Make Rugs Not War - Carpets as Art, A Review - Jan Kath - The Ruggist

‘Make Rugs Not War’ | Carpets as Art!

As quintessence of the notion of rugs as art, 'Make Rugs Not War' delivers ample imbued commentary, as art must.

Calling as art the vast majority of rugs and carpets made today is intellectually dishonest and in truth no different than calling mass produced paintings from China that have ‘just the right hint of blue that ties the room together’ art as well. There are of course rare exceptions but in a world driven by design and trends, precious few carpets elevate themselves above the fray into the exalted world of art, or perhaps to best distinguish: Art! This is unquestionably a subjective opinion, one anyone is free to question or challenge, yet to accept broadly rugs and carpets as art is to invite inclusion of many a pastiche object just as it is to delegitimize the work of practicing artists, formally trained, folk, or otherwise. The ensemble of carpets which comprise ‘Make Rugs Not War’ specifically challenge the status quo, and thus, like ‘Pearls’ Passage’ by Viron Erol Vert, transcend decorative art into Art, utilizing the carpet not just as rug, but as medium upon which commentary is imbued. With that, what is it then that Jan Kath is saying via ‘Make Rugs Not War?’

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The 'Plush Solid' quality of carpet by Sambhav shown in colour Royal Blue, as seen during Domotex 2019. | Photograph by The Ruggist.

Plush Solid | Sambhav

Technicalities aside, attraction is still governed by emotion and 'Plush Solid' conjures many.

‘Your eyes may not intentionally deceive, but they do not reveal the tactile nature of carpets.’ – From a purely objective viewpoint one could rightly argue that in 2019 there is little reason to make a solid, that is to say, a single colour handknotted rug or carpet. As many other techniques – broadloom and handloom as two examples – can readily satisfy the visual requirements in order to complete the look at a fraction of the price, the expense of handknotted simply doesn’t fit the technocratic bill. Great design however is never solely governed by technicalities, rather it is a melange of fact and the seemingly irrational nature of attraction, pleasure, desire, and countless other emotions. Thus subjectively, the ‘technical’ look if you will, pales in comparison to the touch, the tactile sensations, the haptics of the particularly sumptuous and decadent ‘Plush Solid’ by Sambhav. 

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Tapisserie Ras El Hanout, the Ras el Hanout Tapestry designed by Pierre Marie, made by Manufacture Robert Four in Aubusson, France. | Photograph courtesy of Pierre Marie.

Ras El Hanout | Pierre Marie

Exploring the métier vieux of Aubusson-stitch tapestry made modern by Pierre Marie in collaboration with Manufacture Robert Four.

Pierre Marie was born in Nogent-Sur-Marne and as the child of ‘slightly hippie parents’ experienced a happy childhood filled with a passion for Disney animated films and ’an early enduring attraction to colour.’ Now as an accomplished designer in his early late thirties, he has prestigious collaborations with French brands such as Hermes and dyptique within his portfolio, or perhaps more accurately, oeuvre. He sees himself as an ‘artist-ornamentalist,’ that is it say, as Pierre Marie does, he is ‘Someone that has the talent and the knowledge to decorate any surface with a story, a pattern, a frieze. I would just say that some media are more hungry for drawing than others. And textile is definitely one of them.’

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'Point Carré' from the 'Infinity Collection' by Sarawagi Rugs. Designed by Else Bozec, handmade in Kathmandu, Nepal. | Photograph by The Ruggist.

Infinity Collection | Sarawagi Rugs

Geometry reigns as structure and design combine in captivating form.

As an admitted fanatic of geometric designs, my bias toward the new ‘Infinity Collection’ by Sarawagi Rugs is self-evident. Designed by textile designer Else Bozec over the course of a months long residency in Kathmandu, Nepal during 2017 C.E. the collection reminds design need not push the technical limits of technique, but rather can excel by masterfully utilizing those limits – in this case the regimented structure of handknotting – to synergistically reïnforce and amplify the design. The varied visual and tactile textures embody the same lively visage of urban façades, with each region inviting new though and contemplation to almost ask – as one would of said façades – ‘What’s going on (in) here?’ I don’t know, but I am captivated while I try and figure it out.

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A stack of folded Iranian flatweaves as seen at Edelgrund during Domotex 2019 | Photograph by The Ruggist.

Look Deeper | Edelgrund

A teasing glimpse of design reminds to look beyond the surface.

Just the most iconic representation of a rug or carpet merchant I can imagine: a simple pile of rugs, this one from Edelgrund. In actuality though it is hardly simple and it represents uncounted manhours of labour; a pile, or stack, of rugs hides so much, only teasing at the beauty within. Perhaps instead of passing quick judgement or critiquing without contemplative thought consider looking deeper in order to reveal more of the details. Rugs and carpets aren’t mere embellishments for the floor, they also serve as allegory for many of our worldly problems. Enjoy the week my friends! What are you doing?

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