|DOMOTEX 2017 CELEBRATES THE BEST AND THE NEW IN RUGS WORLDWIDE
Color unabashedly returns to the global array of rugs on show at Domotex 2017, with designers reveling in unrelenting brights as well as full-bodied pastels.
HANNOVER, Germany -- Domotex 2017 lived up to its reputation as a dazzling celebration of the best and the new in world carpets. The range and variety of rugs on display offered quality products for every level of the market.
This is the year when color has unabashedly returned from exile. The age of silver washes is fast-fading, and neutrals have lost their dominance. A number of designers like Rug Star's Jurgen Dahlmanns and Fritz Langauer of Oritop hit heavy with unrelentingly evocative colors. Jaipur and Sambhav brought deep tones to complement their lighter ranges. Others like Erbil Tezcan of Wool & Silk and Ketenci reveled in full-bodied pastels.
Even Moroccan carpets, which have always carried so much power with their black on white motifs, are coming in washes of rich magentas and other unexpected shades.
Kilims were everywhere, brandishing their colors exuberantly. Kirkit provided a knockout in seven shades of red by designer Florence Bourel. Brothers Ali and Reza Lotfi of Edelgrund took home a Carpet Design Award for their evocative interweaving of black and white to frame a moody red center. Afghan producers supplied a fresh take on their brilliantly orange, yellow and red traditional kilims woven in inventive new patterns full of zest.
French designer Florence Bourel with her Carpet Design Awards finalist rug from the Dalga Kilims Collection for Istanbul's Kirkit.
Interestingly, anyone looking for the traditional designs that defined oriental carpets for centuries did well to head for Oriental Weavers. Their exquisite machine-made carpets maintain the rich weaving history of the Persians, the Moghuls, the Ottomans and the Mamluks. The impressive Pharonic showrooms of this Egyptian-headquartered firm were among the largest and busiest at Domotex. Yasmine Khamis, Oriental Weaver's Senior Vice President, took time out from back-to-back meetings to show some of the latest in the traditional sector.
"We work very hard to replicate the quality of the originals," she told RugNews.com. "Through our production methods we can make rugs of great beauty affordable for the many people who want them."
Yasmine Khamis, Senior Vice President and Andy Brumlow, VP for Product Development, stand in front of one of Khamis' favorites from the Oriental Weavers Royal Tapis collection.
The one notable exception to the color revival this year was in Scandinavian-inspired kilims. Nordic designs from the 1960's have been reinterpreted to create a whole new genre. One offering from New York's Rug & Kilim boldly combines a range of winter tones in multiple textures and went on to earn a Carpet Design Award for Best Flatweave Design in the 2017 competition.
R&K won the Carpet Design Award for best original rug design demonstrating the flatweave technique, a new category for 2017.
Design trailblazer Alex Ahmadi of Ariana Rugs took note of the change that was in the air. He stated that he is about to design a collection that he says will "give us a totally new look for the next 10 years." Meanwhile the varied range he had on show was like a retrospective of his prodigious imagination over recent years. From the almost-traditional to the borderless repetitive patterns he introduced a while back, it was an impressive mix of styles and colors. Asked where his imagination is taking him, he said simply, "I do not want my carpets to look like anybody else's."
Alex Ahmadi of Ariana Rugs stands in front of his Carpet Design Awards entry Barchi (above), a nod to the neighborhood that serves as his base of operations in Kabul, Afghanistan. Below, admirers of the finely woven pale ivories for which Ariana is known.
Carol Sebert of Creative Matters proudly showed off one of the designs her firm has produced for the Canadian embassy in Brussels, one of five embassies for which she has had carpets commissioned to celebrate Canada's 150 years as a nation. Frost-like images from the North Country are set against an arctic sky that is that is startlingly blue in totally dramatic effect.
This knockout by Creative Matters is headed to the Canadian embassy in Brussels.
Jurgen Dahlmanns' carpets for Rug Star are so intense in their coloration they hung like calls to action. In his signature piece, giant koi swim down from the rafters in sparkling pools as aquatic plants in delicate greens and oranges float around them. In some of his other carpets, bright vines based on traditional Persian patterns jump out of flat, contrasting backgrounds.
"My collection is a reflection on my life," Dahlmanns stated. "I don't look for trends. What I want is for the people who see my rugs to feel the emotions I was experiencing when I made it. I studied political science and architecture, but I have learned so much more from making these carpets. I want to connect with people. My carpets are like a language."
Jurgen Dahlmanns of Rug Star discusses techniques to create his intricately carved new designs.
Rug Star introduces the Don't Be Coy rug and modern adaptations of traditional Persian designs at Domotex.
Jaipur Living welcomed full colors in its Unstring collection that dispersed a diverse palette broad brush against canvas-like backgrounds in a way that was almost translucent. Meanwhile their Free Verse collection uses wool and silk to reflect on the carpet traditions of the past by gathering fragments and presenting them in a new way.
Both collections have been designed by Kavita Chaudhary who went out of her way this year to salute the women and men who craft the carpets. "Our carpets are about the people who make them," she said.
Kavita Chaudhary says that all the collections shown by Jaipur have their meaning rooted in the lifestyles of those who make them. Above she shows Free Verse in a new on trend saffron; below is Unstring, the 2017 Carpet Design Awards' Best Modern Collection.
New Moon's varied offerings glanced back at the grays and ice blues of past years but strode unhesitatingly into strong earth tones and sand colors for its appropriately titled collection, Terra. Erika Kurtz brought her new daughter Isabel to demonstrate the child friendly environment her family's carpets create.
Erika Kurtz of New Moon introduces her daughter Isabel to Domotex.
A sampling of New Moon's Terra collection.
A CLASSIC REVIVAL
Sertac Cakim of Boston-based Landry & Arcari relished the look of Ketenci Rugs' innovative collection of spring tones by Istanbul designer Yesim Ketenci, which offered optimism along with superb craftsmanship of natural fibers. He found his place to hang out in the booth shared by Erbil Tezcan of Wool & Silk and Nikhil Kapoor of Tissage.
Sertac Cakim of Boston's Landry & Arcari rests on a stack of carpets at the Wool & Silk Domotex space.
"Turkish carpets are coming back," Cakim said, as he stroked one of Tezcan's pieces. "Just feel this," he suggests. "You can buy a carpet from many other places just by looking at a photo. But these, you have to experience them in person to see that there is another whole dimension to them." Indeed, Wool & Silk received the 2017 Carpet Design Award in the best modern design deluxe category for its Summit rug, an intricate composition in a vivid pastel palette.
Erbil Tezcan's Summit attracted the attention of Lisa Slappey of Houston's Pride of Persia and Postmodern Traditions carpet stores.
Ugur Uysal, chairman of the Istanbul Carpet Exporters Association, echoed Sertac Cakim, noting that some 175 Turkish carpet producers were spread out over 18,000 square meters of exhibition space at the fair. With strong support from the Turkish government, the Turkey, Discover the Potential promotion took over most of Hall 16.
While several dealers were offering the patchwork carpets that Turkey has made famous in recent years, others were showing off traditional hand-knotted carpets and kilims that are experiencing a resurgence in Turkey.
"We are the largest single group in Domotex," Uysal reported proudly. "The carpet sector in Turkey is strong," he stated despite the recent problems his country has been facing. "The United States is very quickly becoming our largest market, which Saudi Arabia has been until recently."
Ugur Uysal says the development of carpets printed on polyester will create a whole new market for Turkish products.
Afghanistan's Export Promotion Agency selected nine top Afghan carpet producers to represent the burgeoning Afghan carpet industry in a special promotion. Leaving trends for others, they brought high quality samples of the kinds of rugs that have sold well over the years and continue to find customers who love their quality and warmhearted designs. Haji M. Nabi of Zinnat Carpets and Hashmat Haider of the Atlas Group both reported getting numerous orders from customers from several countries.
The Afghanistan special promotion area at Domotex 2017.
They were joined by other Afghans like Hamburg-based Sattar Carpets in displaying a rich range of carpets that are perennial favorites. Haji Abdul Sattar noted that he has regular customers that have been searching him out at Domotex for years to see his rugs.
Haji Abdul Sattar standing with one of his carpets produced in Afghanistan.
Max Moussavi joyfully hung a carpet at the entrance to of Art Resources' display area that he calls 'Angels' to trumpet the Los Angeles-based company's firm embrace of the new age of color, even as powerful near monochromatics were offered inside. But it was the Angels with their bold exuberance catching the eye of all passing by and capturing the spirit of this Domotex.
Max Moussavi enjoys the company of his Angels at the Art Resources booth at Domotex 2017.
Kumarsambhav (Sambhav) Sawansukha introduced a striking collection of big colors for his Sambhav line. They covered a wide range, with several designs delicately etched by iron oxide washes to bring out patterns that echo the great design traditions of the past. Sambhav's more vibrant pieces complement the company's softer-hued carpets and Nordic white kilims.
Mentor Michael George, well known for his years at ABC Carpets in New York and his development of the Nine Nine weaving technique, has been guiding Sambhav since 2013, the two having met the year before. Both state their coming together has been fortuitous. Sambhav has the passion and Michael George the industry know-how to launch a brand that draws attention for its quality of materials, workmanship and design. Attending Domotex for the second year, Sambhav has shown that he is ready for great things.
Sambhav poses with carpets which incorporate eight or nine shades of a single color and then accented them with a tinge of yellow to create striking texture.
Michael George stands with one of the Sambhav carpets whose design he has helped evolve.
Hossein Rezvani hung his walls with his celebration of the art of the Persian carpet that he says have appeared at Domotex for the past eight years. The recessed pale blue silk of this limited-edition design reveals patterns that emerge from sand-colored wool, as if an ancient treasure is being unearthed. Below them on the floor are the jewel-toned pieces like his Shiraz Sabz that nabbed a Carpet Design Award.
Hossein Rezvani displays his interplay between wool and silk that is a specialty above, and reviews the collection with a Domotex guided tour, below.
Obeetee brought carpet veteran Richard Ringrose back to Domotex where he joined Abhinay Gupta and Rohan Dhupar in displaying an arresting collection that favored many shades of blue in a great variety of designs that complemented bronzes and other mellow pieces.
Richard Ringrose shows Obeetee's line to Roz Rustigian of Rustigian Rugs of Providence, Rhode Island, and Rob Leahy of Fine Rugs of Charleston, South Carolina.
Zollanvari continues to reinvent the gabbeh. Some look like kilims. Some are embroidered. Some could be shown comfortably in the company of mid-20th century art. All have the richness of the fine wools and warm colors that are long a Zollanvari trademark. Roz Rustigian kept Reza Zollanvari and Sanjay Purohit busy as she assembled a collection for a special promotion in her store in Providence, Rhode Island.
At the opposite end of the design spectrum, Zollanvari's Kundan Pure Silk collection is also considered a must-see by fair attendees, who awarded a modern design called Rapture 4 the Visitors' Choice prize, which the company received for the second consecutive year.
Voted most liked by attendees at Domotex, Rapture 4 from the Kundan Pure Silk collection (above) earned Zollanvari a Visitors' Choice Carpet Design Award presented by Thilo Horstmann of Domotex to Reza Zollanvari.
British design studios Ayka Design, Knots Rugs and Luke Irwin were all noteworthy for their styling innovations. Knots Rugs was suitably British with gentle colors in designs that spoke politely, but in ways that were worth hearing. Drama was secondary to a strong "welcome home" feeling the carpets generated.
Winner of the Best Traditional Design category in the Carpet Design Awards competition, Michelle Evans of Ayka Design boldly experimented with texture. The prize winning Vase Green rug exemplified her inventive hand shearing technique to create contemporary looks with ages-old Persian patterns. Evans launched several other new designs at Domotex, including the show stopping Silhouette and Lace.
Designer Michelle Evans (center) discusses her new collections at Domotex 2017 where she won the Carpet Design Award for Best Traditional Design for the heavily textured Persian vase adaptation (below).
For all the color on display, however, the booth that was the talk of the show was Luke Irwin's Mosaic Collection where color was muted to support the story they told. In 2015, while Irwin was engaged in a small construction project at his home in Wiltshire, England, he discovered that he was living atop the remnants of what appears to have been a palatial Roman villa darting back to the third century. Its floors were covered with mosaics. They became the inspiration for his tessellated textures in wool and silk debuted at ABC Carpet & Home last year (read full story
Designer Luke Irwin poses in front of a design from the Mosaic Collection.
Rob Leahy of Fine Rugs of Charleston was enthused about the results. "In the carpet trade, we always say that a story can help sell a rug. This is a story unlike any other."
The Mosaic collection was displayed in a small, high-walled booth that created the effect of entering a sanctuary or a treasure chamber.
Luke Irwin's temple-like display of his astonishing Mosaic collection rugs.
In Luke Irwin's Mosaic collection, the tiles are woven in silk, with wool where the grout would be. When the carpet gets washed in iron oxide, a chemical reaction eats the wool down to the warp and leaves the silk isolated like individual mosaic cubes.
In the end, Domotex is a celebration of the remarkably diverse people who make up the carpet industry. Many come from countries where life has been made harder as a result of mindless violence. Yet together they share a vision of life as it can be, surrounded by the goodwill and beauty that comes from carpets.
Jeff Arcari of Landry & Arcari in Boston shows nephew Ben Arcari Cook what to look for at Domotex.
Editor's Note: Stephen Landrigan, who has reported for the Washington Post and BBC Radio, developed a keen interest in carpets and their production during the six years he lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he wrote several stories for RugNews.Com. He has done features on Afghan carpet makers for rug industry publications, including HALI and COVER. With co-author Qais Akbar Omar, he wrote A NIGHT IN THE EMPEROR'S GARDEN, chronicling a 2005 Dari-language production of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost in Kabul which he helped produce.