In the 1999 film ‘Dogma’ Salma Hayek plays ‘Serendipity’. Not simply a woman whose name happens to be Serendipity, but rather she plays the physical embodiment of serendipity itself, which is to say she is the ‘chance’ which brings about the occurrence and development of events in a happy or beneficial way. Except of course, there is no chance. While those without divinity perceive their interactions as random, or due to fate, or karma, or what have you, from the perspective of Serendipity, it is her will which causes events to happen as they do; for her the future is not fully unknown nor fully manifest rather its exists as any one of an endless number of permutations based upon her direct actions. In many ways the creation and success of a supposedly new rug or carpet design is a result of serendipity with the artist or designer creating something perceived as new as a result of the careful and equally serendipitous or Serendipitous work of those who have come before.
It is worthy of note that throughout the entirety of The Ruggist you will find no small degree of exaggeration, hyperbole, and irreverence. It’s who I am, it’s how I write, it’s how I see the world. Black, but not just any black. The most perfect black of which you can think. Soot from a freshly cleaned chimney black; matte with no discernible texture, as though you’re staring into a void. Vantablack® – Can this be applied to yarn? I wonder… . That kind of black. And then of course to the far other extreme, a white of no less than equal splendour, pure, but not devoid of all hue. Perhaps the Benjamin Moore named colour: Grand Teton White, if only because it reminds me of my fourteen year old self giggling at the name while basking in the very same majesty that first greeted those French explorers. Each colour – no less special than the other – vying, clamouring to be recognized as the best, the most authentic, the singular whatever it is.
In speaking with UK Heritage Rugs’ Principal Brian Sales during Domotex it was apparent his passion, no, his calling, no, his mandate was not to be euphemistically inspired by the work of others – as is the purported case of so many who knock-off the work of others, but rather it was to honour the originals. By working closely with the curators who oversee the works his firm licenses Sales was able to ensure – as best possible given no-one involved created the originals – the carpets present the artwork in a manner befitting the originals’ museum quality status, however the reader prefers to interpret that. Without hesitation Sales has succeeded in this regard, though whether or not the firm’s carpets themselves are ‘museum quality’ is an academic question left for the reader and future curators.
There are no shortages when it comes to the amazing breadth of designs available in modern carpets. From solid colour, to simple geometrics, the florals, flowers, and the abstract, to intricate layered designs, the painterly, and photorealistic, the contemporary well informed carpet consumer does not want for selection or options. And that is solely in reference to readymade carpets, not mentioning those that are made-to-order or bespoke.
A wise man would have been prescient enough to have completed this article in time to have published on 2 February 2016, and then, à la façon the wonderfully annoying film ‘Groundhog’s Day’ further belaboured you with yet another long winded diatribe in support of copyright via a now second mention of that film. ‘We won’t find out until we grow…’ to quote that film’s use of the iconic song ‘I Got You babe’. Discussion of my relative wisdom notwithstanding, such an opportunistic article was not meant to be for a great conundrum had beleaguered me since shortly after the publication of my last missive on copyright in the rug and carpet industry entitled ‘No Euphemisms, It’s a Knockoff!’ Only in recent weeks has an acceptable solution presented itself and so, without further adieu, I offer a footnote of sorts on copyright in general, and of course what that means to the rug industry. Apologies in advance for the somewhat tedious and essay like nature of this article; I trust those of you who care about more than just to paying lip service to copyright will find it most intriguing. Enjoy!
It’s frustratingly cliché, but it’s the rug industry. The later half of that sentence has been uttered innumerable times as justification of some archaic practice that while remaining perfectly entrenched in the rug industry is not quite at home in our current times. Some are egregiously out of touch, others quaint and endearing. It is, after all, the rug industry and we must accept it for what it is or so goes the conventional wisdom. The problems – seemingly infinite as they might be – occur when convention, tradition, and ‘because that is the way we’ve always done it’ meet the modern legal structure in which we have chosen to live. As previously discussed in nauseating detail and considerable length (both on The Ruggist and in COVER) the issue of Copyright in the rug industry is not the simple black or white issue many would have you believe. Even if it were black and white (or is that white and black?), which hue of black and which hue of white are we discussing exactly? So many possibilities that we shan’t touch upon today; the position of The Ruggist is clear: Do not copy. Copy being – of course – a heavily nuanced word. It is however, the complete and utter lack of nuance that once again brings the issue of Copyright back to this electronic page.
As I have already beaten the Copyright horse to its near death I will not belabour the point too much today, and in fact I only mention it again as I received the lamest of emails imaginable. Whether the author of the email is authentic in her intent, or is merely on a fishing expedition (for The Rug Company or otherwise) to see if I will name names and offer suggestions is not of any consequence to my response. Here is her email followed by my public reply: she did not get a private reply.
A valued reader and nouveau friend recently brought to my attention that my last article on copyright had a certain ‘Groundhog’s Day’- esque nature to it. For those of you not in the know, ‘Groundhog’s Day’ is a wonderful (and nostalgic for me: I’ve been to Punxsutawney!!) movie staring Bill Murray that explores the meaning of life through the ad nauseum repeated reliving of one day. In the end Bill Murray’s character comes to some dramatic life altering realizations, but not of course before having some fun; it is a comedy after all. But I digress. When I first read his email I thought ‘Who the hell is he calling repetitive?’ but before I could type a response in so many words, my brain had already begun to contemplate what he was saying. I quickly came to realize the point my astute reader was attempting to make is that ‘Copyright This!’ and ‘Copyright this! Again?’ are strikingly similar, and though this was not intentional it seems only appropriate that a serialized article on knockoffs and copyright would reduce itself to such a state. After all, the nuances of copyright are nearly without bounds and the subtleties are enough to make you want to smash your head between a door and door jam – repeatedly, ad nauseum, like that movie. In the end we just end up talking (at painful length) about the various permutations of what is the very short version of the issue of copyright (in the rug industry): Talented (or otherwise) people create great carpets which in turn are made by others whom we shall call greedy and lazy, which I’ve said already; again, like that movie. It’s as though I am making this intentionally repetitive at this point. No? It’s as though I am making this intentionally repetitive at this point. Oh wait….
Perhaps it best to begin where the prologue that was my last article left off. As you will recall, I introduced the topic of copyright, and specifically asked: ‘What happens when one manufacturer impersonates the style and aesthetic of another?’ The short answer is found in the article I wrote for the Winter 2013 Issue of COVER magazine (along with Ben Evans and Jessica Franses – Full Disclosure: I was paid for the article.): A knockoff is copying – theft – and it is wrong. My opinion on flagrant and blatant copying is clear, but there are of course an endless myriad of permutations between copying and – to the other extreme – the unattainable ideal of pure original creation, and it is the discussion of this spectrum that is integral to the topic at hand.