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The Decorative Carpet
Fine Handmade Rugs in Contemporary Interiors
A L I X G . P E R R AC H O N

The Monacelli Press

To my late father, George M. Gudefin, who taught me to strive only for the best, and to my mother Joan, who has always believed I could. To my beloved husband, Jean, without whom this book would not be!

Copyright © 2010 The Monacelli Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Text © 2010 Alix G. Perrachon

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by The Monacelli Press, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

The Monacelli Press and the M design are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.


Perrachon, Alix G. The decorative carpet : fine handmade rugs in contemporary interiors/by Alix G. Perrachon; foreword by Doris Leslie Blau. — 1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-58093-299-8 (hardcover) 1. Rugs in interior decoration. I. Title. II. Title: Fine handmade rugs in contemporary interiors. NK2115.5.R77P47 2010 747’.5—dc22 2010011649













D E S I G N B Y Sara E. Stemen


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10 18 24 32 38 46 52 58 64 72 80 86 96 104 110 116

Thomas C. Achille Charles Allem Penny Drue Baird Bruce Bierman Samuel Botero Leonard Braunschweiger Ronald Bricke Clodagh Carl D’Aquino Jamie Drake Mary Douglas Drysdale David Easton William R. Eubanks Charles Faudree Glenn Gissler Darren Henault

122 130 138 146 152 158 164 170 176 182 188 194 202 208 216 224

Jiun Ho Terry Hunziker Thomas Jayne Robert Ledingham Edward Lobrano Suzanne Lovell Robin McGarry Juan Montoya Matthew Patrick Smyth Stedila Design Stephanie Stokes Suzanne Tucker Irwin Weiner Bunny Williams Paul Vincent Wiseman Vicente Wolf

230 232 252 253 254 255 256

Purchasing and Care Essentials Gallery Glossary Further Reading Acknowledgments Photography Credits About the Author



As long as mankind inhabits this earth, there will always be demand for beautiful things to enrich our lives and make living a more exciting and passionate experience. As our environments become depersonalized on the outside, the more romantic and personal they have to become on the inside. Home is our haven and must reflect the qualities that enhance our being during periods of relaxation and rest. At last a long overdue book on decorative carpets has appeared on the scene. This book expresses what has been so difficult to get clients to visualize—rugs situated in decorated rooms rather than just piled up in showrooms. By exhibiting the works of some of today’s most prestigious designers, we are able to see in situ the importance of the rug and its prominence in a room’s setting. Whether we start the decorating process with the carpet or introduce it later, it will always be a room’s focal point. This book represents an entirely new approach to looking at rugs in interiors and helps the eye see what it is possible to accomplish in an interior setting. The inspired designs that inhabit these pages are a glowing tribute to the talents of the carpet weavers and interior designers who enable a space to become a home. You, the reader, are able to see how important the rug is to an interior and how its placement is essential to the harmony and flow of the rooms. The numerous designs here are eclectic, sometimes quirky, and are occasionally formal, elegant, and rich in cultural heritage. The imagination takes over.

It is important to remember that upon entering any space, the eye starts at the floor and rises from that point. The floor and its covering immediately establish a mood that is then enhanced by the designer, who selects fabrics and furnishings that will perpetuate the atmosphere created by the rug. The beautiful images in this book help show the reader how the impact of the carpet and its placement can make a tremendous difference in the perception of an interior. The carpet can almost appear as a painting on the floor and can stimulate all that comes after, but the decorative use of carpets has never been fully explored as a topic and for that reason, this book fills a very important void. It will prove to be of enormous help to clients, designers, and individuals interested in rugs alike because the settings put forth are so varied. The tactile senses assume a major role when dealing with any form of textile. Whether the eye, the hand, or the foot is used to experience a carpet, the sensual nature of it comes to the fore. Allowing the eye to become captivated by a pattern, reaching down to touch a rug from a seated position, or walking barefoot on one, the sudden contact is exciting. The character of the space in question is defined. The room suddenly becomes a unified entity and The Decorative Carpet brings that to us in a most visually passionate way. It is not at all surprising that Edgar Allan Poe in his famous quote, “The soul of the apartment is the carpet,” sums this up for us so poetically.


Thomas C. Achille
“Oriental and decorative rugs have fascinated me ever since I was a child,” says Thomas C. Achille, who was captivated by their exotic allure at a very early age. Today, his interior design practice specializes in custom luxury yachts in addition to residential and commercial projects. “There is nothing comparable to handmade rugs,” he continues. “Their texture, color, and the thickness of their threads make them special. A machinemade rug can’t approach their quality no matter how hard it may try.”
Renowned for creating interiors that fuse the contemporary with the classic, Achille often sources fine antique furniture for his clients, along with antique rugs. “I shop for antiques because nothing touches their integrity,” he comments. When hunting for a carpet, he generally seeks a minimalist, toned-down palette that will complement a modern monochromatic look. By far, he favors antique muted Oushaks for their purity and simplicity in color and design. Sultanabads, Tabrizes, Savonneries, and Aubussons follow closely behind. Early in his career, in the 1970s, he was noted for being among the first to incorporate kilims into interiors. Now he uses these strongly graphic flatweaves like fabric—using them on furniture like upholstery and as bed covers, very much the way they were used historically, instead of only on the floor. When a new rug is called for in a project, he will turn to a needlepoint or Tibetan rather than to a reproduction of an antique oriental rug. Rugs find themselves primarily in Achille’s living rooms, dining rooms, libraries, and master bedrooms. Generally, he prefers placing one room-sized rug in a space rather than several smaller pieces. He says emphatically, “Let the carpet be the star!” To his mind, all other elements in a room should play off the carpet, including fabrics. A passionate advocate of pure monochromatics as opposed to pattern over pattern, he also likes the texture of the fabrics to emulate the rug whenever possible, and would choose a nubby silk to go with a coarse Oushak as opposed to a smoother silk, for example. “The carpet sets the tone,” he states. “Decorating around a rug is so incredibly easy—I hope my clients don’t find out how simple it really is!” Achille’s most memorable carpet project involved the $175,000 purchase of a “drop-dead Oushak” for the main salon of a 350-foot-long private yacht. His team was informed that the rug would have to be secured to the parquet floor to keep it stationary as the vessel pitched in the water, however. “We didn’t think about that when we bought the rug,” recollects the designer. Screws and brackets were carefully threaded through the weave without creating any holes, and the rug, which also inspired the entire yacht’s color scheme, is still in perfect shape today. “Rugs are timeless classics,” concludes Achille. “There is nothing like one to give a room personality and soul. Each is a work of art that will last thanks to its aesthetic and intrinsic value.”

An ivory-ground Sultanabad-design rug featuring an all-over organic floral design with punches of blue and coral beckons the visitor into this airy Los Angeles solarium. A second Sultanabad anchors the far end of the room.



Bold, dark hues introduced by the piano and the modern art in this Beverly Hills music room are offset by the subtle hues of the early-twentieth-century, ivory-ground Turkish Oushak and its delicately drawn floral pattern. The rug invites the visitor to proceed toward the adjoining kitchen, where an Oushak with similar attributes is displayed. Golds and creams in this Aubusson rug, inspired by a classic French design, are also picked up in the


elegant curtains and contrast well with the saturated coral hues of the other fabrics in this formal drawing room.


T H O M A S C . AC H I L L E

Bruce Bierman
For Bruce Bierman, the warmth of a handmade rug offers a much needed respite from the uniformity of our cold technological surroundings. Trained in architecture and the fine arts, he is acutely sensitive to the importance of considering every surface in a room’s design— including the floor. “Every job of mine has a rug,” states the renowned Manhattan-based designer. “When selecting a piece, whether antique or new, I take my cue from the architectural space.” Long before being “green” was in fashion, Bierman was drawn to rugs’ natural materials for their durability and overall aesthetics. Of the many styles of rug he has used throughout the years, his favorites include soft-toned Tabrizes and Agras, more formal Aubussons, needlepoints, and contemporary Tibetans, both monochromatic and pat“Always start the room with the rug—it sets the tone,” insists the designer, whose rooms often feature one single, roomsized rug to keep the look clean and simple. “Rugs are so spectacular that I like them to stand alone in the room unobstructed by competing fabric or wall patterns.” While he favors monochromatic textured linens, leathers, and silks over patterned fabrics, he also warns against deliberately matching rugs with other elements in the room because it will seem too contrived. Sometimes, he likes to create the unexpected as, for instance, when he chose a very formal, bold, red Aubusson needlepoint-design rug with a traditional central medallion motif for his own contemporary loft. Bierman freely mixes different kinds of rugs from room to room in the same project. The unifying theme may not necessarily be the design of the rugs themselves but other elements in the space, such as wall color. In one project, he placed Aubussons in the entrance hall, living room, and dining room, a needlepoint in the


family room, and contemporary Tibetans in the library and media room. The designer works to make choosing carpets a painless process for his clients; he has found that the key is to properly educate them with shopping expeditions—where they can see rugs and get a feel for the market—followed by in-home trials. “People are often initially distrustful and afraid of the rug selection process. They have no gauge of their worth and are unfamiliar with their foreign names,” he explains. When dealing with a challenging space, the designer’s approach is also practical and methodical: he plots the furniture placement over a photograph of the rug to determine the size needed and to minimize any potential surprises for the client. Bierman has also found that the increased incidence of allergies, including asthma, has triggered a downward trend for wall-to-wall carpeting in favor of area rugs. “I can’t imagine that rugs will ever go out of fashion,” he states.

An Aubusson-design needlepoint featuring an oval, Louis XVI style medallion radiates in this Florida living room. Ocean-blue accents picked up in the throw pillows make a crisp contrast with its clean ivory ground and touches of sandcolored hues in the borders, transporting this traditional European rug smoothly to a contemporary home in the tropics.


Jamie Drake
“I’m known for my passion for color, and rugs are a wonderful place to begin a color scheme,” states Jamie Drake, whose clients include Madonna and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Even in the 1970s, when clients with minimalist interiors only wanted them as accent pieces, Drake has always included rugs in his designs, and they have become an ever-more important component of his work.
Regardless of genre or age, Drake is drawn to high-end rugs and avoids those that “mimic what is hugely prevalent in the market.” More specifically, he continues: “In antiques, I love everything from Savonneries, Aubussons, and Axminsters to Sultanabads and Isfahans, with a personal preference for all-over designs versus central medallion.” His passion for Tibetans and other high-end new rugs, however, led him to the creation of his contemporary Jamie Drake Collection for Safavieh. “Ideally,” notes the designer, “I like to start with the rug but many times I end up doing it backwards and coming up with a fabulous rug anyway.” He always advocates anchoring a space with a single room-sized piece rather than a variety of smaller, scattered rugs, which he finds create a “somewhat dated look as well as visual confusion.” Also, using one impressive, striking rug goes handin-hand with creating his characteristically bold look. Drake’s talent for integrating strong, vibrant colors into many genres and periods defines his signature style. Color, including the myriad hues found in oriental and decorative rugs, serves as the uniting element in the designer’s eclectic work, which fuses the traditional with the contemporary. He extracts a base tone from each rug that is echoed throughout a room and accented with other hues. Drake enjoys placing rugs of different genres throughout a project. While pattern plays a role in his selection, color is the dominant consideration that he uses to connect one rug with another. If a living room rug’s field color is green and its border red, for example, an adjoining library’s rug field color could be red, its border green. More important, the respective tonalities of the floor and rug must be in sync with each other. A rug with deep, saturated colors looks best over a rich, dark floor and vice versa. Drake has even been known to adjust a floor’s finish to best enhance a rug’s beauty. Rugs played an essential role in Drake’s renovation of early-nineteenth-century Gracie Mansion, New York’s official mayoral residence, in 2002. He easily found rugs for every room except the State Sitting Room, which was hung with a bold floral wallpaper. The Drake design staff went into overdrive frantically combing the entire rug market in search of this elusive carpet. Drake rejected over two dozen pieces, and the room remained unfinished only three days before the installation. Just hours before his deadline, however, the ideal rug materialized. An antique Turkish Oushak exhibiting an olive green field with accent details of camel and cream played perfectly off the colors in the wallpaper’s complex design and pulled the whole room together.

Intense blues and greens drawn from this early–twentieth-century Persian Mahal’s secondary colors are the inspiration for the walls, window treatments, and upholstered fabrics of this formal room, helping to incorporate the historic piece smoothly into a fresh and up-to-date décor.


David Easton
After the architecture and the mantelpiece, the carpet is the most important decorative element in a space according to David Easton, the neoclassic designer whose interiors exude a sophisticated traditional aesthetic. “One needs to start with the rug,” he states. “How can you make any other decision in the room, including the choice of sofa fabric, without it?” Easton professes a reverence for handmade rugs that is rooted in their handcrafted quality and their deep-seated ancient traditions. For him, there is an almost sacred quality about rugs that simply cannot be replicated by machines. “It’s like having a painting on the floor. It affects everything else in the room,” he notes.
For Easton the search for the perfect rug has taken him to the four corners of the globe—from Madeira to Istanbul, Bhutan, and onto the Silk Road. “The pursuit of the carpet is a wonderful travelogue in itself,” he says. The thrill of seeing rugs being washed in a river in Isfahan, in Iran, and hand-knotted in Bucharest is, to him, as wonderful as seeing the actual end product. Some of his clients have been fortunate enough to travel with him, deepening their appreciation for the art form. Selecting the right rug for a space is all about establishing harmony with the rest of a room to Easton, who was originally trained as an architect. “It’s like music—the mixture of subtle colors and textures should be harmonious,” he remarks. In his thirty-year career, he has used a wealth of rugs, from Savonneries, Portuguese needlepoints, and Persian Sultanabads to Scandinavian rya rugs and Tibetans. Regardless of provenance, style, or period, a well-crafted rug must, to Easton, feature a thin, ribbed, textured quality, typically characteristic of worn, older pieces that suggests what he calls “a grace of age.” He states with characteristic candor: “I do not like the cut pile look!” Regardless of the type, the designer advises: “Never buy a rug that is too sharp in color. It should blend into the totality of the room and the scale of its pattern must be in proportion to that of the room.” If a rug that catches his eye is slightly off in size, however, he admits, “I would still buy it, if I really loved it!” Easton’s dislike for wall-to-wall carpeting leads him to use handmade rugs in every room, except for kitchens. He prefers to place rugs directly on wood floors, but he will also lay them over sustainable sisal carpeting, particularly in bedrooms, to bestow a special handcrafted aura on a space.

A French Savonnerie dating to the turn of the nineteenth century exhibits a series of concentric oval and circular medallions ornamented with floral wreaths and motifs. Its brilliant yellow is the foundation for the entire color scheme of this lavish bedroom.



Hints of gold drawn from the large cabbage rose pattern adorning this Portuguese needlepoint are the genesis for bright walls that set this sumptuous drawing room aglow.


An English Axminster carpet dating from the turn of the nineteenth century and exhibiting a large, central floral medallion is the perfect complement to finely detailed boiseries in this genteel dining room.





The former capital of India’s Mogul Empire (1526–1857) and home to the Taj Mahal, the city of Agra became a carpet weaving center during the golden age of Mogul art and was particularly active under Akbar the Great (1556–1605); although there are no surviving documented examples, Agras from that period are believed to have featured characteristic Mogul designs—a combination of Persian Sefavid and Timurid elements (relating to Tamerlane and exhibiting a blend of Near and Far Eastern sources). Under British occupation in the nineteenth century, carpet weaving experienced a revival, although pieces were generated mainly under the control of foreign-owned firms and destined for export to Great Britain and the West. A number of pieces, known as “jail rugs,” were woven by prison inmates here and throughout India. Unlike their Persian and Turkish counterparts, Agras and most other Indian rugs do not vary in technique or design from one region to the next. Hence “Agra” has become a generic market term for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century room-sized rugs from India, and indicates no specific provenance. Many designs are inspired by classic seventeenth-century Persian Sefavid rugs and Mogul rugs, which include all-over angular designs with scrolling leaves, ogival latticing, vines, and large, finely detailed flowers. Greens, blues, and burgundies on an ivory field are often featured. Most antique Agras on today’s market date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Generally viewed by rug scholars as poor copies of their purer Persian counterparts, they are nevertheless prized in the decorative market for their dense weave, classic designs, and unusual hues. Agra continues to be an active weaving center and its antique carpets are a source of design inspiration for many of the region’s new rugs, which are executed in a full range of qualities.

Agra, India, mid-nineteenth century 11ft. 10in. by 16ft. 3in.

Agra, India, circa 1890 10ft. 2in. by 13ft. 5in.

Agra, India, circa 1900 10ft. 10in. by 11ft. 7in.

Agra, India, circa 1920 11ft. 6in. by 14ft. 8in.

New Agra-design rug, Romania

New Agra-design rug, India



Until the 1850s, the Indian rug industry suffered a period of decline triggered by the waning of India’s Mogul empire (1526– 1857) in the eighteenth century. Spurred by strong European demand, a talented pool of local labor, and access to good-quality wool, the city of Amritsar in northwestern India, previously devoted to shawl manufacturing, became the most important weaving center in India throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, reportedly employing 15,000 to 20,000 men and boys. In 1906, Amritsars won international recognition at the Indian Art Exhibition in Delhi. Produced for export in British- and foreign-run factories, Amritsars were woven in a variety of designs to please their foreign customers. These include geometric Turkoman (Central Asian) and classic Indian Mogul–inspired patterns exhibiting naturalistic floral motifs (e.g., millefleurs designs), and non-Indian elements such as the cloudband. Pictorial carpets display local fauna and wild animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, hyenas, and cheetahs. Amritsars also display Persian-inspired floral motifs, namely all-over floral, medallion, and corner designs and stylized village patterns such as those seen in Heriz rugs. Subdued “off colors” including mauves, burgundies, light blues, teals, and yellows distinguish these Indian rugs from their Persian counterparts. Production suffered during the Great Depression of the 1930s and following the partition of 1947, which drove many Muslim weavers to emigrate to Pakistan. Since then, the industry has recovered with an influx of new weavers, including local women and Tibetan immigrants.

Amritsar, northwest India, circa 1880 13ft. 7in. by 25ft. 10in.

Amritsar, northwest India, circa 1910 14ft. 6in. by 17ft.

Amritsar, northwest India, circa 1910 9ft. 10in. by 13ft. 8in.

Amritsar, northwest India, circa 1910 11ft. by 16ft. 8in.

Amritsar, northwest India, early twentieth century 13ft. 10in. by 15ft.

Amritsar, northwest India, early twentieth century 12ft. 10in. by 17ft. 8in.



To purchase a copy of

The Decorative Carpet
visit one of these online retailers: