Rug-making has always been considered to be at the intersection of art and craft. On the one hand, a rug is a functional object – at its most basic, it serves as a floor covering. On the other hand, a rug is also an aesthetic object in itself, irrespective of the purpose to which it is put. Just where rug-making falls can serve as the topic for endless debates, but you only have to look at the exquisite creations of designers such as Thibault Van Renne to see that some rugs are, indisputably, a creative medium.
In fact, rugs have always had a mutually beneficial relationship with the art world, with each drawing on the other for inspiration. You can see that for yourself at some of London’s famous rug shops. Bazaar Velvet, for example, are Chelsea-based rug designers who effortlessly demonstrate why rugs should be counted as art objects in their own right, with their uniquely expressive designs clearly in dialogue with the rest of the art world. These are just a few of their most noteworthy rugs and collections.
This rug collection by Bazaar Velvet draws on London’s edgy street art scene and transplants it into the world of high-end rug-making. The Maid is a Banksy-inspired piece, which has been reworked to create a bold and contemporary design. The Queenie has similar influences, and uses those influences to create an evocative blend of novelty and tradition. With a slightly rebellious, anarchic aesthetic, paired with an infectious sense of humour, these rugs have captured the essence of urban street art and brought it into the interior design landscape.
This abstract rug, Bazaar Velvet’s Open Plan design, uses shape in a manner which will remind some of Rothko, though its palette is far more subdued, with subtle beiges, greys and browns working in concert to create a tasteful, elegant piece. Rug designers have significantly more scope now to explore shape in their work than they have enjoyed in the past. Where before rugs tended to be tightly patterned and highly symmetrical, designers today are able to introduce far more varied shapes and sizes into the finished piece. The Open Plan is a good example of what can be achieved when that freedom is put to good use. Its sophisticated approach, clearly drawing on the cannon of contemporary abstract painting, lends a refined quality to the finished product, elevating it to the status of high art in itself.
The Silk Flash design delves further back into the history of art. While still undeniably contemporary, there are traces of the early twentieth century to be found in these pieces. Vorticist inspiration is especially apparent in the Silk Flash Indigo, the stark colours and sharp angles of which bear the clear influence of that forward-thinking movement. Bazaar Velvet’s Starburst designs are also worth exploring for a comparable aesthetic.
The exquisite interplay between craftsmanship and art is evident throughout the Bazaar Velvet showroom. Each rug is hand-knotted by experienced artisans using traditional techniques, yet expressed a style and grace beyond what, in the hands of inferior rug makers, can be a restrictive form. Bazaar Velvet’s timeless designs demonstrate that a true artist can work in any medium.