Nothing quite like them for making a space. And undergoing something of a major design revolution at the moment. Think rugs are just squares of carpet? Think again. They have increasingly become the statement piece of the home, art for your floor, a treat for the eyes as well as the toes.
It used to be that a rug was something bought as a sort of after thought, and only if you didn’t have a carpet (or to cover up worn patches of pile). One usually bought something flat and plain to stick in front of the sofa, and something fluffier for the side of the bed (here it was acceptable to layer it over a carpet). Throw in a couple of bath mats and you were done. Mostly we’d pop into any large department store and make our selection from a couple of racks, options being plain or patterned, fat or fluffy, have them delivered and that was that. There followed a brief surge in popularity of cowskins, followed by sheepskins (trends dictating originally cream, then black, currently grey). But no more. Now buying a rug is akin to choosing a unique artwork for your home, with them increasingly displayed in gallery-esque environments, and the designs tending towards the narrative, complex and painterly.
Additionally designers from all fields are getting in on the action, clamouring to collaborate with brands like The Rug Company who have worked with an extraordinary range of creatives from the late Alexander McQueen to Vivienne Westwood via photographer/film-maker Sam Taylor-wood, alongside more expected names like Jonathan Adler, Paul Smith and Neisha Crosland). Showrooms like Tufenkian, Kasthall, Golran and Christopher Farr have built their reputations on curated collections of great beauty; and add to this roll call of talent those individuals who have devoted themselves exclusively to the art of the rug (think Esti Barnes, Luke Irwin and Dierdre Dyson) and it’s clear that the field is replete with genius.
But what has brought about this seeming revolution? I think it’s because accessorising your home is the easiest way to either make it your own, or to give it a new look. And as we’re all moving home less often, preferring to improve or extend instead, this is the new fast track makeover. But, a caveat, this isn’t about a quick zip to IKEA and the purchase of a few cheap plains (albeit they do have some remarkably well-priced 100% wool rugs, and even hand-knotted oriental rugs!), what I’m seeing is the rise and rise of the investment rug, supreme quality artisanal items hand-woven from pure silk, wool, and cashmere, not to forget incredibly soft bamboo mixes, even nettle fibres too! Your choice of rug is rapidly becoming the statement in the room, working hard to balance the trend for ever braver colour choices in sofas and the increasing use of luxe fabrics like deep-pile velvet for upholstery. So be bold, the next big thing in homes is right under your feet.
1 Texture: forget flat weaves, the new wave of rugs are thoroughly three-dimensional, often using different materials to achieve different effects, if not cutting and carving into the pile to create topographical tufted landscapes.
2 Neutrals: think this means boring, think again! Such are the calibre of designers working in this medium today, that in their hands classic patterns are re-interpreted and pared-back colours transformed into rugs that will work in any interior.
3 Hides: but not as they were before. Rather, these leather-worked floor coverings have been given a major makeover, think bold geometric designs and a lot of colour.
4 Modern Canvases: by this I mean the sort of rugs where artistic expression and comfort are combined. Taking visual cues from paintings and the look of brushstrokes, these are the ultimate art-for-your-floor rugs.
And see more great brands and our pick of nine of the best art-inspired rugs here… Best Buys: Artistic rugs
5 Geometrics: from high street to high end, bold geometric patterns are everywhere. From designs that play on classic repeats to iconic abstracts by luminaries such as Walter Knoll and Eileen Gray at Aram Store.
6 Vintage: just as with art, people are recognising the joy of owning a rug with history, especially traditional Beni Ourain Berber rugs, characterised by their predominantly cream and black colour ways and diamond patterned designs, these have even been spotted in the Eames’s own home. Also top tip for the future classic: Saharan Mats made from palm wood and dromedary skin!
Ps See our pick of the best Berber rugs from high-street versions to the real thing here… Best Buys: Berber rugs
Watch our short #EDloves rugs video!
Text by Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief ELLE Decoration
See also michelleogundehin.com