Issue Date: 2017 APRIL, Posted On: 4/4/2017

04042017 U.S. Hospitality Sector Turns to Rugs on Heels of Europe's Lead
By Lisa Vincenti

Layers of Persian rugs from ABC Carpet & Home adorn the lobby lounge of the Beekman Hotel in NYC, recently transformed by Martin Brudnizki, one of the industry's most sought-after interior designers.

LOS ANGELES -- As more hotel properties begin specifying area rugs for their interiors, the hospitality industry presents a new opportunity for both area rug makers and designer showrooms. In this special report for The Rug Show Los Angeles' spring 2017 magazine, RugNews.com talks with top hospitality designers and rug show exhibitors who've made this segment a priority.


In European design annals the use of area rugs in luxe hotel settings isn't new. However the history of area rugs in American hotel rooms is not as lengthy. But as more hospitality developers begin to opt for hardwood flooring, even in the guest rooms, U.S. hotel developers are hoping to make a bold statement -- and they aren't shying away from area rugs anymore. 
Officially opened in August 2016, the Beekman in NYC designed by Martin Brudnizki goes all out with Oriental carpets in the registration lobby (above) and upholstered to the reception desk for luxe old world ambience (below). 
One of the most buzzed about hotel openings of 2016, and possibly of the decade, The Beekman Hotel in Manhattan's Financial District, uses rugs to lavish excess. Designed by Swedish-born star designer Martin Brudnizki of Brudnizki Design Studio, the hotel features a spectacular nine-story atrium, transformed from the abandoned 130-year old skyscraper known as Temple Court.
Brudnizki, with offices in London and New York, had no qualms about selecting area rugs for the building's lobby. Not only are multiple Oriental rugs supplied by ABC Carpet & Home layered in the lobby lounge, but the renowned designer even upholstered the reception desk in classic Persian carpets. What's more, brilliantly colored overdyed rugs adorn guest rooms and suites in all 10 hotel floors of The Beekman, an inviting contrast to wide plank distressed oak floors.
Vivid overdyed rugs supplied by ABC Carpet & Home are used in all 287 guest rooms and suites at the Beekman, once known as the Temple Court Building, which opened in 1883. 

A few years earlier, another European, French designer Jacques Garcia was commissioned to create the interiors for New York City's chic NoMad Hotel housed in a turn of the century Beaux-Arts building. At that time, he did something quite unexpected in the U.S. hospitality sector: Garcia selected rich antique Heriz area rugs not only for the property's public lounges but for its 168 guest rooms as well, to create a richly textured, classic Parisian style. 
Jacques Garcia turns heads with antique Heriz rugs specified for the public lounge at the Beaux-Arts NoMad Hotel in Manhattan.
The result was a luxurious New York hotel at the forefront of hospitality design. And NoMad, which is opening a Los Angeles outpost later this year, anticipates that designer Garcia will once again use area rugs throughout.
Now hospitality industry players, even the industry's largest brands such as Hilton or Marriott, are beginning to use area rugs in their designs. While these larger chains may specify custom rugs manufactured overseas or select a programmed style from hospitality vendors, boutique hotels are increasingly turning to residential area rug importers and manufacturers for pieces that offer an unexpected, posh finishing touch to public spaces and guest rooms.
Parisian-style guest rooms of New York City's NoMad Hotel feature antique Persian carpets.
The Rug Show Los Angeles exhibitors Ayka Designs, Zollanvari and Creative Touch have all been featured in overseas boutique hotels. Still, connecting property interior designers with high-end American rug manufacturers has been a slow process, as many hospitality interior designers might not have strong connections to traditional area rug vendors, notes Ayka Design founder Michelle K. Evans, who is also a hospitality designer.
Zollanvari shows its hospitality carpet design range from the lavish Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois hotel's Cheval Blanc restaurant (above), to the Schloss Elmau Grand Resort in Bavaria's welcoming guest rooms (below).
"There is something you can see in a higher-end rug and a handmade rug -- it has a higher vibration of care and quality," says Christiane Millinger of her eponymous rug gallery in Portland, Oregon. "There is something more esoteric about well-crafted rugs that people can see and feel. We are trained to notice these things and people that go to discerning hotels know and expect this."
Millinger, who founded her area rug showroom in 2000, has been in the business for 30 years and she actively courts hotel groups. She recently invited executives from the Ace Hotel Group, a chain of 10 hip hotels based in Portland, to peruse her stacks. 
"They are design leaders with an innovative hotel approach and they are very excited by cutting-edge looks and integrating more high-end product into their Ace properties," Millinger notes. She said the Ace executives shared an experience from their New York location, which features a trendy area rug in the lobby, which they replace annually. Initially, they weren't familiar with what to look for to ensure the rug would stand the test of time, but they are continuing to learn about and experiment with rugs.
"The Ace Hotel designers like area rugs because they add an additional sense of style, they help with noise and they creates a sense of elevated beauty."
"We often start with an area rug concept and build the design from there," says Danielle Fox, principal designer with design studio Rodrigo Vargas Design. The Los Angeles-based practice has carved a niche for itself in the upscale five-star hotel segment and counts among its works the St. Regis, Monarch Beach, California, the Hyatt Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and the US Grant in San Diego. "I've never gone to a rug show, but it sounds interesting. Area rugs and carpets are the key to our design process."
Portland, Oregon-based hospitality designer James Staicoff of Staicoff Design is planning an important rug installation his firm will complete next year.  "We are doing a hotel that will open in 2018 called the Woodlark in Portland, and we are putting in real wood floors and using area rugs in those rooms to define space, add a sense of intimacy and give a little more of a high-end finish."
"The Woodlark is the first time I have used real wood in the guest rooms; adding area rugs will offer another element of luxury -- we want something innovative and unique," Staicoff explains.
However, American hospitality budgets are extremely cost sensitive and the efforts of American area rug vendors to make it into hotel suites is further hampered by the focus on cost, Mellinger adds. 
That said, hospitality properties will judicially add area rugs to a design to create a unique ambiance. Mellinger sold a Fire and Ice rug by Wool & Silk to Staicoff Design Group for a lobby installation at the Modera Hotel in Portland.  
Wool and Silk's Fire and Ice rug graces the lobby of Portland's Modera Hotel designed by Staicoff Design Group.  ]
"We design luxury hotels; we always use super high-end rugs because we do high-end boutiques and they want a luxurious look, explains James Staicoff. In Portland we have some major showrooms such as Christiane Mellinger, Tufenkian, and Lapchi. While you might find something you like on line, it is important to feel the hand. And in terms of feeling the rug, there is no way of getting around it than but by seeing it in person."
"If a hotel wants to offer guests a boutique experience and to give the hotel a high-end look, quality area rugs are something people will look at," points out Sanjay Purohit, CEO of Zollanvari U.S.A. 
That sentiment also echoed by Ned Baker of Tamarian Carpets, whose carpets have been used in various settings including corporate offices, restaurants and fine hotels and resorts. "As more people all over the world seek sanctuary in high-end, boutique hotels, area rugs become the kind of distinct detail that can help set a hotel apart from competitors and also allow each to convey a unique style."
A Tamarian Carpet's Slice area rug graces a reception area  at the Palisades.
Yet, things appear to be shifting. "In the past, area rugs have typically been for high-end properties, but with all of the different construction types emerging today, we see area rugs and use them in all levels of properties," says Amanda Jackson, Senior Designer with ForrestPerkins in Washington, D.C. "I have been using area rugs throughout my career, but unlike in the past, we are seeing area rugs move into guest rooms more, even in some mid-level properties. We are also using carpet tiles to create area rigs. Plus, we are seeing more layering of area rugs within public spaces and the use of antique rugs or rugs that appear to be antique."
Jackson absolutely sees a place for high-end area rugs in hospitality settings, though she expects them to be mostly used in the public spaces, unless budget allows for their use in guest rooms.
Although connecting high-end rug makers to hospitality designers is still the biggest stumbling block, educated and proactive showrooms and dealers seem to be the most important influencers in getting area rugs specified in a project.
"As designers we want to be more unique in our styles that we present to the clients so we look for the less obvious companies, new upcoming companies and we always look for that edge and WOW factor to set us apart from other interior designers," Evans noted.
Hospitality designer and founder of rug company Ayka Design, Michelle Evans uses area rugs to dramatic effect in the Hyatt Regency New Delhi.

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