Foot traffic: Handmade looks, contemporary takes on traditional designs draw clients to today’s carpets
Published 12:00 am, Saturday, March 18, 2017
Rugs have come a long way from the nomads who created them centuries ago and then schlepped them around so the next place they settled might feel a little more like home.
Whether knotted or woven, created by hand or through automation, rugs long have served pedestrian purposes, all the while earning artistic and decorative merit over the years. It is why Stark, a 75-year manufacturer of carpets, rugs, fabrics and furnishings, boasts thousands of designs of rugs and wall-to-wall carpets.
Priscilla Cronin is of the mind, somewhat understandably, that what you put on your floor is as important as the furnishings you choose, the fabrics you select and the colors you paint your walls.
“There are two schools of thought,” says Cronin, showroom manager at Stamford’s Stark Home showroom, which has distinct areas for the public and the trade. “You start from the floor up or you pick your fabrics first and then worry about the carpet. “
She usually starts with the rug and work her way up. “If I love a rug, I can do anything because it is really a canvas, if you think of it that way. It is like finding a piece of artwork that you fall in love with … and some people do the whole room around it.”
So what kind of canvases are people reaching for these days? On a recent morning, Cronin pointed out some of the woven art that has most caught her customers’ eyes.
“The handmade look is the hottest thing right now,” Cronin says. “It has the look and feel of a handmade run,” but with less cost — sometimes as much as half the price.
Stark recently expanded its collection of handcrafted broadloom, which is handwoven on a loom and hand-finished (the edges are sewn). They differ from handmade carpets, which are created by an artisan who hand knots thousands of stitches to make up a carpet. Such time and expertise adds to the cost.
Cronin also points to another top seller, a print known as Bindi, a kind of muted snakeskin pattern. “It came in about five years ago, and they couldn’t make enough of these rugs,” she says. “No two designs are alike because it is the weavers’ interpretation. They know what the design is, but one row or two rows might be different from another.”
As in other areas of interior design, texture and color have become sought-after elements in residential schemes, though Cronin says such elements have always been there to some degree.
Years ago, she says everyone was into gray and the market responded accordingly. “Do I think that trend is on the way out? I have no idea, but I do think colors are on their way in. Generally, what I have noticed is that more color is photographed and put into design magazines or ‘Architectural Digest’ or local magazines, whenever they show spaces with a lot of color in them; people feel comfortable once they see it,” Cronin says. “They feel comfortable having it in their own space.”
Oriental and Persian rugs have a long history, and often families inherit masterpieces passed down through the generations. Cronin says while the craftsmanship is a boon, the colors and designs can be a bane to modern design schemes. “You have these old-style rugs, with these old colors … and you will get clients who come in here … and want to do something special with it, but they have all those oranges, reds, blues and burgundies, all these deep dark colors that are traditional, but challenging for the designer to incorporate. That is where I would say layering might come in. They might have a couple of small traditional rugs that they put on top of the sisal, which is the larger piece. The layering is around the settee or wherever they put the furniture. If it is a large room, you can do that.”
If you don’t have that luxury of lots of space, Stark has created a more modern Persian style. These recast designs and colors, in wool and silk (hand knotted in India), are meant to work for the modern interior.
And for those who think animal prints have gone the way of the 1970s, Stark’s collection has plenty of fans, particularly its antelope ax and antilocapra designs (you can see the latter, in brass, on the stairs that lead to the showroom).
“It takes a special person to go with animal,” says Cronin, who utilizes antilocarpa in her own home design. “With an animal print, you can throw so much color at it because it can stand color ... and unbelievable prints on your fabrics.”
For those who fear the appeal for wood floors have cut into wall-to-wall looks, Cronin says no worries. Wall-to-wall remains popular, mostly for the bedroom and rooms that are not necessarily showpieces, such as a family room. People still want to kick off their shoes, or if you are a bit more civilized, slip off your shoes, and sink those feet into plush pile.
They want to feel like they are home.