Fine Threads

Design | May 2017 | BY Mieke Ten Have

There are not many companies that could turn a rug launch into a fashionable frenzy—but The Rug Company, known for its partnerships with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Rodarte and Marni, to name but a few—does it in spades. The London-based, internationally represented rug atelier deftly fuses centuries old rug-making traditions with a uniquely au courant sensibility by cultivating collaborations with some of the most important fashion and interior designers today. Their impeccably made rugs run the gamut from kaleidoscopic and whimsical, to sophisticated and urbane and are as much beloved for their singularity as for their quality.

While now settled in London, the company’s co-founders, Suzanne and Christopher Sharp, have cultivated a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Having been raised in Malta and Uganda respectively, the couple have lived in Riyadh and have extensively explored the Middle East and Asia. Their educated, well traveled eye is evidenced by Suzanne’s own designs for the Rug Company. Like a modern day answer to an Aubusson, Suzanne extrapolates antique motifs—anything from Baroque Sicilian churches to Art Deco porcelain—and renders them anew by manipulating color, scale and orientation.

It is their ever evolving relationship with the fashion industry, however, that perennially courts public attention. Crossovers—like a fashion designer executing an authentic home line or conversely, an interior designer launching a clothing collection—aren’t the easiest to pull off well. The Rug Company’s collections by someone like Diane von Furstenberg, for example, eschew the derivative, yet still feel succinctly on brand—a large-scale python print is rendered in wool woven in Kathmandu, for example, and a resplendent leopard climbs an emerald green ground rendered in silk. Recent collaborations include an ongoing collection with iconic British designer Paul Smith, featuring Cubist like prisms in neutral and ebullient tones and his well known stripes, executed in undulating swirls.

This month, the company has released a collection by Elie Saab, featuring rugs in abstractions of lace and florals, common motifs in the Labanes-born, Paris-based designer’s oeuvre. The Rug Company, which has showrooms internationally, has just opened an outpost in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood. The company seeks to cater to Silicon Valley cognoscenti, with its first digitally interactive experience. “We have installed our first digital screen and in-store iPads where customers can fully immerse themselves in the brand,” says CEO James Seuss, “We’ve also launched an app that allows clients to design and order custom rugs.” Clients can tailor any design, shape, color, size or material, hewing to the brand’s close commitment to customization—as if The Rug Company’s couture credentials were not already proven.

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