Learn about the latest Oriental market rug trends throughout the world as the owner of The Rug Gallery Sam Presnell travels to find exotic and exciting rugs.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher and I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hey, John.
John: So Sam, today we’re talking about the latest oriental rug market, travels, and opinions. Where have you [traveled recently] for rug buying and what have you seen there?
Latest Oriental Rug Market Travels
Sam: Well, this year I haven’t left the country as of yet; I’m planning that for the fall. I’ve got a trip that I’m working on for India and maybe Nepal for the fall, but we’ll see how that goes.
Right now, I don’t have anything really exotic going on, but I have done three markets here in the US. The first one was in Orlando, which is part of our carpet co-op buying group. We have about 80 store members that we buy [different products from]. There’s always a presentation at the show from the vendors with their latest offerings.
And then I do the Atlanta show. People may not know it, but Atlanta is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, ongoing rug show in the country. I know that it changed a lot in the last several years because of the recession and everything, but I would think at one time there were probably three to four hundred vendors there, which shows you the magnitude that it used to be.
I see it condensed into five or six floors, you start thinking, “Wow, that’s a big industry.” It’s kind of interesting to see. You can’t see it all. Believe me, when you go to a show like that, you only have three to four days and even when you make a stop every half hour, there’s no way to cover that massive amount.
I usually get about 40 [or more] on my best trips from different vendors I see. I always have to see, of course, the people that I do the majority of our business with on those trips so Atlanta is a big, big show for us and that was in January.
And then Vegas has another big show and it’s called Surfaces. Surfaces has everything, whereas Atlanta is more of just the rug side of it. Surfaces is carpet, which is basically why we go there. The Vegas trip is more of a carpet and looking at the soft surface stuff that we also sell.
There’s a great venue there for a lot of wool manufacturers from the wools of New Zealand. They started many, many years ago. That’s why I really attend the Vegas show, because it helps me on the carpet side of it.
Insights into the Oriental Rug Market
John: Okay. Does attending these shows and going on your other travels give you some unique insights into the rug market?
Sam: Oh my God, yes. It’s kind of interesting. I mean, you can’t imagine that you can see 40 vendors in a short period of time and get an overview of what everyone is pushing or what’s important to them. Everybody is unique and trying to do their own stuff. It really gives you a real quick analogous of what the market is coming up for the next year.
It takes a while. Once you see these products, you never get them right away. A lot of them are just prototypes [and they want to know what you think]. If they write enough orders and then they’ll go to manufacturing.
A lot of time in the markets, you’ll seeing a lot prototypes of things that they’re thinking about doing and we’ll see those maybe later in the summer or even early fall, all the way to the end of the year. Sometimes, it takes a year sometimes in certain types of rugs to actually from the preview to the actually delivery to the stores.
It really just gives you a great analogy of what’s important, what’s new, and you see so much it’s overwhelming almost. It’s amazing.
Newest Rugs on the Market
John: Right. So what’s your opinion on the newest types of rugs that are coming out now? What are the hot things in the market?
Sam: Well, I think that it’s been like this for a little while and I have to say that it is still continuing. There’s a very modern, abstract market and that is continuing to grow. I think it really has hit a great stride here and it seems that it really has, what I call, legs where it is really beginning to grow and grow every year and getting better and bigger.
I think the big thing that I’ve noticed as of lately is that it’s not only just modern, but there’s also color. I think color is always king to the rug [and carpet] business, and we’re seeing a lot more pops of stronger colors coming into the market, which I’m [excited for], because I get kind of tired of seeing things the same way for too long.
It’s just my nature. I like change. I like something new and exciting, and I think that’s why The Rug Gallery has developed into who we are — we’re always, what I call, cutting edge. We’re always one of the first ones [to try out] new things and a lot of times you flop. It’s not a crystal ball; you know what’s going to happen, but right now, it’s very modern, contemporary, and with a splash of color.
John: For a long time there, we just had white paint on the walls and everything was all kind of stark, but it seems like lately color has become big in the design trends in homes with people doing splashes of colors on the wall. Maybe they have an accent wall with a certain color.
Do you think that that kind of relates to rugs as well? People want to bring in that accent color and put it on their floor.
Sam: I think the rug, as I’ve said it before, is the soul of the room. It can really change the whole feel or ambiance of a room if you get the right rug in there. Color is emotional and there are a lot of things that can be said about color.
I think everyone has their own opinion on their favorite color, but it is something that makes a difference in one’s interior and I think it’s one of the most important aspects of interior design.
Oriental Rug Quality
John: Where do you see the highest quality rugs coming from now or possibly in the future?
Sam: Well, on the rug side of it, [quality rugs] still [come from] Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and there’s all kinds of grades from all those countries. It’s not like you can say just a generic name like that and everything is just the best quality, but those are the countries with a history in rug weaving. Certain areas like in Pakistan, definitely the Lahore market and the Peshawar market is [popular]
Afghanistan is still bringing in most of the stuff through Pakistan, but there are weaving really nice stuff and they have, what I call, the last frontier of rug weaving in the world today. I’m really excited about what they’re doing.
And then in India, there’s basically four major weaving areas. There’s probably more than that, [but] Jaipur, [is the] pinnacle. That’s the top of the hill. When you reach the top, that’s where all the top weaving is done, and the most experimental and very high quality pieces come out of there.
Agra is next, kind of a lower step down, not much off of Jaipur. This is not an exact science, but there are always people doing great stuff in Agra, better than people doing lower ends in Jaipur, but go with whoever gives you a better price point.
We do a lot of carpeting out of there as well. So that’s kind of the way I see the quality shaking up in those countries.
Innovative & Unique Oriental Rugs
John: Okay. What are the most sort of innovative or unique rugs that are being made now?
Sam: I think the most innovative rugs today are very, very high-end, but I can also think of a lot of lower-end stuff that is innovative when playing with different types of yarn.
I think yarns are very interesting today and they can make or break a rug. It doesn’t have to be fine knot, [it can have] a really cool texture to it where they [use] different types of plies, they’ll mix different yarns together, and create a really nice finish.
It’s kind of hard for me to really explain that in words, but when you see it, you just kind of think, “Wow, that’s very unique about that rug and I like the way the colors kind of reacted to that particular weave, or I like the way that weave feels.”
So that’s kind of the uniqueness. I think [it’s really about] yarn systems well as designs. You can buy [designs] in any price point. You can buy them machine made, you can buy them handmade, you can buy them at the low-end, and you can buy at the high-end.
The high-end guys, especially the Jaipur guys, are weaving in real silk. The low-end guys are weaving in viscose, but it looks like silk. You have very complex modern, abstract designs, which are really like pieces of art. I see all kinds of stuff in them and think, “Wow, this is Jackson Pollock or has that type of feel to it.” If you’re into modern art it is very, very cool.
John: When you talk about the different types of yarns, do you mean that they’re incorporating different types of yarns into the same rug in order to create a pattern in the rug?
Sam: Yes. We have a totally plain rug, but when you start playing with that same dye with different yarn systems it’ll [have] different tonal shades differently because of that. Or have certain sheens to it in parts of it and not in others.
You can create abstract patterns with really not even having a pattern. It’s kind of hard to explain that, but it’s basically done by how the dye accepts by that particular yarn system.
John: Okay, that’s really interesting. Alright, well great information, Sam. I appreciate you speaking with me today.
Sam: Alright, John. My pleasure. Thank you.
John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets visit ruggallerycincy.com or call 5137939505.
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