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Generation Next

A report on the next generation in the rug industry

‘After landing on my feet in the family business and getting to know my counterparts, I have noticed something special. There is a hunger and passion for rugs that is being driven by a younger generation. I saw this energy most recently at Domotex, where all my counterparts ate, breathed and slept rugs. We weren’t caught up in your average mid-twenties gossip, but rather focused on how to advance our businesses and be resources for one another. Consumed by the #RugLife’, I felt it necessary to share our perspective. Working alongside COVER, I have rounded up a few of my colleagues to share our vision of where we think the industry is going, how it continues to evolve, and our goals. I hope you enjoy reading the responses.‘ Cyrus Nazmiyal, Rug&Kilim

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Cyrus Nazmiyal, Rug&Kilim, @rugandkilim

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

Rug&Kilim was founded almost forty years ago by my father, Jahanshah Nazmiyal, and is now a trade-only custom design firm catering to the best interior designers in the world. I, for the most part, handle our wholesale business, working with the premier rug stores around the world, placing our designs and textures in their showrooms.

Which area of the market does your company target?

Our trade-only business targets the premier interior designers in the industry. We work very closely with them on their highly exclusive custom projects. Our wholesale business launched three years ago with Scandinavian, is our way to introduce our high-end offerings, at a more affordable price point, to the top-tier rug stores around the world.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

Everyone who walks into our showroom has a need for something special. We have a vast collection of samples, a library we like to call it, of all types and from all periods. Colour has been one of our driving forces in our marketplace and is one of the niche categories we excel in. We have been doing well with our ‘Mid Century’ collection as well. For the most part, however, our clients draw inspiration from the aesthetics they want to achieve, and we create something one-of-a-kind for them. Very rarely do we find a sample is picked off the rack and made as is.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

I am not sure if it’s season by season like in the fashion industry. However, styles do fall in and out of favour. Today’s rugs continue to play off of what was once cool and in fashion, by creating something ‘new’ of it. I definitely think this is important for rug design, as it creates new categories and continues to push boundaries.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today?

Rugs lay the foundation for what a room will become. All the aesthetics a room is looking to achieve revolve around the colours, texture and design of the rug.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

A twentysomething is looking for a temporary rug that they will probably discard when they move out of their flat or apartment. They have a need, but appreciation is a different story. Very rarely do I see someone my age wanting a handmade vintage or antique 4×6 for their bedroom. I have a beautiful Mid Century Anatolian in my bedroom, but that’s just me.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design?

I see an online presence for handmade rugs continuing to grow. I would like to see the market put more emphasis on brand and quality, and give more credit to creators in order to protect those who push the industry forward.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today?

The internet has made competition fiercer, as we are all now dependent on the web. It allows us all to communicate faster, which creates more opportunity, but it also comes with its own set of unique challenges. I conduct most of my business and searches through email and internet, rarely needing to call or see someone to operate. I am born into the internet era, it complements me, and is what I know. I can’t imagine it any other way.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

Tough question. I think antique rugs will always have a presence in the market. However, I think that the percentage will continue to decrease over time. Antique rugs need some sort of a rebirth to become mainstream again. An example I have noticed is antique rugs, in need of major repair, being used in coffee houses and lounges – and I think that idea is pretty cool and would love to see that grow. I think the idea of antique rugs will always be around, but it will need to change and evolve in order to grow.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

My goal is to see the wholesale part of our business continue to grow as we introduce more collections into the marketplace. I really believe stores and their customers are beginning to trust our taste and designs through the success Scandinavian is offering them. There is way more in the pipeline, too. We are beginning to roll out Scandinavian Piled and Texture of Color, which is our entrance of piled pieces into the marketplace, so it will be exciting to see the next collections take off. It is nice to cater to the 1 percent, but I feel our designs offer much more than that. We would like to see each home have at least one Rug&Kilim carpet in it!

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Chad Stark, Stark, @starkcarpet

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

STARK is the premier trade industry partner for luxury residential and contract carpeting projects. As Senior VP of STARK, I oversee the company’s marketing, strategy, IT, client relations and HR.

Which area of the market does your company target?

The highest end.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

We have seen the market become flooded by abstract modern designs over the past few years, and customers at the top designers are ready for something different. Traditional elements are having a resurgence, but in an updated colour palette.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

Rug trends are starting to fade in and out faster now than in previous generations.

 What role do you think rugs play in interiors today?

Rugs have always played an essential role in making homes feel more comfortable, softening up the mood and giving a sense of relaxation to any space. This is why we continue to see so many carpets in bedrooms, while hard surfaces are trending up in other areas of the house.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

No.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design?

The rug market is turning a little more traditional again, but in a new, sophisticated, and clean way. I am hoping to see independent manufacturers from the global weaving community innovate in qualities and weave structures to make this trend a reality.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past 5 years? How does it affect your work today?

Technology and the web have created a more level playing field for rug vendors. Now with sleek branding, storytelling imagery, and great digital marketing, any rug start-up can look like the most advanced and sophisticated rug manufacturer. However, high-end consumers are still doing their offline research and visiting showrooms to investigate a brand’s real story and see the product in person before purchasing.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

They will continue to have a strong niche market.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

My company strives to push the limits of quality and design at valuable prices, so that more and more consumers can learn about and live with beautiful rugs.

 

 

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Amir Aligorgi, Behruz Studio, @behruzstudio

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

Behruz Studio is one of Australia’s leading rug and textile businesses. We’ve been customising, sourcing and selling modern and antique carpets, rugs, kilims and related textiles since 1984, in Melbourne, Australia. My role is design director, but I am also working with my father on the fundamentals and at the back end of the business.

Which area of the market does your company target?

Having been established for so many years the business has a strong, loyal client base. As we have a large community of producers and weavers we are able to provide a vast selection of textures and qualities. Because of this we provide a creative experience for Australia’s leading interior designers and architects. We also have a great relationship with textile and rug collectors.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

I am finding that our business is moving towards more customised projects – each one of its own trend and style – to cater for the individual taste of the decorator/architect and client.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

I don’t believe seasonal trends are important for rug design, unless you are mass producing, especially since we do a lot of custom work. We strive to create concepts that can stand the rest of time.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today?

Rugs are the anchoring point for a space that brings the interior together, so the rug becomes the soul of the room.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

Most don’t understand a lot of woven or handmade products. When you don’t know the story about something you can’t appreciate it. I find that when the story, the romance of the process of rug-making is told, anyone can appreciate rugs.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design?

Living in such a fast-paced world I believe more and more good quality, machine-made products will be produced. However, I hope that traditional hand-weaving remains a true tradition and an art form. There will be better-made rugs as technology improves, and when it comes to design there are no limits. I have no preference for any particular direction of design or look as I like to create unique concepts for every project.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today?

It has been great. More exposure via social media platforms – more reach, and therefore more interesting clients finding us, and we are finding them.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

As time goes by the best antiques will be seriously revered. They will remain very valuable both for collectors and as inspiration for designs. They will be a great reminder of where this all started and will play a bigger role for serious designers.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

It’s not my intention to make a mark on the industry. It’s my aim to design beautiful rugs that people truly appreciate long-term and to provide jobs for our community of weavers.

 

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Eric Peykar, Nourison, @Nourison

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

Nourison is a leader in the floor-covering industry. We manufacture, import and distribute rugs, carpets, pillows and other decor items. We specialise in bringing in products at competitive price points with an emphasis on colour and design. I work in our e-commerce division, specifically handling relationships with some of our e-commerce partners.

Which area of the market does your company target?

As a company one of our core values is to attempt to reach every and any possible market within the rug and carpet industry.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

The current layout of the industry has allowed for more insight into what consumers really want. Many of the designs that have been working for us recently fall into the category of ‘globally inspired rugs’, including Moroccan, tribal, and distressed looks.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

The average millennial cares a lot about the appearance of their home. Twentysomethings care a lot about what their decor says about them. The buying trend among twentysomethings is an emphasis on value, style, and colour over quality or history.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today?

The internet and new technology have had a huge impact on our company. With current technology we are able to utilise data in order to make smarter decisions when it comes to purchasing and logistics. Technology has also allowed for us to communicate more with our factories, enabling us to innovate at a much faster pace. E-commerce has been a huge disrupter in the rug world. We have had to rethink the way we do business in order to keep up with the demands of this rapidly changing market.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

My goal is to make as many happy customers as possible. It would be great if everyone bought a Nourison rug. It would be even better if everyone that buys one is happy with their decision.

 

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Jared Cadry, Cadrys Group, @cadrys

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

I am the creative director for the Cadrys Group, encompassing our retail, wholesale and projects divisions. The role covers various aspects: product development, marketing, branding and visual displays and merchandising. I also have a sales role across all aspects of the company – how can you not in this business?

Which area of the market does your company target?

Our retail division, Classic & Contemporary, focuses solely on the high-end residential market, while our wholesale division spans the entire market from mass-market to high-end retailers. The contracts division covers large-scale residential and commercial developments to mid-high-end hotel projects.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

We try to focus less on trends and more on a timeless style. As we are a country surrounded by ocean, naturally our style is more laid-back and relaxed, so neutral tones feature prominently the base to our products.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

At the high end, ‘trends’ are less important, but it is vital to be aware of and adjust to changing tastes. This can be achieved through design, colour and construction techniques. As you move towards the mid to low end, trends are more significant, as the buyers seek an ever-changing interior.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today? 

As open-plan architecture gains popularity, rugs are used as the ‘anchor’ to define different areas. This has led architects and designers to focus on starting with the rug as the foundation to the room.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs? 

Not really, at any serious or curated level. However, they can be influenced to understand that, in most interior applications, rugs are required to create a look.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design? 

I feel the high-end market is going to stay within the neutral arena, with its inspiration drawn from antique and classic styles from varying regions. As we go towards the mid to low end, I see machine- or loom-woven rugs and carpets growing in popularity. This is going to affect handmade productions from places like India. There is a better guarantee of consistency, quality and less room for error, which is always going to win volume buyers over.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today? 

The internet has certainly assisted with the growth of our company and others in this industry, through the likes of Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram. Access to visually appealing interior imagery has helped change people’s mind-set about rugs. In terms of e-commerce, this is still limited to the wholesale division of our business, as the price points at which people will spend online are still capped.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future? 

The antique rug of our parents’ generation and today’s antique rug are two very different things. Once the rug to need to be in mint condition before it would even be considered, whereas today people are looking for antique rugs that are worn, distressed and show signs of their age, to give off the rustic, lived-in aesthetic. Today, people care about handmade, artisanal products, so the antique rug should always have a place in interiors.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

Carrying on the legacy and reputation built up by my great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncles – to continue it, but by adding my own legacy.

 

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Hector Coombs, Christopher Farr, @chrisophefarrdesign

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

Christopher Farr is one of the best-known and oldest contemporary carpet producers. We are highly regarded for having taken carpets in a modernist direction when it felt to most people like a very risky thing to do. These days we continue trying to push the envelope of what a carpet can be, while still being true to our roots in antique carpets and to the centuries of tradition that we benefit from.

My role is to continue to find sale avenues and to ensure we are always developing new products to put in front of our clients.

Which area of the market does your company target?

We target the higher end of the market

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

We mostly work with abstraction, ranging in influence from Constructivism to Expressionism. We always try to put a contemporary twist on it. Our customers really appreciate personal touches and often there can be a conceptual element or process to the rug design that reflects this.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

Yes, absolutely. Berber, erased and overdyed have all been big trends in recent years. These trends are important to follow if you wish to stay ahead of them or really capitalise on them. But, unlike in the fashion world, I don’t think you really need to stay aware of them to run a successful business, especially if you have your own vision.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today?

I think they play the same role they have always played. They are art for the floor, they add warmth and comfort to a room, they define space and they reflect one’s personal taste.

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

They are unlikely to be a connoisseur, but they are also unlikely not to have a basic appreciation of the concept of rugs. It’s our job to educate the next generation of rug connoisseurs, but also to be open minded and listen to new opinions. If someone has enough of an appreciation of rugs to venture an opinion, then we as rug producers should respect that enough to listen.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design?

I suspect that Faig Ahmed has been the first to recognise and interpret the internet trend of glitch art. I think this concept has a lot of potential and will probably be expanded on by many people in the future. I wonder whether emerging trends in virtual reality that are beginning to inspire and affect the art world will expand into our world.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today?

The internet has totally changed the way we relate to customers and the way customers relate to us. I’m sure it has for everyone. I think it’s interesting to note that weaving was one of the first industries to make use of binary code, and that pile carpets are essentially pixelated images. There is such a direct relationship between the basics of digital media and the fundamentals of textiles. You can see this so clearly in the designs of the recent past and it will be interesting to see how this develops in the next few years.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

I don’t think that the antique carpet’s role will change hugely in the future. If anything I think we have seen the bottom of the market and are due a massive resurgence. I’m always being told stories about people in the fairly recent past who used to scavenge antiques in unlikely and sometimes unethical places. I think we are about to see an increase in demand for antique carpets – it’s how the industry handles the supply that will be interesting. In my opinion the recent huge demand for ‘vintage’ Berber carpets reflects the increased demand among the general public for something that resembles an antique rug.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

I would absolutely love to earn an obituary in HALI.

 

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Nicole Ordaya, Samad, @samad_rugs

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

Samad was founded by my father, David Samad, and my uncle, Malcolm Samad. They established their business as wholesale rug importers in New York City in 1985. Since then, Samad has expanded globally, offering an extensive array of traditional, transitional and modern collections. My role in the company is in sales and social media marketing.

Which area of the market does your company target?

Speciality retail rug stores and to the trade, including furniture stores, interior designers and architects.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today? 
Transitional and modern designs are definitely our most prominent market. We have adapted ancient art forms such as the Japanese Shibori dyeing technique, which has proved highly successful with our customers. People seem to love the fusion of traditional motifs with contemporary colourways.

Do designs fall in and out of fashion? 
Popular design styles and colours seem to change quite frequently. This is why our bespoke lines have increased in a very positive way. With bespoke, clients can easily tailor the scale, colour and quality of a rug to their own specifications, minimising the threat of sweeping design trends.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today? 

The rug is the heart and soul of the room. Every interior deserves a rug, a Samad rug to be more specific!

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

Perhaps the average twentysomething would not be that knowledgeable about rugs and our craft. However the beauty of a hand-woven rug is clear to see at any age. My appreciation for rugs would be different from someone who did not grow up in the industry. I love rugs, I’m biased.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design? 

Millennials will be consuming more rugs that are available at reasonable prices. Colour, design and price will be major factors to consider when making a purchase. We hope that more of our business will be custom orders in high-end qualities, and we are gearing up for this trend.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today? 

It has been incredible! Our website and online catalogues are the quickest, most effective way to showcase our collections to people all over the globe. Online platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Houzz have benefited Samad in so many ways. We have invested a great deal of time and energy into creating an online image that tells our story. Social Media is crucial for any business to succeed in this day and age.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

My grandfather used to say, ‘Provided there are sheep, there will always be carpets.’ All the fine carpets made today will one day become antiques, and so they will never go out of style.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

My father and uncle have been industry leaders, and my goal is to keep our company relevant by embracing change and continuing to push the boundaries of innovation. I am extremely proud to be the fifth generation of our family business.

 

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Shayan Naziri, Lila Valadan, www.lilavaladan.com

In a few sentences, describe your business and job role.

I am helping my mother to become the finest rug maker there is. This involves heated debates with her, trips into the Persian highlands, taking care of customers, preparing the tax report and carrying a lot of rugs. I guess in a small family business, you tend to be anything and everything.

Which area of the market does your company target?

We produce carpets of fine quality and artistry in Iran. We operate in exclusive quantities as our production is subject to the supply of resources. High-quality materials are scarce, hence we are targeting a small niche of people who seek unique craftsmanship – connoisseurs looking for timeless rugs that have been crafted with love and without any chemicals. We don’t have a geographic focus and are fortunate to connect to customers around the world.

What trends, styles, tastes are successful for you and your customers today?

For forty years my father ran his business on a single principle: to be truly modern, you have to come to terms with to your tradition. Keeping this philosophy alive has always been our task. We adore timeless designs and I believe our success relies on having stayed true to our beliefs ever since. Most of our designs have been carried on since the days when I was jumping on the carpet stacks as a child. Ideas and perceptions always evolve, but your core belief should remain unchanged. In order to preserve this philosophy of business, we are dependent on our valued partners. So, we are investing in people, not businesses.

Are seasonal trends important for rug design? Do designs fall in and out of fashion?

Generally, trends remain important as they allow the market to move – but it feels as though, in the rug business, time passes gradually. This is a good thing, as it allows us to think deeper about what we do. I grew up being told that a rug is a mirror of heaven. And, with every rug, the customer creates his heavenly surrounding – this sounds to me like a heavy responsibility! The more we are able to divorce ourselves from a purely commercial perspective and promote intangible aspirations, the better we can avoid being victim to seasonal trends.

What role do you think rugs play in interiors today?

To tell the truth, rugs play a more minor role than I’d like to admit. Over the years, rugs have gone from being presented as art for floors to complementary items for furniture. This is such a shame, as in this world, where everything is synthetic and machine-made, handmade rugs are a homage to nature. In some cases, a handmade rug might be the only natural furniture in people’s interiors. I see this as something we can use to advantage. A rug embodies not only dedication to the highest craftsmanship, but also stands for a philosophical view of life. It is belief in beauty, nature, tradition, people and paradise. So the decision to buy a rug becomes less a matter of taste, more a question of identity, who are we and what values we stand for. What other interior object can say that about itself?

Does the average twentysomething have any appreciation of rugs?

None of my friends have ever bought a rug from me yet. But I am still trying.

Where do you see the market going in the next five years? What would you like to see happen in rug design?

In recent years, I have experienced the market as very price- and design-driven. Collectively picking on visual trends gave the market a very homogenous appearance. I admire Italian textile brands. Their philosophy dictates that they think long-term and build their business around a unique personality. I could see the rug market following the same pathway. So design trends will be expressed by personal interpretations to promote the identity of a brand.

How has the internet/technology affected your business in the past five years? How does it affect your work today?

The internet has always been an integral tool for us. However, we consider it to be only one aspect of our business and don’t let it affect our way of operating. A critical question to ask is, from what angle do we look at the internet? I could see the internet as the reason why customers tend to visit less in person today, but I could also see it as a tool to provide more reasons for my customers to visit me. It can be used as an amplifier to tell our story in ways never possible before. I think this makes sense, because the rug business especially is built on personal connections. Thus, I like to use the internet to enhance relationships – not devalue them.

What do you think the role of antique carpets will be in the future?

I have less experience with antique carpets. Yet I believe that a lot of their potential remains dormant. Most antique carpets have been crafted with such level of detail, giving the impression that they exist only to worship beauty. You won’t find many other products today carrying such soul. As the product itself requires no reinvention, the focus could shift towards innovating related aspects such as communication, marketing and distribution. In future, I could see antique carpet dealers collaborating with contemporary interior brands.

What is your goal in terms of making your mark on the rug industry?

I would like to improve the back-end processes of the industry. Carrying on the traditional rituals, while injecting the ideas of today’s quality management. Dealing with the question, how can we reduce wastage and costs? This doesn’t mean replacing craftsmanship with automation, but increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of handmade processes. Tradition and innovation are not incompatible in my view.

 

 

 

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