|Ikat Design Area Rug - Siam By Nourison|
The area rug can be a room’s focal point, organize furnishings, add warmth and baffle sound.
|Botanical rug adds color, becomes a focal pint and adds warmth to your room|
BY ELAINE MARKOUTSAS
Carpet diem! Area rugs are seizing the day when it comes to dialing up personality in a room. And that goes for indoors and outdoors.
From flat weaves to bas relief, which adds sculptural dimension, it’s modern design that especially stands out, in an impressive range of prismatic colors, stylish patterns and tantalizing textures, many of which are obviously informed by fashion. And while some motifs like circles or squares or chevrons may be familiar, even vintage references are re-framed in an unexpected bold palette, scale or placement so that they look fresh.
The area rug long has played a pivotal role in interior design. It can be a focal point, much like a piece of art on the wall. It serves to ground a space, organize furnishings, add warmth and baffle sound.
For some designers, a rug sets the tone for a room, launching its color scheme — even one that’s monochromatic, which is best expressed by nuances with shades and textures.
But placing a rug in a room requires visualization. This is why retailer websites often show how color and pattern look underfoot and totally change the dynamic in a space. New York artist Madeline Weinrib told San Francisco writer Diane Dorrans Saeks that she had to rethink technique when she began to design rugs 12 years ago.
“I trained myself to see from the floor as opposed to the wall and realized that (a rug) had to exist in dialogue with the decor in the room, that it would have furniture placed on it,” says Weinrib, whose textiles and rugs are sold at ABC Carpet and Home and through her new showroom in Manhattan. “In painting, it’s a world of its own. That’s not true for rugs, which are part of the decor and must be functional.”
|Transitional style rug made in Tibet|
But in recent years, rug design really has exploded. Fashion, interior and lifestyle designers have added cache with collections that have an instant fandom for those who embrace their particular aesthetic. Technology has boosted methodology, allowing the equivalent of performance fabrics as well as digital printing.
Still, as in the past, it’s the materials and weave that enable so much variation. Sheep or goat wool from Iran, Turkey or New Zealand or cotton from India will vary in thickness and pile depending on how the weft threads are woven across the warp or foundation, whether the pile is sheered, tufted or looped. Some wools are more coarse, so the result is more rustic. Wool or cotton flat weaves without pile such
Besides weaves, it’s application of color that lends character. The most coveted antiques are appreciated for their natural dyes, from plants like madder (red), indigo (blue), walnut (brown and gray) and rhubarb (yellow). Today’s fashion-forward hues include deep pinks and raspberries, magenta, tangerine and greens, from kiwi to emerald.
Intentional shading also has added another level of sophistication, with striations that look like worn or wrinkled areas becoming part of the pattern, for example. Another effect called “ombre,” from the French word for “shaded,” features gradations from light to dark, often expressed in a single hue, but the fading effect also can apply to multiple colors. Paint techniques also can be replicated, such as sponged or watercolor prints seen in couture.
Another appealing genre is one that features vintage pieces of traditional Oriental rugs stitched together in a patchwork design, then “overdyed,” usually in rich jewel tones. What’s cool is that the original patterns peek through.
One Turkish-based rug wholesaler, Knotisse, celebrates green by rescuing old kelims from the 1920s to the 1980s, unraveling them piece by piece, then reweaving the yarn in very modern designs and colors. Owner Burak Aydogan calls it “upcycling.”
|Over-dyed Patchwork Kilim Area Rug - Re-purposing perfected!|
Santa Fe, N.M.-based manufacturer Foreign Accents recycles denim from blue jeans, silk saris and men’s ties, bits of sweaters and even bicycle inner tubes for its Deja New collection.
“The very idea of repurposing is compelling,” says Brian Rojanasumaphong, sales manager and buyer at Chicago retailer Oscar Isberian Rugs. “We live in a time where we’re cognizant of the impact we have on the environment. Anything we can do to reuse and repurpose resonates. When you reference the past there’s an almost spiritual connection.”
And romance. Some manufacturers are recreating vintage with new pieces washed and treated to look worn. The idea is analogous to roughed-up or stonewashed jeans, to instantly age them for a desirable patina.
No surprise then that there’s plenty of inspiration from women’s fashions, from hot colors to patterns.
“We love fashion,” says Chris Chapin, co-founder of the Concord, N.H.-based Company C. “So we often keep an eye on the latest in couture. We don’t recommend designing one’s entire home based on the latest fashion trends, but it is fun to sprinkle into our seasonal colors and designs fabulous influences from the runway.”
Large-scale florals and leafy designs echo the popularity of motifs from nature. Animal prints are especially fetching in fun combos such as azalea and green cheetah (from Company C), or a blue green jaguar from Suzanne Kasler for Safavieh. There are plenty of global and ethnic influences: supersized scrolls and paisleys, fretwork and Greek keys, lattice and Moroccan tile motifs.
But there’s also a practical plus for rugs.
“Rugs add so much to a room’s design,” says Chapin. “One of my favorite (things to do) is to stretch out on our rug after a run. Bare floors would not be as comfortable!”
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