|LUKE IRWIN RUG COLLECTION DEBUTS IN WILLIAMS SONOMA HOME STORES
British area rug designer Luke Irwin opens his eponymous brand to a broad distribution at Williams Sonoma Home stores.
LONDON -- Bespoke area rug atelier Luke Irwin just rolled out the Luke Irwin Rug collection at 46 brick-and-mortar Williams Sonoma Home stores across the U.S. this month.
The London-based designer -- who counts British Royals, the Obamas, and members of the bands U2 and the Rolling Stones among his clientele -- historically has sold his sophisticated area rugs via selective channels in the U.S. such as Patterson Flynn Martin and iconic New York retailer ABC Carpet & Home. In fact, in 2016 Luke Irwin partnered with ABC to unveil a stunning new collection called Mosaic, based on archeological relics found on his estate near Bath (read full story) and some of those designs, with an entry price point of $15,000, have been adapted to fit the Williams Sonoma demographic profile.
"Great design should be accessible to all," designer Luke Irwin tells RugNews.com in discussing his new partnership with Williams Sonoma.
For the new Williams Sonoma Home collection, Irwin selected his top Mosaic and Ikat collection designs and recreates them in a more affordable finish. Hand-knotted in India of yarn-dyed wool the Williams Sonoma rugs start at $1,995 and $2,995 in 6x9.
RugNews.com sits down with Luke Irwin in his first interview discussing his exciting venture with luxury home decor and furnishings purveyor Williams Sonoma Home. Here's what he has to say:
Is the Williams Sonoma program Luke Irwin's first national retail collaboration in the U.S.?
LI: We collaborated a few years ago with Anthropologie on another small collection and the designs were mostly online rather than in store. With Williams Sonoma Home, the rugs will launch in stores across the country in their Williams Sonoma Home locations in early January.
Why the decision to bring the brand to a more accessible retail format?
LI: Great design should be accessible to all -- I had noticed all the best rug designs had a high barrier to entry, and I wanted to create something that was affordable but also classic. A great rug should stand the test of time -- it will, after all outlast nearly everything in the home outside of the artwork -- and something that could work as well in a million dollar home as in a rental apartment.
How did the collaboration with Williams Sonoma come about?
LI: I have always admired both their design and ethical ethos, so when we started talking about doing a collaboration, it just seemed a very natural fit.
Above and below, Luke Irwin's favorite design in his line for Williams Sonoma Home is the hand-knotted Deverill (shown in Peacoat) from the intricately detailed Mosaic collection.
How did you decide which designs to include in the Williams Sonoma program?
LI: We chose to focus on two designs that were some of the best known for the Luke Irwin core brand: Ikat and more recently the Mosaic collection. The ikats are similar to our Ikat collection but they're done in more muted tones -- blues, creams, stones - to make them more approachable (some of [my] Ikats are very strong in color!).
Do you have any favorites?
LI: My favorite design from the William Sonoma Home collaboration is the Deverill. This was the rug inspired by and based on the original mosaic I had found. While an obvious inspiration point for a rug designer, I absolutely didn't want to do a pastiche of Roman mosaic. When you see something that's unearthed, you see the vibrancy of the color in it, which is extraordinary, and you realize that this is a design for flooring which predates rugs.
What I loved about it was the sense of the worn, of the distressing and the geometry from the mosaic pieces, which gives it a beautiful kind of structure. When I originally discovered this mosaic, I began gathering snippets of information, learning about the world in which the original mosaics were created and soaking up as much possible from the discoveries being unearthed. It's so much more than taking aspects of the mosaic and putting it into this rug collection.
What sets these designs for Williams Sonoma apart from other rugs in the market?
LI: All design is derivative, but the Mosaic collection was the first time that technique had ever been applied to rugs -- they look so different than anything else in the market as that type of design has always been reserved for another material in flooring, which is tile. I'm really excited that consumers can now access a design that is so different from anything out there in the retail market.
Luke Irwin's hand-knotted Ikat Nadya rug in peacoat debuts in Williams Sonoma Home stores this month.
How do you expect this more "mass" retail market will be different from your current business?
LI: Much of what we do in our current business is custom, so a huge difference will be that these are stock items -- people have a choice but it is within a certain selection of styles. I think the story behind Mosaic will resonate as strongly with consumers as it does with the trade. It's of historical significance that is relevant to anyone regardless of what they do, so I hope that helps people to understand that the floor beneath their feet is in some way connected to a part of history.
What's next for Luke Irwin?
LI: We have about 8 new collections underway all of which are groundbreaking both in terms of the technical execution and the designs involved. We always do what we want to do, which means that hopefully we always stay ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of knockoff of our Mosaic collection, so we are going to be moving forward with new collections and designs later this year.
Luke Irwin's stunning Mosaic collection gets recast for the Williams Sonoma Home collaboration. Shown, Claudius in spice.