The adage about quality winning over quantity certainly rang true as I talked to exhibitors from The Rug Show New York. The vast hall of the Javits was not heaving with throngs of buyers but most companies reported good sales and an upturn on last year’s business. Many had expected the dates for the show (25–28 August) to dampen prospects but—while the switch from September may have had an impact on foot traffic—almost everyone I spoke to went home with a positive impression of TRS 2018. The right people came, bought, and left with a selfie courtesy of the Tamarian stand.
One of the star rug collections of the show—one that got everyone from seasoned buyers to student visitors excited—could be found on the stand of New Jersey’s Wool & Silk. Here were such uplifting titles as Joy, Happy Life-Earth and Happy Life-Ice. Their designs brought to mind mid-century modern playfulness, patchwork textiles and Paul Klee-meets-Philip Guston. These popular rugs were more than just compelling artworks—up close the clever use of loop pile and good textures gave them a whole other dimension.
Another stand-out design for many was Tissage’s Polonaise rug: soft colours, great texture and beautifully produced. The rugs on Lapchi’s stand (in partnership with Galleria Battilossi and Tak Özer) also attracted a great of deserved attention. The hand-knotted examples on display continued the brand’s investigation into texture and the refined aesthetic of previous collections such as Pattern Mix and Eclectica. At the same time, a range of impressive handloom rugs and samples offered an experimental departure into what the technique can deliver. The results, inspired by hand-knotted qualities and aimed at contract work, were impressive for those who understand handloom’s limitations.
First-time faces to TRS included UK brand Luke Irwin, represented by JTN Rugs and Home, newly set up by Sanjay Purohit, who has joined Luke Irwin as a non-executive director. Bringing the aesthetics of ancient Wiltshire to New York, Purohit presented the US debut of Irwin’s impressive Mosaic collection. Also new for 2018 was Spanish brand Rica Basagoiti, who showed a range of bold patterned decorative rugs covering antique, Arts and Crafts and contemporary.
We loved the giant posters on the stand of Tufenkian, who did well with the firm’s new Rebel Silks collection, some which are one-off designs and some of which are programmed. Sahar showed new pieces from the outstanding Tessuto collection, in which complex weaving structures give the surface of the rugs an almost liquid flow. More dynamic surfaces could be seen at Zollanvari’s stand, with their new multi-layered Floral Medallions design and Ketenci’s ever-popular self-named collection—Tibetan rugs beautifully finished in Turkey—which has stayed top of buyer lists for the past two years.
For ultimate texture, Kirkit’s stand was a tactile and visual treat. Refined and stylish, it was dominated by a series of undyed wool and goat hair rugs, featuring the wonderful goat hair rug by Muhammed Türk that arrived on the pages of COVER 50 back in March. More colourful but equally as desirable were the one-off designs presented by Bereket, while Asha offered us yet more fabulous surfaces, showing a series of tufted designs and samples pioneering new techniques. Yerra CEO Santiago Schapira is keen to experiment with his animal hide designs; for TRS this year he showed a few rugs from his new collaborative project ‘Carpets for a Cause’ with Oscar Isberian and sixteen invited designers, which launched this week (see more COVER 53, out in December).
You can’t discuss texture without mentioning Sumaq, who showed two new flatweave alpaca rugs designs: simple, extremely soft and apparently very durable. Paulig’s new Monza design with great fringe detail in 100% wool had great appeal. Other flatweave highlights were Rug & Kilim’s Scandinavian rugs (the company also debuted the first designs from its new Mid-Century Modern collection), Nasiri’s latest tonal design, and the vast range of flatwoven and hooked designs at The New England Collection.
After debuting at the show in 2016, German brand Rug Star returned to TRS with some rug drama and dark Rothko-esque compositions. Tibetan Rug Company has been working with a range of new designers and had some great new pieces, my favourite being Shards Charcoal while the Highland rugs of French Accents were super-stylish. There were a number of striking pieces on Mobayen’s stand: two attractive foliage designs (one that appeared on the trends page of COVER 52) and a geometric pattern coming with a black or white ground. New Moon showed a range of new rugs, the most striking for me being a semi-abstract floral pattern in subtle shades, one of those designs that just works. The brand is currently busy with its upcoming showroom in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Tamarian’s impressive display stood out from the crowd, hanging from a metal frame. Here we discovered large samples/small rugs, comprising new designs and classics. In addition, the Baltimore brand brought its very own Selfie Station to the proceedings, so we were not short in photos of rug dudes in hats playing the air guitar. The wool and silk Sansa TK Amadeus was one of the most popular rugs of the show, while for Samad the new design Valloire from the Savoy Collection garnered a lot of attention.
Stark Studio Rugs, which launched its brand at last year’s New York event, reported good business this year; one design that was particularly successful was Erdem Storm. Belgian brand HOC had the perfect palette for the US market, soft greys and blues combined with gentle pastel shades; a number of the designs turned out to be show favourites, one of which was Arcadia 508. Creative Touch brought new designs and colourways from the Erin V collection—I liked the new version of Brita using strong orange against black and blue. But the rug of the show was far softer in tones: a 100% wool Bosphorus collection design, with a looser weave technique to give clients a more affordable decorative piece.
Taking centre stage as always was Art Resources, who had a rug for every occasion and every look. Some of the brand’s ombre designs were particularly eye-catching. Jaipur’s Free Verse by Kavi rug is a design that always grabs my attention, and I liked many of Bokara’s new Canterbury Silk collection rugs with interesting patterns in blues and greys. HRI, Amer and S&H combined classic neutrals and intense pops of colour, while Anadol’s Ushak designs were well received, and everyone was pleased to see Woven Legends at the show with some attractive classic designs.
Aside from all the rugs on display, this year’s Rug Show featured a wide range of extra events and displays in an attempt to bring in new faces and introduce fresh ideas to the fair. COVER co-organised a Designers Day for Monday, which comprised two well-attended panel discussions aimed at interior designers. Edie van Breems and Rhonda Eleish of Eleish van Breems, interior designer Brock Forsblom and Josh Nazmiyal of Rug & Kilim joined me as moderator to discuss Scandinavian Modernism for the first lively session. An hour later Kathleen Jordan of Gensler opened the second discussion on ‘Sustainable Luxury’ with information about brands working on green production processes. Joining us on stage, to turn the conversation to rugs were Anthony Mott of Crosby Street Studios, Björn Björnsson and Kim Radovich of ASID NY Metro, Reto Aschwanden of Label STEP, and Bruce Moats of Goodweave.
The Rug Show and COVER also collaborated on ‘Spaces’, a series of vignettes featuring Stark Studio Rugs alongside new furniture brand Edtoba; and on French Accents with furniture by Moooi. In addition, the Under The Rug tours on Saturday and Sunday were run by Rug Insider editor and The Ruggist blogger Michael Christie, who took two groups on an educational journey around the show.
TRS New York ended in spirited style, and we hope to see the upbeat mood move to North Carolina in October as The Rug Show hits the High Point Market. For coverage of the next event keep following COVER online.