The process of making custom or bespoke rugs and carpets is one that has many benefits both for the manufacturer as well as the consumer. Consumers enjoy the luxury of specifying each of every detail of the carpet – within the confines of a particular makers capabilities – and individual makers, importers, and retailers realize lower inventory cost and waste as they are not producing full carpets on speculation alone. No matter how efficient the process however there will always be surplus yarn after a rug is finished. ‘There are often two or three spools of a certain colour yarn left over after weaving a rug. This is because we make a few extra spools in case we need to redo something during the production process.’ explains Ellinor Eliasson, a designer at Swedish carpet house Kasthall.
‘As long as you think it could work and that anyone would be interested.’ was the affirmative reply I received from Lucy Upward, Editor of COVER Magazine, when asked if she would be willing to be interviewed as part of my series ‘Over Coffee’. ‘We’ll do it over afternoon coffee at Jan Kath’s during ‘A Family Affair’ I replied, ‘I think it has the potential to be quite interesting. It will be a fun exploration of our thoughts, handfulls of people will find it enjoyable. Handfulls!!’ I concluded. ‘Handfuls. At least ten (10)… .’ Lucy replied. And so it was decided that we would sit down and chat while Lucy and I were both in attendance at the second annual ‘A Family Affair’, graciously hosted by Jan Kath, his eponymous firm, and the extended and diverse global Jan Kath family – in both the literal and figurative sense.
‘A lot of films about carpets follow the same narrative.’ begins Janis Provisor as I speak with her via telephone whilst her and co-principal and co-creative director Brad Davis are on a brief visit to New York City. ‘You typically see spinning, carding, weaving, all the usual makings of a carpet, but we wanted to make things more interesting; to create little vignettes.’ Provisor is referring to a series of short films her firm Fort Street Studio recently commissioned to tell a story with few stipulations and no pre-defined narrative. ‘We more or less gave the filmmakers carte blanche only requiring the films be shot on location in our New York Showroom and that they use our painterly and textural carpets as an inspirational design element. Beyond that, we said ‘Do what you want.”
In October 2016 Jan Kath by Kyle and Kath – the New York City showroom of the eponymous brand – presented ‘Boro: The Art of Repurpose’, an innovative presentation of authentic Boro garments paired with the firms like inspired carpet collection as well as the contemporaneous bespoke Boro fashions of Kuon. Spanning the intertwined realms of interiors, history, and fashion the exhibition revives the wisdom of the ages as it were, presenting it as one must, polished and now in high regard.
Although the inagural Istanbul Carpet Week took place almost six (6) months ago the impact and importance of the event has not dwindled with time. In fact, only now in a state of relative calm, removed from the incessant urgency and demands of instantaneous satisfaction imposed upon the media landscape of today can I truthfully and thoughtfully convey the importance of not only this event, but of more events like this in the future. In short, I believe this blend of educational conference, gala celebration, business to business meetings, and cultural and information exchange – something the antique carpet community has long encouraged to various degrees – is key to the long term survivability of our industry.
I have long admired the original Wild Silk carpets of Fort Street Studio, especially the latter day ‘Shag’ incarnation which is the stuff of ‘which decadent dreams are made’. The ‘Shag’ however is not what earned the firm their well deserved accolades, nor is it what motivated Hermès in 2010 to tap Fort Street’s joint Creative Directors Janis Provisor and Brad Davis to create a collection of exceptional wild silk carpets for the then new Hermès Maison collection of luxury home furnishings and accessories. That honour, as well the reputation of the firm more broadly, were brought about by the unbridled passion and synergy of two (2) artists – both partners in life and in business – whose combined vision to create something genuinely unique in the world of rugs achieved the rarest of goals: success!
Serendipity is a ‘fortunate happenstance’ or ‘pleasant surprise’; the term was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were ‘always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.’, at least according to Wikipedia. And so it is quite serendipitous that the vast and mostly borderless internet happened to introduce me to the Ragamuf. What the heck is a ‘Ragamuf’ you ask? Well, let me tell you.
If you were to write an imaginary conversation as an entrée to an article about rugs in a presentation condominium in New York City, where would you begin? Would you pretend to be a client probing for the qualifications of the firm supplying the carpets? Would you marvel at the foresight and planning needed to get custom carpets into a show space? Would you boldly proclaim their carpets to be well suited for, and I’m quoting their marketing material here, ‘…all kinds of clients and spaces; from beautiful residences, lux[ury] yachts, and exotic hideaways to cool offices, boutique hotels and the Swedish Royal Castle.’? Yes, yes you would.
I knew of Hadi Maktabi of Hadi Maktabi Rare Carpets and Antiques long before I met him, though I am not certain how it came to be. Perhaps it was his reputation as someone genuinely and eminently qualified to lecture (in the schooled manner, not the scolding) on the topic of antique Persian carpets, or perhaps it was his embrace of all things modern when it comes to social media, promotion, and brand awareness. Maybe it was the juxtaposition in this forced dichotomy of a man who on one hand promotes himself via Instagram and the like, yet eschews most modern carpet production; I cannot help but wonder his process of deciding what modern things to accept and what to reject. Maybe it is his near zealous obsession with quality and the rare or his love of video games and pop-culture. Regardless of how, it is the latter which brings us to be talking about and with him today.
To show The Ruggist’s support of all of these carpet making peoples we are introducing the social media campaign #rugswithoutborders in order to highlight both the great diversity of rugs and carpets made all over the world and the vibrant cultures from which they come. ‘America (or any country) First’ is a con which fails to realize the interconnected nature of our modern world. While it is true some countries may excel where others may fail, it is our collective diversity which has given us the world in which we live. None of us – The Ruggist included of course – can claim to be omniscient or omnipotent, rather we all contribute as we are able to make this world, our world, a beautiful and vibrant place.
Nothing is better at giving you a glimpse into the persona of a friend than sitting next to them on an intercontinental flight. Shared hopes of our third seat mate not arriving (he did), wondering what culinary delights await on Turkish Airlines, and anticipation of an exciting week of rug and carpet presentations and buying as we both explore Istanbul for the first time, were all topics of idle conversation. As we settled into the flight I opted to ‘watch’ a series of lower concept action adventure and sci-fi movies, whereas Carol – in an ernest effort to truly define ‘binge consumption’ – set out to catch up on the final season of the more high-brow ‘Downton Abbey’; all of it. Ten (10) hours and innumerable disapproving remarks from the Dowager Countess later we arrive in Istanbul to begin our joint adventure in carpets, culture, food, history, camaraderie, and design. Join us now as we discuss the events of the week, Over (Turkish) Coffee in Istanbul.
Welcome to the first installment, of…, err, inaugural ‘Over Coffee’ interview. This is a new freeform feature on The Ruggist where we talk with luminaries, freshmen, legends, and otherwise from the world of rugs. Not necessarily only about rugs and carpets, Over Coffee’s only set premise is in the name. By introducing another more moderate passion of mine – coffee – it is my hope these conversations will be more casual, wide ranging, and interesting than an old school interview. I’m a casual guy, and I’d like to share a bit of that informality with you. So, to start us off I have asked my dear friend Amy Helfand – who is a real friend, not one just in that marketing terminology way. I’ve asked Amy to be my first…interviewee… as we talk at ‘The House of Love’.
In November of 2016 we caught up with John Kurtz, his daughter Erika Kurtz, and Erika’s adorable six-month old daughter Izzy in Patan and Kathmandu in Nepal. Erika – who now runs the business as John is in active retirement – was more than happy to explain and illustrate first hand what constitutes this much touted difference as we all toured the various facilities used to produce New Moon carpets. From initial inspiration to final show presentation, follow along as we examine ‘Camara’ by New Moon which debuts during DOMOTEX in Hannover, Germany the 14-17 January 2017.
The Carpet Design Awards recognize annually the best in handmade carpet design and are, to quote, ‘a coveted international badge of excellence in quality of execution and uniqueness of design for modern hand-made carpets.’ As with any design competition however there are caveats. For instance, entrants and thus winners – with the exception of those in the ‘Best Studio Artist Design’ – must be exhibitors at DOMOTEX which obviously restricts the pool of eligible carpets. As such, it is best to think not of the Carpet Design Awards as ‘the world’s best’, but rather think of them as one would of cinema, with the Carpet Design Awards as the DOMOTEX equivalent of an Official Selection during Cannes. Similarly just as movie critics will critique with superior air, so too must those who judge rugs chime in on what is – in their opinion – hot, hot, hot.
Joseph Carini Carpets hosted the debut United States exhibition of ceramic works by Japanese artist Yuki Hayama from 9 September through 29 September 2016 at Mr. Carini’s eponymous TriBeCa carpet showroom. The showroom served not as mere gallery to the magnificently detailed work of Mr. Hayama, but rather as a veritable collaborative studio in which hard – in the form of ceramics – was juxtaposed against soft – in the form of the carpets Joseph Carini designed after being inspired by Mr. Hayama’s work. A visual delight where the contrast of two (2) disparate artistic endeavours begs the viewer to delve deeper into the notion of creativity, inspiration, and a true understanding of craft.