Weaving Ancient Craft into Contemporary Design with The Rug Company
When you think of the leading name in the industry setting the golden standard for handmade contemporary rugs, you think of The Rug Company, founded in 1997 by Christopher and Suzanne Sharp. Born out of a passion for craftsmanship and white-glove service, The Rug Company is dedicated to the traditional rug making craft, adhering to the heritage and methods of various regions while providing in-house expert service to interior designers and clients in search of a quality rug.
The Rug Company Co-Founder, Christopher Sharp, takes us on a journey to explore the authentic production process from spinning to knotting, advantages of The Rug Company Custom and Bespoke Services, and long lasting relationship with craftspeople.
In 140 characters or less, what is The Rug Company all about?
The Rug Company was founded in 1997 with the aim of creating the most beautiful rugs in the world. The concept was simple, but unique: to combine the ancient craft of rug-making with the best contemporary design.
How is The Rug Company different from the thousands of other rug showrooms offering consultation, sourcing and buying experiences?
Every piece at The Rug Company has been crafted by hand in the same way that it has been for many centuries, except to this rich tradition we have added the best designs for our contemporary world. Each part of the process is done by hand, ensuring the highest levels of quality and durability.
We are obsessive about good design, always striving to innovate and inspire with our in-house and designer collections. We collaborate with some of the world’s most inspirational designers, each a creative leader in their domain, including Paul Smith, Diane von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Kelly Wearstler.
We are always pushing ourselves to create rugs unlike any seen before. We consider ourselves lucky to work with visionary designers and highly skilled artisans who embrace the challenges their designs represent.
The Rug Company was founded on principles of good service, which we uphold resolutely. Our Custom and Bespoke Service allows you to create any rug you desire, whilst our Home Consultation and Approval Service ensures you never make the wrong decision.
The test of good design is how it looks on reflection after a number of years.
As the home essentials and design industry evolves over time, how does The Rug Company continue to innovate and stay current?
We are constantly striving to innovate. We collect design, not designers; we are always looking for designers who offer a point of view that our collections do not currently express. We want to produce rugs that become iconic pieces. Rugs that will be collected in the future. The test of good design is how it looks on reflection after a number of years; our rugs are made to last for hundreds of years, so the designs need to be strong enough to last equally long. We’ve been working with some of our designers for a while and they get better at understanding the medium, which makes the process both more enjoyable and more aesthetically successful.
How exactly does The Rug Company produce and source the finest rugs in the world?
The majority of the weaving of our rugs is done in Nepal, although we do a small amount of work in other countries too. There are many reasons why weaving our rugs in Nepal works so well. We have built a wonderful relationship with the craftspeople who contribute to the production. Every rug will have many different people involved in its production, each with their own unique skill, from the spinners of the wool, to the Dye Master, to the people who weave the thousands of individual knots that collectively make the up the finished piece.
Because we have been working with the same people for so long, we understand each other and mistakes and misunderstandings are rare, it’s a relationship built on a common respect. We would not have a product without them and they need our understanding of design to have a market for the rugs they weave.
Different regions employ different knotting techniques. In Nepal they use the Tibetan Knot, which is a relatively quick way of weaving a rug. Typically it takes four months for us to make a rug, it sounds like a long time but in the world of hand knotted rugs it’s fast. If we were weaving the rugs in Iran, it would take considerably longer.
We truly understand the unique heritage and significance of traditional rug artisanship. Our weavers in Nepal continue to craft the rugs by hand using the finest natural materials and handle them with such care that they lose none of their extraordinary properties throughout the production process. Our hand knotted rugs can be cleaned and repaired almost indefinitely. The result is a rug that is a unique piece of art and made to last a lifetime.
What are the key raw materials that make a rug a fine rug?
It is essential that the materials are the best. We get our wool from the Tibetan Plateau where the sheep graze at extremely high altitudes and the wool is full of natural oil (lanolin). If you treat the wool with respect during the weaving process, this oil will actually help protect the finished rug for the duration of its life, which could be, literally, hundreds of years. We also work with luxurious silk to add luster and enrich color, as well as mohair and merino wool for ultimate comfort or bamboo silk for shine at a lower price. Attention to detail is very important, we want to do everything well.
How does The Rug Company online sourcing and buying experience differ from your showroom experience? What do your customers seem to prefer?
Our showrooms are built not only to showcase our rugs but also to inspire and welcome visitors. We have a dedicated, expert sales team that is on hand to help guide customers through our many designs. With a wealth of experience, they can advise on the best rug for a particular space, or guide through a custom or bespoke project.
We have a remarkable range of rugs in a number of sizes, as well as cushions and wallhangings in stock. We have also recently developed an online tool to allow instant customization of our rugs. The Custom Rug Designer can be used in store, and interior designers and architects can register to use it on our website at any time.
What are your best-selling collections and styles?
It varies depending on the market, however we have a few designs which are always very popular. Paul Smith’s Swirl is one of them, it has become iconic. Some of the most popular designs are our statement rugs which are colorful and patterned, but equally popular are the quieter designs with a classical pattern and neutral palette.
Who are some U.S. rug installers you recommend and trust?
Where possible we deliver and install all our rugs ourselves, fitting with appropriate underlay and offering advice on how to care for them. Our Home Consultation and Approval Service ensures you never make the wrong decision.
How does The Rug Company typically work with interior designers?
We work on a daily basis with many interior designers and architects. We want to help them find the perfect rug for their client and are very proud of the level of service we offer to achieve this. We stock a remarkable range of rugs in a number of sizes, however we understand that sometimes a space requires something unique and we encourage our clients to make the most of our Custom Service and Bespoke Service to alter them until they are exactly what they need, or to commission an entirely new design. Every aspect of a rug can be tailored to suit an interior scheme: colors can be altered, materials can be switched and patterns can be up or downscaled. There are thousands of shades of color to choose from, or we can match a sample if our clients have something specific in mind. Designs can be fashioned into runners, ovals, circles, squares and more. Throughout the process we will show them renderings of the proposed design in situ, and may make a small sample to check the new colors or materials.
What are some key factors an interior designer should consider when searching for a rug?
Tips by Suzanne Sharp, Creative Director and Co-Founder of The Rug Company:
Always opt for a good quality handmade rug wherever possible because not only do they look better, they will also last a lifetime and can be cleaned indefinitely.
Don’t be afraid of color and pattern, but choose a rug as you would a piece of art.
Where possible, always try to see the rug in situ before purchasing it; a rug can look completely different at home from how it did in the shop, and different lighting can change it dramatically.
In our experience, it does not really matter whether you choose the rug first or last. The sales team is always on hand to give advice and choose the perfect rug for the space. It’s easy to customize any of our designs to suit a certain decorating scheme. Equally, our clients sometimes fall in love with a statement rug and then design the rest of the room around it.
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