A Walk on the Bolder Side-The History of Art Deco Rugs and Carpet

Posted on: June 12th, 2013 by webadmin

Art Deco was a style of architecture and interior design, popular from about 1925 to

1940, which had geometrical designs and bold colors as the main characteristics.


Art Deco rugs were first introduced to the public in Paris at the 1925 World’s Fair

Exhibition of Modern and Industrial Decorative Art. The interior of the exhibition space

was decorated with these rugs, which became an instant craze thereafter. Art deco rugs

reflect modern elements paired with unique traditions, inspired by individual artists.

During this time, these rugs featured bold designs that could become a focal point and

statement piece rather than a pleasant background for furniture. Many anonymous firm-employed designers who were suffering in the economic environment following WWI

became freelance weavers, creating luxurious custom pieces for private clients. Art deco

rugs reached the height of their popularity between 1925 and 1937 with production

falling dramatically due to the events that led up to WWII.


The rugs that US-born designer Marion Dorn and her husband Edward McKnight Kauffer

created in their London studio are among the most sought-after pieces that epitomize

the angular style of art deco designs.


The studio in China operated by Walter Nichols had wove their own magic brand of art

deco carpets while Betty Joel created her unique designs for private clients. As the

legendary Maison Myrbor studio in Northern Africa manufactured carpets for French


designers such as Jean Lurcat and Joan Miro. Ranging in styles from abstract Berbers

decorated with tribal details to pictorials with mythical influences.


In France, the creation of decorative rugs in Aubusson and at the Savonnerie continued

during the early twentieth century. While a smaller number of manufacturers and artists

began experimenting with more flamboyant and ornamental rug designs that

complemented the spirit of modernity and met the demand of the middle class for luxury carpets. It is these designer rugs that are the epitome of the Deco style, though an

overall shift in French Art Deco rug designs from primarily floral, figurative, and

medallion compositions to more minimalist or abstract rug designs began to occur by the late 1920’s as the Functionalism of Modernism began to shape the industry.


Among the most well-known Art Deco rug designers in France were Ivan Da Silva

Bruhns (1881-1980) and Paule Leleu (1906-87). The linear rugs designed by Ivan Da

Silva Bruhns drew their inspiration from Oceanic, African and Pre-Columbian arts, in

contrast to those by Leleu, who generally favored symmetrical arrangements and

repeating geometric motifs. In France the demand for designer rugs in the 1920’s was

so great that Da Silva Bruhns opened his own workshop and French department stores

added rugs designed by artists and designers to their collections. The major Parisian

store of the time, a` La Place Clichy, concentrated on Oriental rugs starting in the late

19th century. They also began commissioning rugs in the 1920’s by many well-known

Modernist rug designers such as Rene’ Crevel, Edouard Be’ne’dictus, and Emile



In contrast to the Art Deco rugs of France, those from Sweden tended to be more

restrained in their compositions and smaller in size. By the late 19th century, several

schools were opened to teach women the textile arts, which later helped contribute to

Sweden’s standing as one the most important centers of Modernist rug production in

Europe. Due to the fact that textiles, known as ryas, were produced traditionally in

Sweden for domestic use as coverings for beds and did not serve primarily as floor

coverings, they were often smaller in size. Larger rugs to be used as floor coverings

were made mainly for the aristocratic and royal residences. Given the traditional

absence of large rugs in their culture, Modernist and Deco rugs from Sweden also tend

to be smaller when compared to rugs produced elsewhere in Europe at the time. Often,

when larger rugs were created, they were often comprised of several small rugs seamed



During the Great Depression in 1929, there was a temporary lapse in producing Art

Deco rugs which made the genuine pieces very rare and expensive to find, making them

sought after by collectors. Now there are a wide variety of options for the average

consumer, due to the reproduction of these rugs.


Art Deco rugs are in a field of their own. They’re still very usable as actual rugs, and are

frequently used as decorative floor covering, just as they were meant to be. Also, some

collectors proudly frame or otherwise display their finds on the wall, like tapestries, to

preserve their beauty and elegance.