A soft landing
What’s hot, what’s new and who’s who: the lay of the carpeting landscape, all mapped out.
Soft flooring packs a major punch when it comes to warmth (both aesthetic and physical) and a lived-in feel that’s hard to achieve otherwise. Whether loose or fitted, wool, eco-friendly polypropylene or natural fibre, carpeting can improve acoustic quality and insulation levels, a particularly appealing proposition at this time of year when the cold bites.
While some are looking for a carpet that ranks as an art piece on its own, others are after comfort, neutrality or even great eco credentials. The following brands get our vote for a host of reasons like sustainability, contemporary luxury, heritage craftsmanship, designer appeal, affordability and even their incredibly wide selection.
Rowley & Hughes
Natural fibre carpeting has become a perennial favourite for its pared back, organic aesthetic, which works beautifully into neutral schemes and brings a major dose of comfort to the scene. For decades, this Capetonian brand has been a go to for both the decorating trade and public, ranking as a premium supplier of coir, jute, seagrass, sisal, wool, sisal mix and multi-use – a product we’ll get to shortly.
The finishes offered among these fibre types are incredibly diverse with sisal and seagrass typically offering a cleaner, tighter aesthetic and coir and jute forging a more chunky, textured look. By brushing the coir, however, Rowley & Hughes is achieving a much softer look and feel and they’ve increased this offering to include really novel colourways like a deep burgundy, a black and a charcoal.
If you lust after the laid-back look of natural fibre, but your lifestyle demands a tough-as-nails solution, Multi-Use is without doubt the range you should look into. Mimicking the look and feel of natural fibre with a composition of 100% polypropylene, it’s sustainable and UV and water-resistant, so it can be used both outdoors and indoors. While browsing this stylish yet versatile range, check out their latest releases: Fine Boucle Scoria, which is a dramatic anthracite boucle weave and Flatweave Zodiac which brings an element of dimension to a neutral-coloured weave. Another newbie to the gang is their Sisal Panama Sable, a chunkier weave sisal in a rich, natural brown hue.
Buzzwords: natural, sustainable, understated
Mae Artisan Rugs
The eponymous founder of this high end, contemporary rug brand grew up with a wealth of experience in the rug trade. She’s the second generation of Iranian Azeris in her family to join the industry, having gained insider knowledge from her father whose Hamburg-based rug store was her childhood playground, and her brother Paco of Paco Rugs, which might ring a bell.
Her philosophy centres around reframing the rug as an original piece of art for the floor, an approach which puts her firmly into the realm of designers, artists, artisans and creatives. While she does offer designs with a more traditional aesthetic, her collections lean unmistakably toward the contemporary realm, but make no mistake, the brand’s quality is exceptional and their respect for heritage craft second to none. Her collaboration with KLûK CGDT, for example, was a smash hit and bore a quartet of rugs so bold, colourful and graphic that it’s been hard to forget.
Buzzwords: contemporary, luxury, heritage.
Epiphany by Gonsenhausers
The third-generation rug company which began with a penchant for oriental rugs (and progressed with a much wider offering) has just introduced its sister company Epiphany. The new brand looks to streamline the rug buying process with an off-the-shelf offering that’s as wide and varied as a tour through the warehouse itself. With each and every design available in an impressive array of sizes, (we mean everything from runners to standard and round rugs) Epiphany is bringing newfound ease and affordability to the business of rug sourcing.
Speaking of round rugs, we love this format for its ability to punctuate an area or zone, drawing the eye in and pulling together a dining or coffee table set up. We’re crushing on their Brixton Contemporary Abstract Atlantic Round.
There are two collections in particular on our radar, namely Arazad and Prasad. Arazad forgoes neutrals in favour of bold, bright geometry and graphic designs. Incorporating blues, golds, persimmon and rust, these rugs are hand tufted in India and straddle the divide between traditional and tribal rug styles.
Prasad, on the other hand, draws from a subtle palette of blues, greys, charcoal and ecru but not without a good dose of glamour. This collection is all about sophistication, incorporating a mix of high-low piles and a power loom technique used on their new super soft, eco-friendly polypropylene yarn.
Buzzwords: affordability, accessibility, diversity.
We love the work coming from this small female-owned furniture and product design studio and their recent foray into rugs is no exception. With a love of collaboration and a focus on upliftment in local artisanal communities, the girls from Bofred have produced a small batch range of hand-woven mohair rugs inspired by the vast plains of the Karoo. The collab is a partnership with SA’s Queen of mohair – Frances van Hasselt of Frances VH – whose heritage in mohair farming is being translated into a prominent rug weaving business with modern, global appeal.
The Homestead Collection includes five designs, aptly given names like Soil, Shadow and Cliff, which nod to the muted colours and earthy textures of this – the home of the Angora goat. Their colour choices are dreamy, with a dialed down fusion of rusts, bark, ivory and sage and their graphics are abstract, hinting at the region’s landscape, its hills, water bodies and rocky earth with sophisticated subtlety.
One of the bonuses of working with raw mohair is its ability to amplify colour and bring it to life and the raw product, according to Frances, shows off the fibre’s natural lustre, texture and character with a luxurious foot feel too. Mohair also ranks as one of the oldest and most sustainably produced natural fibres on the market and the lack of interference it gets in the manufacture of Bofred’s end products only bolsters this claim.
Buzzwords: upliftment, mohair, small batch.