production. Reminiscent of ribbons blowing in the wind, confetti flowing as though it were ticker tape at a parade from some bygone era, or tossed tissue from a recently unpacked delicate tchotchke, the subtle gradation of colour in the elements is further accented by the deft use of materials. Tibetan highland wool was utilized where a more matte effect was required, silk for lustrous shininess in some of the ribbons, and pashmina wool for an extra white appearance and added softness to the overall hand of the carpet. As a whole, the blending of visual and tactile textures creates a carpet more in tune with the variety of the world, than one made solely of one material, and in truth, one harmonious with the impetus of the design. One in which the ‘coherent variation of raw materials causes a change in the spectator’s perception depending on the way the light hits the more matte woollen and shiny silk parts.’
‘Of course I gave them [the designers] carte blanche in the design process, so my role was to advise them mostly on the technical side of what was possible and what not.’ begins Reza Ashtari while discussing the project, ‘The idea was to make the rug dynamic from any point of view. This meant that one must see that there is movement in the rug. Flapping pieces of textile moving gently in the air was the main inspiration for this rug.’
This is the first ever carpet design from designers Hannes Van Severen and Fien Muller of firm Muller Van Severen and Reza speaks unreservedly about the collaboration. ‘We are honoured to have had the opportunity to work with Hannes and Fien on this special handknotted rug. We, that is my partner Wendy who is a graphic designer and I contacted the designers and they where immediately very positive about doing a project together. We had a very nice meeting and we enjoyed being in each others company. For us, it is very important to connect well with these creators. The entire process of designing, coordinating, advising, strike-offs, presenting, marketing and branding is something that needs a lot of planning and communication between parties. That’s why I think a good project can only be successful if everybody is on the same page and can work nicely together.’
The designers – whose work is largely in furnishings – also expressed their gratitude toward Ashtari for offering an opportunity to create something in a new medium, in materials other than what they are generally accustomed to. The resultant design is a derivative collage of stilllifes from Fien’s photographic work, which Fien and Hannes then arranged into a new composition. It is this pairing of disparate media which most appeals to Reza and motivates him to pursue these artistic endeavours.
‘The reason why I do these collaborations is in fact my curiosity in seeing how specific designers from a specific field can create something new and out of the box. Something I would perhaps never think about. Something that is new to the sector and the carpet business in general. What is their view on a rug? How would they translate their ideas into a carpet design? It intrigues me very much.’
Reza plans to continue doing projects such as this well into the future, collaborating with other designers, artists, product developers, architects, textile designers, influencers, et cetera, to become, in his words, ‘sort of curator of original and extraordinary rug designs by interesting people from all kinds of fields and sectors in the world.’ If ‘carpet blue/green’ is any indication, we cannot wait to see what the future brings.
‘carpet blue/green’ is a 150 knot Tibetan weave carpet made in Nepal in a limited edition of eight (2) with two (2) artist’s proofs. Sized at 8ft x 10ft (200cm x 300cm) production time in approximately fourteen (14) weeks and pricing is available upon request from the Valerie Traan Gallery which is exhibiting the carpet.
Update: On 20 May 2021, ‘carpet blue/green’ by Ashtari Carpets won the Carpet Design Awards in the category of ‘Best Modern Design Deluxe.’ Presented by Domotex in collaboration with Hali and Cover Magazines, this accolade coming five (5) years after the creation of ‘carpet blue/green’ speaks to the timeless and enduring nature of good design; antithesis to the fast-fashion model pervasively destroying the art of carpetry and the planet.