Katrin ten Eikelder hit on the idea for her label while she was in New York, working as a business development manager for a German fashion company. "In New York, I saw oriental rugs in modern settings – beautiful hand-made originals of the kind that were no longer so popular in Germany". So she put together a plan to rekindle the love of oriental carpets in Germany and headed to Berlin, where she founded The Knots in 2014. "My father is a registered expert in oriental rugs and continues to give me the benefit of his expertise to this very day", ten Eikelder says, noting that he was very receptive to her project right from the outset. "But my family background played no role in developing my business idea".

Oriental vintage rugs with a hint of New York

"My branding and communication differ from those of conventional rug dealers", ten Eikelder explains. "My aim is to give hand-made rugs a new image – to highlight their quality and sustainability aspects while positioning them in a fresh, young context". In Berlin's central Mitte district she operates a showroom that prospective buyers can view by prior arrangement, but for the most part she sells online, in keeping with the shopping habits of her label's young and urban target market. "I value fair trade and working with small producers whom I know personally. I like to know where my products come from". She also attaches great value to the long-term satisfaction of her customers, which is why The Knots is synonymous with long-lasting products made 100 percent from natural materials, such as cotton, alpaca wool and sheep wool. Each of her vintage rugs has a serial number and bears a name that references New York in some way. The Knots stands apart from conventional carpet and rug brands, as evidenced by the advertising claim, "Unique carpets picked with love", which puts a premium on product individuality. If you go to the label's website, the first thing you’ll see is a slideshow of vintage carpets spread out on an urban sidewalk. Katrin ten Eikelder herself actually features in some of the product photos – a reflection of her close personal association with the brand. The website also has a journal containing stories and styling tips on how to get the best out of oriental carpets.

From classic to modern with bleaching and re-dyeing

The online shop part of the website features vintage and new rugs, all beautifully hand-made. Among much else, shoppers will see 80-year-old creations from Turkey and various regions of Iran that have been specially sun-bleached to create unique design effects and then re-dyed. This process is a highly effective way of transforming traditional artisan products into modern design objects. "You can never really tell how the rug is going to look after this treatment", ten Eikelder says. That's because the new color is only partially taken up by the textiles, and in certain spots is not taken up at all. When Katrin ten Eikelder first started the business, bold colors like turquoise, pink and green were the top sellers, whereas nowadays her customers tend to prefer muted tones like light-blue, beige and light-gray. Her The Knots label also features Berber rugs from Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, as well as Persian, Turkish and Afghan kilims. It also includes other textile products, such as blankets and cushions. Quality and color-coordinated with the rug range, these accessory products come predominantly in natural and pastel single tones. Katrin ten Eikelder visits DOMOTEX regularly in order to keep up to date with the latest trends and develop¬ments in the carpet and rug sector. "One thing I've noticed there is a resurgence in the market's acceptance of artisan rugs and classic elements".