Posts Tagged ‘rugs’

Travel Inspiration from Turkey

Monday, November 19th, 2012

At the end of September I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to explore and become inspired.  The people, architecture, patterns and colors will forever leave a mark on my designs.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

The view looking towards Sultanahmet.

Beautifully detail roof at dusk.

Interior view of the Blue Mosque…stunning.

Inside the Aya Sofya.

Ceiling detail of the Aya Sofya

Brightly colored ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar.

Shopping for textiles.

The runner that came home with us!  It’s from Dhoku and made from recycled rugs that have been patched together.

A metal shop within the Bazaar.

Inspiration at the Met

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

After being closed for a 8 year renovation, Giang and I recently visited the new Islamic wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  I was so inspired by all the patterns, rugs and colors that I wanted to share with you.  I was amazed that the design could easily be incorporated in today’s environments.  They are truly timeless.  I’ve added notes where I took down the details but it was mostly a visual wonderland.  I highly recommend visiting if you make it to the museum because pictures, especially from an iphone, don’t do it justice.  Hope you enjoy!


There were many rugs and textiles.  Most all of the designs would work in today’s interiors and even fabrics of the fashion world.  The rug below incorporated the flame-stitch that is so popular these days.

Detail of the corner.

This was by far my favorite rug.  Called the “Simonetti” carpet and dated 1250-1517.  It’s one of the largest Mamluk rugs, having five medallions instead of the usual 1-3.  The colors were muted yet vibrant and woven in wool.  Thought about rolling it up and “hiding” it behind me to take as a souvenir.

The center medallion.

Detail of the end medallion.  What you can’t see and I just couldn’t get good pictures of, is the amazing carved wood ceiling above this rug.

Beautiful red tapestries and fabrics.  Such amazing designs!




This is a very old ikat pattern, dated 909-1171.  I absolutely love the colors in this linen and silk shawl remnant.

And now on to pottery and tiles.  These Raqqa ware pieces have a vibrant, glowing turquoise and black design.   Pretty stunning considering their age (12th century).  The artists used a technique of painting directly on the stonepaste with a stable chromium-black pigment.  The turquoise is often alkaline which prevented the underglaze from running.

Notice how the glaze doesn’t completely cover the bottom.  Whether it was on purpose or not, I find it unexpected and like seeing the clay body exposed.

A bowl with little fish on the bottom.

Now a little architectural detailing.  The Met hired and housed craftsmen form Fez to build and carve this small room.  The detailing that is achieved blows my mind.  Next to the room, they had a video showing how the carving is done.  Essentially the build up a thick layer of plaster, tap a stencil design onto the wet base and then start carving away with little knives.  I forget how long it took to do this room…

The picture below is courtesy of the Met Museum.

A detail shot of one of the arches.

Below is a door with very intricate carvings and inlays.  Old or new?  Look at the additional details…

This door is from Egypt, Cairo dated 1250-1517!  How incredible is that?  It is carved of rosewood, mulberry and other woods along with ebony and ivory.

If you want to read more about the wing there are several articles on the NYTimes and you can find additional pictures and info at The Metropolitan Museum of Art gallery section.


How to Buy a Quality Rug

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Have you ever wondered why a Persian rug costs an arm and a leg? Or what the difference is between a hand tufted versus hand knotted rug?  Here is some  information that we compiled to help you make an informed decision when buying a rug.  First off, there are three general types of rug construction:

Machine Made – done entirely by a machine called a power loom that is electrically automated.  Notice how uniform the loops are and how consistent the color is in the image below.  Another way to know if it’s machine made is by looking at the fringe.  If it is sewn or serged onto the rug (also seen below) it’s been machine made.  Hand knotted rugs use the warp threads that run through the entire rug to “create” the fringe.  Machine made is the least expensive of all rug construction types.

Hand Tufted – someone uses a “gun” that inserts the pile into a cloth foundation and therefore creates a loop pile or “knot”.  The back of a hand tufted rug (shown below) is usually covered with latex to hold the yarn in place then covered with a cloth backing.  It typically doesn’t have any fringe but can be sewn on.  See how they are  made.

Hand Knotted  or hand woven– someone ties each and every knot.  To be called a hand knotted oriental rug, it must be made of natural fibers (wools, cotton, silk), be woven entirely by hand, and of Asiatic origin such as Iran, India, Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal, Morocco etc.  Notice the slight changes in color and knot size in the image below.  The bit of white you see is the weft threads.  These will typically have fringe made from the cut warp threads.  Sometimes on more contemporary designs, the fringe has been “tucked” to make it more modern in appearance.


Value: A hand knotted 8×10 rug takes over six months to complete.  The quantity of time required to create the rug, the knot size, and pattern difficulty dictate the end cost of a rug. A rug in your home could have anywhere from 90 to 350 knots per square inch!  A well made, high quality hand knotted rug using fine wools, true color-fast dyes, and the most skillful hand-weaving techniques can last over four generations.  An oriental rug can be an investment that gains value over time.  After sixty years it is considered an antique oriental rug.

Differences between Persian and Turkish:  The main difference between Persian and Turkish rugs are the types of knots they use.  The knots used also define a broader region that uses that specific knot.  For example, Turkish rugs don’t come from just Turkey.  The knot that makes up the Turkish rugs are often used in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and more Eastern countries whereas the Persian knot is common in Pakistan, China, Nepal, Afghanistan, etc.  See this map (midway down) for more detail.

Content and why it matters (wear, style, etc). Silk, wool, nylon, etc.:  Silk is what gives oriental rugs that shimmer or sheen.  It is usually used in accent colors or intricate details in a rug.  A rug with high silk content will look shiny and should be used in a space with minimal traffic because silk is less durable than its wool and nylon counterparts.  For example, if you are doing a rug in an entry I’d avoid a rug with a high silk content.  Nylon is cheaper and will wear considerably well.  That being said, wool is used in higher-end rugs because it is extremely durable and a natural product.

If you want to really educate yourself, I recommend this site.  It’s from a rug company, Nejad, in Pennsylvania and is very thorough.  It has diagrams, stain tips and everything you could possibly need.  They did a great job of putting this info together, so enjoy!

Check out this fun picture we found on the Nejad site showing one of the largest looms – over 50 meters wide!  It is hard to fathom the size and complexity of weaving a rug of this size.

Fall Inspiration

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

It’s that time of year.  The leaves are changing to bright yellows, deep oranges and chocolaty browns.  Seeing the seasons change inspires new color palettes and makes me long for nesting indoors under lush blankets and fall scented candles.  Although I love Spring cleaning to freshen the house, I also love Fall where I can re-incorporate items to make the long winter as cozy as possible.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas and items to make that transformation.

Fall in Central Park

Coverlets – When the weather turns brisk, yet it’s too early to turn on the heat, adding a beautifully quilted coverlet will add just the right amount of warmth.  Look for a color to enliven your current sheets or duvet cover and you’ll get a new look. 

Textured Throw -Grab a great textured throw and add it to your living room for the cool nights ahead.  My favorite throws are the ones that look like a large crochet sweater. 

Pottery Barn Blankets

Candles – I unfortunately don’t have a fireplace so the next best thing is seeing the warm glow of candles around a room.  Placing several in clear cut glass reflects the light around the room.  My favorite scented candle is  “Holiday” from Ralph Lauren (thanks for the introduction Pat!).  It is one of the few candles that actually smell like the holidays without giving you a headache. 

Organized Entryway – Sounds simple but it’s not when you have a small space being invaded by gloves, hats, boots, umbrellas, dog leash…well you get the idea.  In the fall and winter it is imperative to have a well organized space to keep the wet mess and leaves from traveling further into your home.  Start with at mat outside the door, followed by an absorbing rug inside.  Find a functional furniture piece, like the one from Room & Board below,  that has drawers or a place to put cubbies to store all those items you want out of sight.  Make sure to have ample hooks nearby for all those coats and umbrellas.  I suggest picking up miscellaneous styles and arranging them in a creative way.  Ahhh, now you can relax!

roomandboard Hudson


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Do you know what Ikats are?  The response from someone who doesn’t like cats?  Those old school black-rimmed cat-like eye glasses?  Nope!  They are the bold graphic patterns you’ve been seeing everywhere from the dresses on the runway to designer fabrics and handbags.  They’re everywhere these days.  I’ve recently used the pattern on a project and it made me wonder what the history was behind them and why they’ve burst onto the runways and now into our homes.


The word Ikat (pronounced ee-kat) comes from a word in Malay meaning “to bind or wind around.”  Because of the intricate threads these fabrics didn’t last long therefore it is hard to know exactly where the Ikat weaving process originated.  Origins suggested are South America, Japan and India to name a few. 

Basically (okay the process is not basic) thousands of individual threads are wrapped together.  Once they are bound a dye-resistant material is applied to prevent coloration of the threads (think tie-dye style).   Additional colors can be added, after a thorough wash.  Once the desired colors and patterns are complete the threads are undone and tied to a loom.  It is at this point that the weaver decides on the pattern.  The coloring process is not accurate and that is why you get “fuzzy” designs that bleed into the other colors of the fabric.  
There are three types of Ikats:  warp Ikat, weft Ikat and double Ikat.  The simplest to construct is the warp Ikat. 
This is why I adore Ikats so much.  They are versatile.  They can be traditional, contemporary or eclectic depending on the colors and pattern size.  I’ve seen them in log cabins and most recently, Diane von Furstenberg used them in the rooms she designed for London’s Claridge hotel.  Check out the large purple Ikat on the sofa.   They can be bedding, drapery, shot of color on a pillow or even a gorgeous rug like the one below.  I’ve included a couple pictures that demonstrate their versatility. 
Ethos Ikat Rug 1196021_GE
Beautiful Ikat rug by Ethos made out of recycled vintage saris
Gucci Ikat Dress
A large patterned Ikat dress by Gucci

The Best of ICFF 2009

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Wow! I live in NYC and have more access to wonderful seminars and conferences. Most recently I attended the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). I wanted to share my excitement that I had after discovering some new products that are sure to make their way into my projects. There was one recurring theme I kep seeing; Felt. Watch for it showing up all around you. Here are some of my favorite products:

1. ABR’s Feel-Thru:: This product is made from felt (Green bonus: renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable) and comes in panels that hang from a ceiling track. The panels stay together when needed by strong magnets but come apart easily it you need to fold the screen back against a wall. They only come in one length but can be adjusted to meet your needs by adjusting the rod from the ceiling track.

Feel-Thru Panel

The dots design can be completely punched out or you can add back in some to create your own design (see below). How great!


2. Frank Fuzzy Paris:: This is so fun (can’t you tell by the name)!! This is for those of you that I keep trying to convince to do flocked wallpaper and you keep saying NO…this is the best compromise out there. It’s flocked decals that you can put on your walls and then remove them when you grow tired of it. Is it not beautiful!? See for yourself at

3. Nani Marquina Rugs:: These rugs are truly unique. Once again this product is made from felt. I can’t imagine this being a wise choice for anyone with a cat or dog, but it’s a very nice way to introduce some texture to a room. Check out the Little Field of Flowers to see what I’m talking about. Also, take a look at Global Warming with the iceberg and stand-up polar bear – yeah that little guy has no chance surviving my dog’s curiosity.

4. Clei:: Furniture that takes multi-tasking to a new level. I’ve seen this in action and it’s impressive. Here’s a quick video on it changing: Space Saving Furniture in Action

5. Jan Won Yoon:: Made out of wood, this barstool is so elegant and sleek.

Jan Won Yoon Blade Barstool