Expert advice on how to find the perfect statement rugs, runners and other floor fillers to make your home that bit cosier this winter
Words: Victoria Purcell
It’s that time of year when our instinct to hunker down and get cosy kicks in. Cashmere jumpers, mohair socks and cosy throws are the order of the day, and it’s the perfect time to invest in something soft and warm underfoot.
‘Most rooms will benefit from a well chosen rug all year round,’ says Christopher Sharp, CEO and Co-Founder of The Rug Company, ‘but our chilly climate means that autumn is naturally the time when people want to start getting their homes ready for colder climes.’
Christopher and his wife Suzanne, who run the company together, fell in love with rugs while living in the Middle East. ‘I was making documentaries for a TV station and we would spend our evenings trawling the souks and markets,’ he says. ‘We returned to London with a collection of rugs and a passion, so we opened a small shop in Chelsea and the business grew from there.’
The couple wanted to combine traditional rug-making techniques with contemporary design. ‘It’s about innovation and great craft,’ says Christopher, ‘I think people underestimate how special handmade rugs are. It’s essential that the materials are the best. We get our wool from the Tibetan Plateau where the sheep graze at extremely high altitudes and the wool is full of natural oil (lanolin). If you treat the wool with respect during the weaving process, this oil will help protect the finished rug for the duration of its life, which could be hundreds of years.’
The Rug Company, which designed a rug for the Royal Rowbarge Gloriana featuring the Queen’s cipher, has worked with some of the best creative minds of our time, including Tom Dixon, Alexander McQueen and Barber & Osgerby. This year also marks the 15th anniversary of their collaborations with Paul Smith, who has designed a new collection in celebration.
Other design houses have started to adopt a similar ethos, combining striking, contemporary design with artisan craft. Check out Jonathan Adler, who seeks out artisan rug makers in Peru and India, and Jardin D’Interieur, a new collection of rugs and runners by master Parisian designer India Mahdavi in collaboration with French textile producer La Manufacture Cogolin (available online at discoverdeliver.com).
‘Always choose a rug that you love, like an artwork,’ says Christopher. ‘It will last for many decades, so you want to love it in 20 years’ time. A good rug seller will help advise you and let you take the rug home first to try it in situ. In terms of quality, turn it over – you should be able to see thousands of knots in a genuinely hand-knotted rug. And look out for the raw materials, a rug is only as good as the materials it is made from.’