Walk all over it or hang it on the wall – the abstract rug has become a work of art.
Not all of Australia’s most arresting designs are on international catwalks. Some are underfoot. Rugs have become scene-stealing artworks in their own right, reflecting everything from strict minimalism to opulent excess, proving that when you want to make an impression, it’s smart to start from the ground up. It’s an area finding favour with couturiers and more traditional rug makers.
The Designer Rugs company, started in 1986 by Israeli migrants Eli Tal and his son, Yosi, has developed a reputation for collaborating with leading artists from the world of fashion and fine art. It has launched a collection of exclusive designs by Akira Isogawa (abstract cherry blossom, from $4990), Dinosaur Designs (bold graphics and candy colours, from $3390) and Vixen (a signature style of layers and textures, from $2856). For her collection, fabric designer Julie Patterson, whose Cloth label has its own following, emphasised organic shapes based on native plants (from $2350). Rugs created by the design duo behind Sydney company Blueandbrown were inspired by the urban geometry of Milton Glaser graphics and the optical illusions observed in rockpools on the Australian coastline (from $2856). There is also a range based on an interpretation of Aboriginal paintings by the late Minnie Pwerle (limited-edition rugs from $7950), who gained prominence with her exuberant and colourful brushwork. Early next year, Brisbane-based fashion duo Easton Pearson will also release a rug collection.
Creating your own custom rug takes up to three months, using premium-quality New Zealand wool and pure silk for extra lustre. While some pieces are woven in Australia, most are created in Thailand or Nepal. Designer Rugs clientele includes many of Australia’s luxury resorts – next time you go barefoot at Bunker Bay in Western Australia, or at Quay West Magenta Shores in NSW, you’re probably stepping on a Designer Rugs creation on your way to beach or pool.
More than 25 years in the business, rug trade doyenne Robyn Cosgrove specialises in contemporary designs (from $3500). Looking for dramatic effect and maximum impact, Cosgrove designs some pieces herself and showcases the work of New York designer Stephanie Odegard (from $19,500). She also has a range that pays tribute to the lines and curves of modernist Bauhaus style for those with a more retro look.
Cosgrove says the current trend is for “thin, dense rugs that are heavy, but fluid enough to wrap yourself in. Clients are requesting silk inlay accents because silk adds lustre and light and feels great underfoot. Colours are subtle neutrals rather than attention-seeking shazzam. You don’t want a rug to dominate a space,” she says.
Cosgrove is adamant that the best way to decorate a room is to start from the floor. “The rug is the foundation. Ideally, you select your furnishing fabrics and furniture around it. And a good rug, that is well made in terms of materials, dyes, density of knotting, will last at least a couple of lifetimes. The best ones mature with age.”
Best known for its selection of handwoven Persian and Oriental rugs, the Cadry family is moving with the times. In response to the tastes of a younger clientele, Cadrys is selling new designs by inter-national artists, featuring strong lines and subtle colours.
The Florence Broadhurst wallpapers that have enjoyed a recent revival are now also spawning a range of rugs by Cadrys, which will launch in November. Working closely with the Broadhurst design library at Signature Prints, Cadrys is creating a collection of hand-knotted rugs that capture the Broadhurst flair for bright colour and big, bold patterns (from $2950).
Nina Danko designs for the SnowRugs Gallery (from $2500) and her own label, Danko Designs, creating motifs based on organic patterns in nature, from bamboo to the oceanic ripples. She draws her inspiration from an eclectic range of cultures, including her own Russian heritage, as well as Mexican and Tibetan iconography.
At Customweave Carpets + Rugs, designer Katherine Power introduces unorthodox materials into the mix, adding detailing in leather, wood and even glass to her concepts (from $350/sq m). They need to be treated with care and are not designed for heavy traffic or young families. In fact, for rugs to give enduring pleasure both visually and underfoot, owners should ideally borrow the now fashionable ecological mantra “tread lightly upon the earth”. It feels even better if you slip off your shoes first.
Australian rug dealers
133 New South Head Road, Edgecliff, Sydney, New South Wales.
+61 2 9328 6144.
498 Glenmore Road, Edgecliff, Sydney.
+61 2 9328 9188.
Customweave Carpets + Rugs
88 Dynon Road, West Melbourne, Victoria.
+61 3 9376 6622.
509 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, New South Wales.
+61 2 9550 9933.
100 New South Head Road, Edgecliff, Sydney, New South Wales.
+61 2 9328 4111.
925 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland.
+61 7 3852 6433.
130-138 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria.
+61 3 9534 0660.
Robyn Cosgrove Rugs
168 Queen Street, Woollahra, Sydney, New South Wales.
+61 2 9328 7692.
Unit 2/3 Hayes Road, Rosebery, Sydney, New South Wales.
+61 2 8338 8400.
241 Narone Creek Road, Wollombi, New South Wales.
+61 2 4998 3276.
Source: Qantas The Australian Way August 2008