Rugs, amongst the most traditional and functional elements of home décor, should be as beautiful to touch as they are to look at. Taking time to explore the continuum of origin, design complexity, colour, materials and weave may well be useful to help you through both the search and decision making processes. Bob Cadry
When I think about rugs I picture countless stacks of varying size, colour and design complexity and frankly this ALWAYS leads me to call on the help of an expert – not just for knowledge to work through the expanse of options – but more specifically because I’ve come to learn that the best rug for any space is often a very surprising choice. So when it comes to this kind of significant creative decision, I’m of the belief that collaboration is always the best approach. That being the case my first point of call is Cadrys. The Cadry family, celebrating 60 years in business this year, are the proprietors of Sydney’s first Persian-owned Persian carpet business - a landmark at the corner of New South Head Road and Glenmore Road, Paddington.
Starting at the beginning I’ve learnt that rugs can be roughly divided into those that are ‘flat weave’ and those that are ‘hand-knotted’:
Hand-knotted rugs take the longest time to make, hence they can be amongst the most expensive types of rugs (and as I’ve heard from those in-the-know “what you buy is on the front, what you pay for is on the back!”). To make a quality hand-knotted rug, the weaver loops wool or silk around the warps, one at a time, creating a thick pile. Then, cotton yarn is woven through the warps to hold them together. The cotton yarns are usually tied off to make a decorative fringe.
Flat Weave refers to rugs without pile or knots. Flat weave rugs are made on a loom where the rug-making material is threaded through the warps. Examples include Kilims and Dhurries.
(Both flat and pile or knotted carpets are created on a frame called a loom. The weft, often made of jute, is the horizontal thread on a loom and the warp, often made of cotton, is the vertical thread that weaves its way across the weft).
Rug weaving is an ancient art essentially evolved from man’s need to create comfort – moving on from the use of animal hides for both clothing and ground coverage. It was essentially the practice of basket weaving that inspired the weaving process which still today forms the basis of the highest quality approach to rug creation. The art of rug weaving evolved across the silk road over thousands of years. Linking Europe and Asia (Rome, Egypt, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Java-Indonesia, Vietnam and China) the silk road was essentially a trade route and home to countless nomadic and tribal communities. Each community or group had their own identifying visual hallmarks. These are as meaningful and evident today as they were thousands of years ago.
A look at the complexity of the design, symbolism, colour schemes and weave texture provides the basis for classification, more specifically rugs can be identified as follows:
Islamic Rugs (from Iran, Persia, Turkey and Afghanistan) are renowned for bright colours and elaborate designs that usually fall into one of three general design categories: geometric, floral or pictorial. Persian rugs vary in design and colour depending on where they originate - city, rural village or a tribe.
Oriental Rugs (originally from China), like Persian rugs are handmade flat weave or pile knotted with decorative motifs traditionally specific to the orient or eastern region.
Contemporary or Transitional Rugs (from anywhere really) bright colours and unusual shapes are common characteristics of contemporary rugs. Or, it could be a one-of-a-kind design based on an artistic whim, limited only by the designer or rug maker’s imagination.
To select the rugs that work to meet your requirements, Bob advises you first take into account the function requirements of the rug:
- where will it be placed?
- what will it be used for? (colour, texture, warmth, space definition)
From there it is important to develop a visual sense of what will meet your practical, budget and aesthetic needs. Considerations will include:
The size of the rug will then be your next decision (as below), For our interstate and country clients MM and I ask that newspaper be layed on the floor to mark the specified parametres as both a guide and for functional concerns.
With these elements checked you are best informed to collaboratively start peeling back the layers of the various stacks in store. Short list your options and ensure you’re able to view your preferences at home ‘on approval’, because it is only within your home that you will officially be able to determine how the rugs work with:
- natural light
- room colour
- floor size
When decorating with rugs, size and placement of the rug will be the most important things to consider. Rugs are often used to highlight something else in the room, such as a sofa, bed or fireplace and the decorative directions will depend essentially on the specific function of the space:
Lounge Rooms / Under Sofas: it is a well-accepted look to have the front legs of a sofa on a rug and the back legs on hardwood flooring or on wall-to-wall carpeting, though it is in keeping with tradition to have the entire of all room sofas placed off the rug completely. Having the front and back legs of a sofa on a rug is usually not a good idea, unless, of course, the rug is a room-sized rug.
Dining Table: to determine what size rug should be placed in a dining room, measure the foot print of the dining table and allow enough space for a person to get in and out of the chair and to move closer to the table or move back from the table while the back legs of the chair are able to remain on the rug.
Bedroom: when a large rug is used in a bedroom, the rug does not need to be centered, but it should have the same amount of floor space on two or three sides of the bed.
(nb: underlay should be used under all rugs no matter where the rugs are placed… on wall-to-wall carpeting or on bare floors. This is because rugs wear out from the bottom, caused by friction when the rug is walked on)
I love everything about the Cadry family story, in particular I appreciate the efforts that have resulted from the guiding belief of since passed patriarch Jacques Cadry that “Carpet weaving is, unfortunately, the privilege of poor countries”. He was so concerned about the plight of child slave weavers he worked to devise a scheme which would see each carpet sold throughout the world carry an impost to help wipe out the practice. A cause the Cadry family is still committed to today.
Sitting on a pile of antique rugs drinking Persian tea, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Wednesday morning – thank you Bob. You can visit Cadrys online: www.cadrys.com.au
Rennae Long (twitter.com/@int_insider)