Antique patterns in modern interiors

Humans are internally wired to find patterns in the world around, to bring a sense of order and narrative to the apparent chaos of existence. Ever since the concept of art first entered the human consciousness, certain stylised forms and patterns recognisable from the natural world have been rendered, reproduced and enjoyed within living spaces. The stripe, the check, the chevron, combinations of geometric shapes and more figurative designs—all are endlessly reinvented by each civilisation and generation to delight, entertain and adorn. The continuing, deep-rooted urge to decorate objects and environments means that decorative motifs travel through history, taking on different accents and styles depending on where they were created and in which period in history they gained popularity.

In rug weaving and textile design, patterns are often heavily influenced by the demands of manufacturing technique. But over thousands of years, various cultures have discovered the most effective and beautiful ways in which to use these limitations to their advantage, producing beautiful woven artworks as a result. The experimentation and skill of earlier craftspeople continues to inform design today. Many rug brands are adept at incorporating design elements from past traditions into new designs that nevertheless possess a freshness and vibrancy because they have been brought up to date and made relevant to the modern consumer.

The soft-focus effect in the abstract designs of Amadi Carpets’ Ikat Collection is informed by textiles created using the ikat technique, which involves dyeing sections of bound threads before weaving them into cloth. Brightly coloured ikat silks and velvets were popular as prestige clothing in 19th-century Central Asia; when toned down to a simpler palette, the striking patterns take on a more minimal feel without losing any of their impact. Another fine example of a translating a different textile type into pile rugs is seen in New Moon Rugs’ Mesa Collection, inspired by Native American Navajo flatweaves from the American Southwest. These stay true to the original colours and abstract compositions of the pieces from which they derive, but offer a more sumptuous texture designed to furnish a "Luxury Lodge".

Antique rugs also offer today’s successful rug brands a myriad of design inspiration. Zollanvari International channels the Persian tribal aesthetic into its Gabbehs.

These rugs were traditionally used as bedding by the nomadic Luri, Kurdish and Qashqa’i people of Iran’s Zagros Mountains, and stylised trees, plants and animals—elements which would have been an integral part of the weaver’s everyday surroundings—appear as charming motifs. Symmetrical floral elements that can be recognised in more formal antique Persian rugs for court and export can be transformed into popular ‘Transitional’ designs, much sought after by decorators wanting to merge the long lineage of tried and tested, recognisable rug designs with a very contemporary look.

French Accents has enlarged motifs to a grand scale in its Retro Classic Collection, while Hossein Rezvani has dissolved the fixed symmetry of a traditional medallion Heriz rug, modifying the appearance and adding depth by reducing the colour palette to three bold, contrasting shades.