Hannover. Flatwoven or tapestry-woven carpets and textiles have been made by generations of weavers in all corners of the world. The technique lies at the heart of the history of textile weaving, but kilims and tapestries remain as relevant and important in the world of contemporary design and interiors as they have ever been. The design language of flatwoven textiles is instantly recognisable, where typically weft threads pass horizontally over portions of warps to form geometric blocks of flat colour to create the overall design. For some people, the mention of a flatwoven rug instantly suggests an Anatolian kilim, for others it is a tightly woven Caucasian sumakh or a double-sided striped jajim, an Iranian eating cloth called a sofreh, a Navajo rug, a French Aubusson carpet or a Moroccan kilim. The visual language and identities of the flatweave are even more diverse than those of pile carpets.
To comprehend the relevance of flatwoven rugs in today's market, you only have to look at some of the previous winners of the Carpet Design Awards and the range of beautiful designs for contemporary flatweaves offered at Domotex and beyond. In some cases a traditional design has been reworked for a modern audience, in some the design is completely contemporary, while in many cases the beauty and simplicity of a traditional design is what actually assures its usability today.
While flatweaves traditionally had a utilitarian purpose such as to decorate the home, to serve as various covers, as mule saddles or to wrap food, today they are a popular floorcovering choice the world over. The method with which they are woven lends itself to creating flat planes of colour and geometric patterns. These traditional tribal designs perfectly suit our contemporary design sensibilities currently focused on the minimalist aesthetic. The pure blocks of colour, simple stripes or checks that flatweaves offer are ideal for modern interior spaces. In addition flatweaves are often offered at lower price points than pile carpets.
Over the last five years the design industry has been increasingly focused on the concept of craft, makers, handmade goods, and with designs that are easily recognised as handwoven. Flatweaves fit clearly into this trend. Their flat surfaces are a perfect way to show off excellent quality wool, accomplished weaving and brilliant colour, all of which can be the deciding factor when choosing a rug. There is something very open and honest about the design of a kilim, a characteristic much appreciated by design savvy buyers who are able to recognise the integral, genuine texture that the flatwoven surface offers.
Some examples of highly desirable and popular kilims on the market today include Hamburg-based Naziri's super chic Iranian kilims that have won numerous Carpet Design Awards, four of them over the last two years. Their simple tribal patterns have a traditional soul but a contemporary perspective. Werner Webber's Mazandaran kilims from Northwest Iran are eye-wateringly beautiful in design and intense in colour, akin to works of modern art. Other brands producing striking flatweave designs include Zollanvari, Edelgrund and Rug & Kilim, a New York-based brand whose Swedish folk art inspired flatweave Marta Stripe won Best Traditional Design at the CDA 2016.
Flatweaves have been well represented during the eleven years of the Carpet Design Awards and many have gone on to win a coveted prize, proof that they are an important element within the language of contemporary carpets. For the 2017 edition of the CDA, flatwoven rugs have been granted their own 'best of type' category. It is clear that it will be a popular and highly competitive part of the awards.