Thinking outside of the rectangle
February 21, 2014,
In terms of shape, material and construction, the rug business has suffered from a lack of diversity over the years. The industry has long been dominated by rectangular rugs, made of wool or synthetics, in standard sizes. But now, savvy rug producers are pushing the design envelope, and many rugs have been granted a fresh approach in terms of materials, shape, construction or appearance - adding a new level of excitement to the showroom floor.
TWO RUGS IN ONE
One of the top selling points for flat-weaves is that they're reversible - essentially two rugs in one with the same pattern on both sides. About a year and a half ago, KAS Rugs decided to build on that model.
During the summer 2012 Atlanta market, the Somerset, N.J.-based rug manufacturer introduced the Serafina Collection, which featured dhurrie rugs with different patterns on each side.
"The idea behind it was to take the popularity of flat-weaves and combine that with a very useful two sided option," explained Wendy Reiss, vice president of key accounts for KAS. "Of course, in order to do that, we had to think through durability and fashion. The rug itself has a nice thickness to it with a reinforced border stitch. It feels substantial. It is also soft, which unlike many dhurries, is a nice plus."
Designs on the 100% wool rugs include florals, geometrics and nautical designs.
Reiss said now that economic indicators are ticking upward, it feels good to flex a little creative muscle now and again.
"Honestly, we really pride ourselves on being fashion-forward and innovators. It is nice that the market is bouncing back a bit as it allows us to put those creative hats on and do what we love to do - create great designs and constructions," Reiss said.
In the winter of 2012, officials with F.J. Kashanian were traveling overseas when they observed a material called sari silk that can be hand-woven into rugs. The sari silk's most pronounced quality is its vibrant colors. Jonathan Kashanian, vice president of the company, noted that retailers were requesting more and more color when they decided to come to market with the rugs.
"Ultimately, they really make a statement in the office or home in colors that have never been seen a floor before - or even furniture or fabric," Kashanian said.
With the success of the sari silk rugs to its credit, Kashanian said the company is trying to replicate the rugs' vivid colors in rugs using other materials.
"Wool generally doesn't get so bright and shiny. However we have introduced our Sari Wool Collection which has become the closest of any wool rugs to emulate the style and brightness of sari silk rugs while still keeping the rugs classy and usable by the consumer," he said.
A COLLECTION BUILT ON STANDING OUT
In October, Surya introduced rugs from licensed partner Papilio. The Belgian design firm is known for a unique design aesthetic and use of sustainable materials, which lends itself to rugs that stand out.
"The rugs have been designed to appeal to a variety of different lifestyles, from whimsical novelty rugs geared towards teenagers to earthy, nature-inspired styles to globally-influenced designs to more elegant and sophisticated looks," said Lynne Meredith, vice president of product development for Surya. "There's really something for everyone."
Among the introductions in High Point was a "mood" rug created with teens in mind and features a working zipper that can be adjusted to reflect the mood of the day from choices such as relaxed or playful. Other eye-catching rugs include a black, studded rug made of rubber and felted wool and rugs made of metal grommeted canvas.
Meredith noted that using all sorts of different materials in the construction process is par for the course for Papilio.
"Papilio's design philosophy is centered on giving used and discarded materials a second life. The designs incorporate a lot of exotic fibers such as bamboo, banana and camel wool, along with less common materials like newspaper, used cardboard, old T-shirts and recycled Indian sari silk," Meredith said. "The combination of recycled materials and unexpected construction techniques creates eye-catching designs that are not only hip but also very eco-friendly."
A NEW TAKE ON A CLASSIC CONSTRUCTION
For nearly 100 years, one of Capel Rugs' mainstays has been its braided offerings.
While the classic round and oval braids are a major part of the Troy, N.C.-based manufacturer's operations, they took on new life thanks to Capel's newest partnership.
|The zipper can be moved to reflect its owner’s
mood for the day on this rug from Surya brand
|Serafina flat-weave rugs
from KAS feature a distinct
pattern on either side.|
|The Mineral Collection from Momeni features laserprinted
images inspired by the gemstone trend on a
cotton canvas rug.|
|Two rounded sides give tailored edge rugs from
Capel a look that stands out versus the traditional
|Loloi thought outside of the box in developing the
indoor/outdoor Garden shag rugs.|
As part of Capel's Hableland line of rugs in partnership with Hable Construction, braided wool rugs were introduced along with loop-hooked rugs. One such braided rug is crafted to resemble a doily or a snowflake.
"Susan Hable said she wanted to try a braided rug and make it different than anybody else. That's where the crocheted rug came from with the unusual design," said Allen Robertson, vice president of sales for Capel. "She thought it might be appealing to people to take a look that's been out a long time and make it fresh and exciting."
Capel also incorporates rounded, tailored edges on the borders of some of its rectangular or square braided rugs. Robertson said braided rugs lend themselves to all sorts of creative sizes and shapes.
"We can do any kind of shape with braids. This crochet is the first step to catch people's eye," he said. "The tailored edge is a step in that direction too; taking a rectangle and rounding the border."
MANY WAYS TO MAKE A SHAG
A look around the marketplace reflects the varied nature of shag rugs. With myriad constructions, pile depths and looks, it seems the only limitation is one's imagination.
"We make different qualities so we span the gamut for all budgets and tastes. Shags offer the luxury look, soft feel and simplicity that the modern younger generation is looking for, and they gravitate to shags because they are so reasonably priced," said Carol Tisch, vice president of marketing for Safavieh. "The looks we have vary from Flokati to extra plush shags with strands up to 8 centimeters long. We have leather shags, wool as well as synthetic fiber shags, and we also mix different materials to create innovative new designs. I think shags are universally appealing because they offer a feeling of luxury - a designer look that is achievable."
Tisch said with countless available materials, there's plenty of room outside of the box for creative thought and design.
"Most volume and mid-tier shag rugs today are synthetics, but we do them with viscose to get a more luxurious organic look," she said. "We use natural wool yarns for the designer market, and wool is also used in our new hand-tufted Casablanca Collection to achieve an authentic Moroccan Beni Ourain look. We are working on shags with Lurex metallic yarn for a subtle glitter effect that complements the trend to glamour in interior design."
TAKING WOOL IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION
While wool rugs are a staple of Jaipur's business, the Norcross, Ga.-based manufacturer recently decided to take a new look at ways to produce rugs with the traditional material in creating its Scandinavia Collection.
The result: rugs made of felted wool "ropes" that when bound together, create unique textures and looks.
"It's very dense and has a cool texture. The more prominent feature is simply that it offers a more modern take on rug construction," said Candace Clarke, marketing director for Jaipur. "The more interesting feature of felted wool is that you can create thick square, round and triangular ropes that can be braided, twisted, woven and sewn together to create textures not typically found in a cut pile or loop pile rugs."
She said the Scandinavia rugs have resonated in the
"Textures have been big all year so our Scandinavia collection was a huge hit from the start, but the high quality, new take on texture and the undyed eco-friendly nature of the collection seems to have really hit home with the end consumers," Clarke noted.
SHAG RUGS CAN GO OUTSIDE?
Shag rugs, with their luxurious piles and soft feel underfoot, are common throughout many a room inside homes. But what about outside?
Loloi Rugs has a shag rug that fits in any indoor or outdoor space in its Garden Shag Collection.
"Last year we decided to aggressively go after the indoor/outdoor market, so we introduced many new indoor/outdoors," said Cyrus Loloi, a principal of the Dallas-based manufacturer. "The goal was to introduce outdoor rugs with genuine indoor appeal. Hence, the idea of a shag, which we're used to only seeing inside."
Loloi said the upkeep of the Garden shag is substantially easier than what it takes to keep up a traditional shag rug.
"It also originated from the idea that people love shag rugs but they're troubled by the maintenance and clean ability," he said. "Garden shag is washable and highly stain-resistant so it alleviates those concerns."
ART FOR THE FLOOR
While a number of new rug styles are meant to accentuate the feel, Momeni's Mineral Collection is primarily a vehicle for the look.
The cotton canvas rugs are laser-printed with a number of gemstone prints to capitalize on the trend.
"We've been very inspired by the trend of gemstones for a while now. Gemstones are ornate and intricate with a lot of color, so we wanted to make sure that would shine through in the rug. The laser printing was the perfect base for that," said Ashley Alford, design manager for Momeni. "We printed on a cotton canvas with a similar feeling to a hide rug. You buy that type of rug for the print. The gemstone trend is so hot right now; it's everywhere else in the home market but not in rugs yet."
Alford said a pile of any substance would dull the visual effect of the rugs, so it was important to find a rug that would effectively reflect the imagery. "Sometimes when people first see it, because it is on canvas, they're a little confused by it. It's art for your floor similar to the density of all these leather rugs that are coming back into style," she said. "You're not going to get a plush rug; you would lose all the details."
HIGH DESIGN AT VALUE PRICES
Tea-washed and over dyed handmade rugs are popular product offerings from a number of manufacturers. The rugs are distressed and then treated to create the desired look, either heavily faded or overflowing with color.
Orian Rugs has created the same looks in a machine-loomed rug, making the on-trend style available at the lower end of the price spectrum.
"I believe we're the first to do it in the machinemades to get the bright colors in which we had an existing krill to pull from to create those distressed looks in anything from a traditional to a transitional pattern," said Morgan DeBrew, associate marketing manager for the Anderson, S.C.-based company. "A lot of them look like they don't have a whole lot of pattern because of the distressed look. Our designers have done a great job of creating the distressed look in a machine woven product."
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