The Latest Must-Have Rugs for the Modern Home
What styles are in demand right now? We interviewed carpet expert and buyer Wilhard Kühne about the current desire for earthy tones and traditional designs.
Mr. Kühne, you are a carpet buyer in a furniture store and are therefore very close to the customers. What are the most sought-after handmade rugs at the moment?
Wilhard Kühne: At the upper end of the price range, handwoven Loribaft rugs are currently in very high demand. These are an adaptation of the traditional nomadic rug, which comes in fine as well as thick weaves. Rugs with a vintage or distressed look are also becoming more popular—in both the lower and higher price brackets. Another really important product is the classic handwoven Oriental rug.
Handwoven rugs are regaining their former popularity. Why is that?
Customers value individuality more than ever, meaning they want bespoke rugs made in the size of their choice. People are moving away from uniformity - and not only when it comes to size. Those who can afford to are going back to Oriental rugs, which have been experiencing a renaissance for some time now. They give the room a distinctive but nonetheless traditional and cozy vibe. I think they'll become more and more popular.
What are currently the most sought-after designs?
Modest and monochrome designs are popular at the moment - as is the mottled effect to an extent. Borders, on the other hand, are too much for most people. Two thirds of customers want something more understated for their floors, whilst a third prefer colors or patterns. This is actually the case in all areas of design.
In interior design, there is currently a preference for natural colors: earthy tones, green, and grey. Rugs in natural, subtle colors.
Yes, and this trend will no doubt continue to gain traction. People are clearly keen on it right now. Grey is in particularly high demand.
In rug design, material is all important. Is the trend towards natural colors also catching on with materials?
Yes. Designers like to use hemp and jute when making natural-look rugs. They also enjoy experimenting with materials and combining them in different ways—for example, wool with sisal, linen, or even goat hair. This is also the case for the luxury segment, where the color preferences are the same: monochrome and natural. The materials they use are different, though. Expensive rugs are mainly made out of natural fibers.
When it comes to vintage and distressed-look rugs, people are looking for fine weaves in silk and wool.
You often visit Morocco. There is one Moroccan rug in particular that's causing a stir amongst design bloggers: the Beni Ouarain , made from sheep’s wool with ornate, black diamond patterns. Is this rug about to make a big breakthrough?
I'm a big fan of unique and old-world styles so I think one-off designs and nomadic rugs are great. And I'm not the only one; more and more people want these unusual designs in their homes. But in my opinion we're still some way off a breakthrough.
Over the past few years, deep-pile carpets have fallen out of favor, and customers have increasingly shown a preference for short- and mid-pile.
The smoother short- and mid-pile carpets are still popular amongst customers, whilst the deep-pile are no longer in fashion. There's just not as much demand for them anymore.
Are there any timeless classics - any rugs that will always be a hit amongst customers?
Many of my colleagues throughout Germany swear by the Bidjar, Mir, and Nain rugs. These stand out from other oriental rugs thanks to their blue and white color schemes. In the south of Germany, where I work, we sell a lot of gabbehs with geometric shapes or abstract motifs.
Let's take a look back. You have been in the carpet trade for over 35 years now. Which trends were prevalent at the start of your career?
The trends we know today are fairly recent. Back then there was the full range of handwoven Oriental rugs from the traditional rug-weaving nations, as well as from India and Pakistan. The Nepal rug was relatively unestablished at that time. There wasn't a whole lot more to choose from until around 25 years later when it suddenly caught on. It quickly became recognized as a designer rug because of its versatility. At the same time, hand-tufted woolen rugs, which were slightly cheaper, were slowly becoming fashionable.
And looking forward, what can we expect from handwoven carpets in the next year?
I can't say for certain. Color trends are also hard to predict. I'm just excited to see what DOMOTEX has to offer. Talk at the trade fair normally revolves around one or two highlights. I think it's likely that monochrome or tone-on-tone rugs will continue to dominate - rather than flashy colors and zany designs.
Which rugs have you most enjoyed buying for your furniture store this year?
New takes on classic designs: Indian rugs in a retro style. They're made from handspun wool and are colored with natural dye. I decided to buy them because they were so unusual, so different. They're just coming into the store now.
How can people add a touch of elegance to their home if they haven't got much money to spare?
Many people come to us with photos of carpets they already own looking for something to go with them. Our job is to find them the perfect match. Creating harmony between colors and styles is key.
And what rugs do you have in your own home?
I have traditional rugs from all over the world: Persian, Russian, and Afghan. Village and nomadic rugs. A lot of kilims, or woven rugs, which have geometric patterns, look the same on both sides, and can be hung on the wall. I also have some collector's items and a few pieces of antique furniture. Overall, I'd say my home combines elements of the oriental and country house styles. I prefer a harmony of colors.