Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tania Johnson: Nature Inspired Rug Design

Tania Johnson: Nature Inspired Rug Design
Meet Tania Johnson, founder of Tania Johnson Design. She specializes in custom made, contemporary, hand knotted rugs, based on a rich heritage as a textile designer for such brands as Martha Stewart, Chilewich, Vera Wang, and Calvin Klein Home. In fact, as a designer for Calvin Klein Home, she created the brand’s first rug collection in 2002.

Tania's publicist, Dania Ahmad, shared with me news about Tania's latest collection which is "inspired by the natural world, the way light creates shadows and reflections, the microscopic details found in nature and the infinite textures created through layering."  You can imagine how intrigued I was.

As Dania explained, "Johnson creates ethereal designs and translates them into intricately woven rugs. The collectable pieces feature original, cutting-edge designs, and are hand knotted by artisans in Nepal using lustrous combinations of silk, wool and pashmina."

Can you imagine walking up such deliciousness?  I can.

Tania Johnson is New York based albeit British born designer who graduated from London’s Royal College of Art with a Master of Arts in woven textiles. According to Dania, Tania Johnson "takes a hands-on approach to her business which is reflected in her commitment to promoting fair labor standards in the carpet industry. She works with GoodWeave, a certification program which aims to eliminate child labor and to improve working conditions for adults; any carpet with the GoodWeave label means that the rug was made only by adult artisans. In addition, the certification program helps fund educational opportunities for children as well as support and resources for families and weaving communities in South Asia."

My recent email exchanges with Dania focused on Tania Johnson's recent rug introductions, consisting of "four stunning hand  knotted rug designs ... The  earthy but contemporary patterns are inspired by intricate  details  of  nature - among them delicate plays of  light,  shadows and  reflection.  Johnson portrays these elements  through  meticulous  color  choices, very high knot counts, and combinations of silk and wool that create nuanced textures and sheens.... As with the other designs in the collection each of these  rugs - Reflected  Trees,  Textured  Daisy,  Branches, Drops of Light - is a bespoke collector's piece that pushes the boundaries of creative and technical possibilities."

Per the press release: “As an avid world traveler and photographer I have found my rug designs to serve as the perfect canvas for capturing memories from my travels. The inspiration for the patterns often comes from the subtlest details of my own photographs - rain falling on tree branches, or a close-up of a Nepalese Buddhist shrine. The colors and materials allow me to translate these small frozen moments into usable pieces of art,” said Johnson.

Furthermore, "as with the other designs in the collection each of these rugs - Reflected Trees, Textured Daisy, Branches, Drops of Light - is a bespoke collector’s piece that pushes the boundaries of creative and technical possibilities. The designs benefit from Johnson’s penchant for very low pile heights. This detail offers an added layer of luxury and a supple and sumptuous surface quality that is equally pleasing to the eye and to the touch. The entire Tania Johnson Design collection is ideal for a wide range of residential and hospitality settings – from a living room or foyer to a hotel lobby."

Go ahead, feast your eyes!

Tania Johnson: Reflected Trees
Reflected TreesAn image of trees reflected in a lake. As the sun moves across a lake, an image fleetingly appears only to be replaced moments later by a new pattern. The use of warm colors and blending of different shades with varying percentages of wool and silk in a single knot recreates the beautiful interplay of light and movement in the original photograph. Boasting a burnt orange ground, Reflected Trees is made from wool and silk. 100 knots per inch, 4mm pile.

Tania Johnson: Textured Daisy

Textured Daisy - A daisy’s shadow falls on a stony path, creating a softly blurred flower pattern on a textured ground. Subtle shades of color are finely knotted in wool to create the blurred edges while an uneven silk grid is layered on top to add movement and sheen. Textured Daisy is made from wool and silk, 200 knots per inch, 3mm pile.

Tania Johnson: Drops of Light

Drops of Light - Light is captured as it falls in drops. Through the use of high knot count and tonal shades, the delicate nuances of light are recreated within the lemon colored wool ground, while the drops shine in silk. Drops of Light is made from wool and silk. 200 knots per inch, 3mm pile

Tania Johnson: Branches
Branches - Tree branches in the rain are viewed through a gauzy mesh. Made from pure silk, the rug gradually shifts and transforms from an intricate design to a sheen of olive green tones as one moves around it. Branches is made from 100% silk. 200 knots per inch, 4mm pile.

If you'd like to order a Tania Johnson rug, you'll be interested to know that the standard sizes for Tania Johnson Design rugs are 5'x8', 6'x9', 9'x12' and 10'x14'. At the same time, everything in the line is made to order and completely customizable - which means that you will have a field day!

You can also learn more about Tania Johnson design and her inspiration via her blog.

For many of you, I expect that you're looking to create a consistent or integrated feel in your home. And, if you're looking to meld the soft rug interpretations that Tania Johnson has created with hard surface concepts, I suggest you visit the Avente TileTalk Blog and specifically New Leaf Imprint Tiles for Spring which - in my mind - would coordinate beautifully together.

What's your take? Do you enjoy nature inspired designs in rugs as well as tile?

Special thanks to Tania Johnson and Dania Ahmad.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rug Rag For Area Rug & Carpet Style Inspiration

David Dilmaghani, Rug Rag
Area rugs and carpet represent the ultimate flooring design statement. For that reason, I share with you an interview with David Dilmaghani, co-founder of, which specializes in traditional and decorative rugs and carpets, and an article he wrote for The Carpetology Blog about rug and carpet style inspiration.

C.B.: Dave, tell me about Rug Rag. How did the company get started?

DD:  My brother Matthew and I co-founded the website in 2007. Rug Rag is a resource for those interested in learning about Oriental rugs, antique rugs, and area rugs. As the tech man for Rug Rag, Matthew has brought many of our interactive consumer widgets to life. With my specialty in hand knotted rugs, I author the vast majority of information in our Rug archive and on-site tools, and serve as a rug consultant for our readers and their questions on a daily basis.

One of the first tools we created was the Rug Estimator Pro: an interactive sampler tool to help consumers understand some determining factors which go into the assessment of new and used hand knotted carpets. Estimates rendered from this tool are actually derived from several thousand individually assessed and valued carpets from around the world, many of them from notable auctions and inventories of nationally recognized rug importers.

C.B.: How did you become interested in rugs?

DD:  My brother and I come from a long line of history in Persian rugs, so it was natural for me to learn about them at a very young age. Many memories of our younger years consist of being surrounded by carpets at our father's rug showroom in New York. However, it was not until I reached my late teens that a true appreciation for this artisan craft quickly turned into a hobby, and then passion.

C.B.: So your passion for rugs, a marvelously tactile and visual product, led you to the online world. How did that happen?

DD: In the late 90s, I truly pursued my interests in rugs and started researching the subject. As with any research project, there's a very steep learning curve at the beginning. With rugs, the mystique of a fine rug often either intrigues an individual to know more or overwhelms them to the point of confusion. Additionally, a great deal of misinformation on rugs remains rampant online. In many instances, less reputable sellers continue to exploit first time buyer misconceptions with "sale" prices.

We saw a need for a reliable resource for rug information and launched Rug Rag.  It's a destination for consumers to learn with us or, using easy-to-use tools and resources we've made available on our website, they can learn on their own. One example of this is our Oriental rug forum, which continues to be an excellent resource and unadulterated center for interacting with specialists in the field of Oriental rugs.

I spend much of my time attending rug auctions - this picture of me was taken at a recent Sotheby's auction - browsing carpets online and consulting with consumers about their carpets.

C.B.: Absolutely fascinating!

And now, here is the article that David Dilmaghani from shares with us about area rug and carpet style inspiration.


There is little question that many years ago your interior designer would say timeless designs and classic motifs of reds and blues were the bread and butter of their business. Now, the new wave of area rugs is of an entirely different breed.

Contextually, area rugs are among the easiest and most versatile decorative items within a space. By mere definition, area rugs are movable. By exploiting this inherent characteristic comes clear benefit of freedom. Without question, it is an exciting time to be a consumer in this market as the carpets now available are clearly
aligned with this spirit of decorative freedom.

Centuries ago, it was not uncommon to find what we now call area rugs to be throws and cover-alls above the floor. Carefully draped atop tables and chair-backs of the elite and well-to-do, Post 18th century, area rugs (traditionally hand-knotted rugs) were introduced back onto floors. Not only was this an aesthetic movement, but also in part, to serve their intended utility. Although rugs have been made for many, many centuries with varying techniques, weaving styles and textures, specifically now what is being presented to the market are extraordinarily progressive, and perhaps exponentially more integrative area rugs. Revivals, new weaving styles, materials, motifs, and even artist statements are bringing this somewhat traditional market to an entirely new era of floor covering. With the onslaught of the internet, almost any permutation of an area rug floor covering can spread like wildfire.

area rug style inspiration: Color Reform

As an ode to classic and traditional and classic designs (and a bit of shabby chic) with a twist of color come worn semi-antique Turkish carpets. Exhibiting wear pattern and strong overtones of post-production coloring, Color reform, as ABC calls their line of transformed art, makes new headway by rejuvenating otherwise deemed retired carpets.

Reinventing relics with brilliant, upbeat colors for a dazzled effect is what these whimsical carpets are all about. What a statement in how simple and effective use of color can bring entirely new emphasis on decorative value. Plus, they can be green. Literally and figuratively.

Area Rug Style Inspiration: Patchwork Style Rug

Old design adapted and reintroduced into the marketplace is not limited to Color Reform carpets. Patchwork rugs, perhaps many years ago seen as the “seersucker” of area rugs, are exploding within the marketplace – so much so they’re being woven in one piece as opposed to being sewn together. These sometimes mismatched and haphazard integration of snippet designs completely transcends traditionalism in many ways.

With few exceptions, hand knotted rugs have largely been unbranded for the past century. Samad, a renown importer of fine hand knotted carpets, literally brings art back to the floor with a new twist.

Area Rug Style Inspiration: Rex Ray Samad Collection: title=

Examples such as the Rex Ray collection provides duality - the prestige of a Samad rug with additional decorative appeal from the work of San Francisco based graphic designer, Rex Ray. Beautifully rendered and expressive designs adapted within the age-old technique of a hand knotted, piled carpet.

Traditional Flokati shag, not entirely dissimilar to the thick piled carpets of the 60s and 70s, seemed to have risen back into the marketplace as a high contender in the 90s and early 2000s. However, it seems many forgot how frightening these types can potentially be to keep clean, let alone vacuuming. Newer developments include a thick pelted felt pile with fat, nubby pile. This translates into an entirely different visual effect, but more so, a completely new consumer experience AND sensation while walking on these unique area rugs.

Timeless and classic motifs of yesteryear continue to have heavy momentum within the new market of area rugs. Although the new market in area rugs is constantly evolving, often incorporating bits and pieces of the old (literally). In a highly interactive world, with constant changes and developments continuing to propel the area rug market forward there is no question that rugs are the best investment of choice: Adaptable decorative items within interior design in many cases, providing a tangible experience in home decor harnessing your
room, whether on the wall, table, or of course the floors.


Thank you, David, for sharing this marvelous area rug and carpet style inspiration! Rugs truly are the ultimate in design statements and these examples you've shared with us are marvelous!

I'd love to hear reactions to these area rug styles. Which is your favorite? How do you see using such design statements in your home?

You can reach David Dilmaghani on, on Facebook or via email at

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