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Carpets for new age homes

 

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Traditional carpets are giving way to contemporary yet hand-knotted pieces that suit the modern homes. CORINNE KERK finds out how dealers are catering to the demand

Changing patterns: Consumers select carpets based on how well they suit their stylish homes rather than for investment value, as may be the case with classical carpets, says Mr Bagheri

Carpets for ‘new age’ homes

It used to be that carpets were regarded as little more than dust traps – unnecessary in our hot and humid climate and troublesome to clean and care for. But today, carpets are used to enhance the aesthetics of many a home. Consumers are looking beyond traditional – or classical – carpets with busy designs to more clean-cut, contemporary ones, including made-to-order pieces.
Unlike mass-produced, machine-made carpets, these special varieties are still hand-knotted in countries such as Iran, Nepal, India and Afghanistan.
Carpet merchants, such as The Orientalist Singapore which is seeing growing demand for contemporary carpets, say pieces are selected based on how well they suit the interiors of today’s stylish, modern homes and offices, rather than for investment value, as may be the case with classical carpets.
“In Europe, contemporary carpets have been around for at least 20 to 25 years,” says Amin Bagheri, director of The Orientalist and president of The Hand-Knotted Carpet Association of Singapore. “But merchants in Asia didn’t really pay attention to them because the market for carpets was not really mature enough to begin with. Then slowly we realized there should be an alternative to machine-made carpets, with the feel of traditional carpets.”
So the store started carrying contemporary carpets about 10 years ago, mostly designed by Europeans and Americans. About three years ago, it also started designing its own carpets, in collaborating with interior designers, then having them made in wool, silk or a combination of the two, in Iran, Nepal and India.

Key Difference

In terms of hand-knotting techniques, classical and contemporary carpets are similar. The key difference is in their design. Contemporary carpets tend to have simpler patterns and use fewer colours, but play on texture and how their appearance can change depending on the angle from which they are viewed, explains Mr Bagheri.
These contemporary creations, he says, are the only way to realise the ideas of the interior designers of “new age” homes and offices and accommodate the individual tastes and lifestyles of “businessmen and successful people”.
“Contemporary carpets are simply more appealing today.” he says.
In terms of volume, some 60 percent of The Orientalist’s carpet sales are from its contemporary collection. But in terms of value it’s the other way around, with the contemporary versus classical split at 40:60.
This is because classical carpets are more costly to produce, due to their more complicated and detailed designs and greater use of colours. On top of that, modern carpets, with their simpler patterns, may not require the finer knots and higher density, say 600 knots per square inch, and of the same size at 8x6 ft. a fine contemporary carpet at The Orientalist will cost about $4,000, while a classical one will set you back $7,000 to $8,000.
Alternatively, customers and interior designers can have carpets custom-made according to their own design and choice of colours. For such a carpet, customers have to pay a 50 per cent premium over a ready-made contemporary carpet and wait about three months for delivery.
“This service is very popular for high-end homes.” says Mr Bagheri. “The wool is dyed for you and the design is made according to your specifications. Such carpets cost more, but they are made only for you.”
Be that as it may, the growing popularity of contemporary carpets has not dented the value of the classical variety, says Hadi Nishaburi, director of Jehan Gallery at Dempsey Road. For the past four to five years, his family has been designing its own modern carpets, which are hand-knotted in Iran, India, Nepal and Afghanistan. Jehan has also been making custom-order carpets for the past couple of years. But classical carpets still make up some 80 per cent of its sales volume.

Still No. 1

“The newer generation wants something more clean-cut, but classical carpets are a form of art that will never go gout of fashion. People will always purchase them,” he points out. “There’s no limit to price, which can go up to millions. They may be antiques or a one-off piece made by a famous artist.”
He feels there is “too much hype” in the market – especially from Europe – over contemporary carpets. “In the US and bigger carpet markets in the world, traditional carpets are still the number one sellers.”
He believes the greater affordability of contemporary carpets – as well as consumer demand for new designs every so often – is fuelling demand for them, especially since traditional Persian carpets are getting pricier.
“They are making fewer traditional carpets in Iran because it is getting less economical to hand-make them.” says Mr Nishaburi. “The younger generation is not so interested in weaving carpets, and if you go to villages in Iran where we’ve been buying carpets for years, they now have Internet cafes. Maybe in the next 10 years, production of hand-made Persian carpets will be very little and very expensive, so they will not be affordable at all. So now is a good time to invest in them.”
For the foreseeable future, however, the trend is undeniably moving towards contemporary carpets. In line with greater demand for them, The Orientalist will showcase its latest designer collections of contemporary carpets next Friday. At the same time, it will launch an interior designer’s corner – a dedicated area for designers to discuss patterns and pick carpets for clients – at its 6,000 sq ft showroom at HPL House in Cuscaden Road.
In the future, Mr Bagheri is thinking of asking Singapore’s contemporary artists to create carpet designs that will carry their signature.
So, designer carpets. Anyone?

Where to find your dream weave

MANY carpet merchants now carry hand-knotted carpets with contemporary, so be sure to shop around to find your dream weave. Alternatively, pay a premium and have a carpet hand-knotted according to your specific design and choice of colours. While the possibilities are endless, here are some ready-made, hand-knotted contemporary carpets to get you started:

Armani Casa Singapore
328 North Bridge Road, Raffles Hotel Arcade,
#01-33/34. Tel: 6334-0885

ALL its carpets are designed by Giorgio Armani and made in Nepal. Carpets from the Tutankhamon range sport an alligator design and are made of a combination of silk and wool. Available in grey, brown and black, a 300x400cm piece will set you back at least $62,300.

From the Reame range comes a carpet in beige wool with a fan pattern in wool and silk. For a 400x400cm size, be prepared to shell out $61,200.

The Orientalist Singapore
50 Cuscaden Road, #01-01 HPL House. Tel: 6732-0880

This 244x180cm wool carpet (below) by German designer, Jan Kath – known for combining modern designs with traditional Himalayan handiwork – is woven in Nepal and costs $8,400.

Steeped in rich colours, this carpet by Haynes Robinson (below) is the result of creative collaboration between the American designer and Persian weavers who improvise and elaborate on is themes. Made in Iran, this 163x95cm wool carpet is priced at $4,000.

Swiss-based brothers Dani and Sascha Mischioff compose their collections with an eye on interior design. This 148x103cm wool carpet is made in Pakistan and costs $2,100.

Jehan Gallery
Blk 26, Dempsey Road, #01-01/02. Tel: 6334-4333

Designed by Jehan Gallery, this 5 x 8 ft carpet is made of wool on a cotton base and woven in the Tabriz region of Iran. Priced at $2,900.

Also designed by Jehan Gallery, this 5 x 8 ft carpet is made in the Shiraz region of Iran. Priced at $2,900.