UNDERSTANDING THE MID-CENTURY MODERN RUG COLLECTION

Rug & Kilim’s New Approach
to 1950s Style in Luxury Rugs

Mid-Century Modern Collection

The Mid-Century Modern Collection by Rug & Kilim represents founder Josh Nazmiyal’s hope to honor the iconic aesthetic pioneered by designers of the 1950s in the limelight of modern design as it’s never been presented in the luxury rug industry before. These newly released additions represent the first major production of mid-century style fabric patterns as custom, high-quality luxury rugs in our collaboration with both established and up-and-coming artists sharing our passion for the style.

The collection is the product of several years researching and refining our approach to large-scale drawing, texture, and color in a constantly refined method of capturing the pattern. Collaborative new pieces just joining the line marry post-war and atomic age design sensibilities with new design elements as our team collaborates with foundations representing the pioneers of the design as well as contemporary artists sharing Josh’s passion for the historic style.

Including quality wool, a blend of exotic yarns from our collection and brilliant, luminous silk highlighting key colorways in varied pieces, the library in our Mid Century Modern Collection promises to become one of the most uniquely joyful and reliable resource for decorators sharing our passion for both offering homage and embracing something new in the world of luxury interiors.

The mere mention of mid-century modern style has earned such a foothold in the designer’s mind that it near-immediately conjures the experiments in form with smooth-angled furniture and unmistakable textile patterns — the lion’s share of which emerged from the post-modern WW2 design innovations that breathed life and color back into a bleak, industrial period in production. Much like our Scandinavian Collection, what drew our team to study the mid century modern style in adapting it to our medium (beyond the obvious love of the fabulous work) was to understand it less as a style and more as a movement; a particularly fitting correlation given that our Mid-Century Modern rug collection initially began as an extension of our Scandinavian Collection. More than sharing their halcyon days in the mid-20th century, both the Scandinavian Modernist and Mid-Century Modern design movements were driven by creative personalities of the period — with many icons behind Scandinavian design having influenced the European and American icons of the 1950s in no coincidence.

To our team, honoring the style in mid-century modern rug making is to honor the pioneers and futurists who brought the now-celebrated style into being in the same way we’ve presented it to the market for the first time — likewise, honoring the modern artists, collaborators, and representatives of foundations who’ve become a part of our journey. 

Understanding Mid Century Modern Rugs and Styles 

Bauhus Rug
A minimalist Mid-Century Modern Bauhaus rug from our collection’s newest additions.

While the term mid century modern inspires a clearer consensus in other realms of art and luxury furnishings — particularly in painting and the bold-edged style of furniture arguably most connotative of the phrase — the terms mid century and mid century modern share a variety of connotations in and adjacent to our industry. In the collector’s context regarding furnishings and vintage curations, mid century refers precisely to objects and styles originating roughly between 1940-1960, whereas mid-century modern in the luxury rug industry has been used interchangeably for rugs from this era and modern rugs aspiring to capture this era. Some academics and art historians consider mid century modern to apply to works in multiple fields as late as the early 1970s, remarking the persistence of the style in the works created long after the strict definition of its nomenclature. 

Bauhaus rug
Bold Albers inspired geometry in a 6×12 from our collection.

The principles of mid-century modernism leading to the movement and style widely known today can be traced back as early as the Bauhaus movement, with further inspirations in geometry, curvature, and bold color tracing back to the Scandinavian textile world in its halcyon days of the 1930s onward. 

Some of the most influential and collaborative movements in art and design have had a hand in forming the unprecedented mid-century modern style, but like our other favorite collections the Mid-Century Modern collection was driven by people — the artists from Scandinavia, Europe, the United States and well beyond all regarded as icons in modern academia. 

European Pioneers in Mid-Century Modern 

Decades after the Bauhaus movement was born and the weavers behind Scandinavian Modernism were receiving international attention, post-World War 2 Britain became home to an unprecedented renaissance in the textile industry across Europe that brought the world back to life following the grim, industrial period. Travelled artists from there and Scotland, France, Italy, Austria, and beyond — including award-winning icons and remembered pioneers like Robert Stewart, Lucienne Day, Marian Mahler, Jacqueline Groag, the late Terence Conran and more — first began to play with individualistic approaches with the notable common denominators of joyful color and playful, wild patterns with abstract sensibility. 

The aptly named “atomic age” intersecting art and design had begun, a sister movement to the retro sensibilities that would long persist into the 1970s and see subsequent revival generations later in modernity. A similar spirit of academia like that of the Scandinavian textile movement — one championed in no small part by women artists of the period from a variety of renowned universities — began to normalize creativity, femininity and a more vibrant energy to manufacturers of home furnishings who gave a platform to emerging trailblazers of form and function. David Whitehead and Sons, Liberty, Pringle, Donald Brothers, and a handful of manufacturers brought mid-century textiles, tapestries, and a variety of mediums into the domestic theater, bringing into maturity the already celebrated works that had begun premiering in festivals and expositions around the continent. 

Though there’s a diverse range of mid-century modern styles represented in our current collection, the post-modern European style that has never been represented in the world of high-end luxury rugs has been an unmatched source of inspiration for Josh as the collection has found its footing. Holding few names in such high regard as Stewart and contemporaries of his time, Josh is seeking to redefine mid-century modern rugs through our own take on the style and pay homage to these pioneers via pioneering in our own field, even communicating with estates and foundations of mid-century artists to the same degree as he has been collaborating with modern artists taking on the style. 

Contemporaries in American Mid-Century Modern Design

As the rug and textile industry in Scandinavia had Marta Maas Fjetterstrom and her contemporaries while Europe had a growing cadre of painters and crafters, the United States in the 1940s had the eclectic, multidisciplinary duo of Ray and Charles Eames producing some of their first works just following the halcyon days of the great Frank Lloyd Wright

Mid-Century Modern rug
Our 6×8 dot pattern rug of Eames sensibility.

Before they were married in 1941, Charles and Ray had already begun making a name for themselves in their respective fields, with Charles having his own architectural office and Ray painting and designing for the MOMA among her many promising accolades. Not long after moving to California and earning no small renown for their WWII feats of structural engineering, architecture and pattern work, the incorporation of a diverse influences, including but not limited to Scandinavian linear principles, lent to the Eames’ unmistakable style in each of their multiple fields — particularly, the funky yet idyllic dot patterns that inspired some of the most well-received patterns in our own Mid-Century Modern rug collection to this day. 

Mid-Century Modern rug
Rug & Kilim’s Mid-Century Modern dot pattern rug, drawing inspiration from the principals of Eames dot patterns of the mid-20th Century.

Inheritors of the Style in our Collection 

Equaled only by preserving the spirit of pioneering and paying homage, the Mid-Century Modern Collection has also embraced collaboration as an ongoing, essential aspect of the design effort. In addition to reaching out to representatives of the original masters, in the three years since the inception of the project Rug & Kilim has welcomed a small host of up-and-coming artists sharing Josh’s passion for the style with a phenomenal early response. Welcoming some of his own favorite painters, illustrators and makers of multiple fields, the marriage of Josh’s 40 years of industry and custom rug experience with the work of these artists has born some of the most exciting modern rugs in our collection so far. 

Jenn Ski 

Mid-Century Modern rug

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts representing the team at Lilla Rogers Studio, modern artist Jenn Ski has been designing and producing an impressive collection of mid-century modern patterns in illustrations, books, home furnishings, giclée prints, and a variety of fashionable mediums exemplifying the smart, retro nature of her work that drew Josh to our excited collaboration. Sharing our passion for the particular post-modern style, Jenn Ski’s collaboration with Rug & Kilim represents the first representation of her work in our medium, with some of her current works favoring the mobile and cocktail style patterns emerging in the 1950s — connoting a remarkable student of the era who proudly references her home being built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Mid-Century Modern rug

With each of the artists enjoying their own distinguishable take on this period, the translation of Ski’s style and its marriage with our approach to scale and color has born some of the best negotiations between the vintage retro style and a refined modern rug. Her mobile patterns in particular look fabulous in a variety of material blends, both in pure wool and a shimmering blend of wool and silk highlighting the meticulous detail with a sense of character and fabulous movement.

Campbell Laird 

A native son of Tasmania boasting an extensive portfolio of his own, Campbell Laird’s work in digital art, paintings, prints, and other mediums speaks with a voice as bold as it is intelligent in the world of luxury art — represented in an equally impressive array of exhibitions, TV and film welcoming his intriguing multi-faceted approach. While working out of his studio in California following a traveled career, Laird’s first talks with Josh during a fortuitous visit to New York City marked the meeting of kindred spirits, sharing a love of experimentation and mid-century modern style akin to that which drew our team to reach out. 

Mid-Century Modern rug
Mid-Century Modern rug

 The editions of Laird’s “Boobyalla No. 2” design are worth noting in the success of their translation to the medium of luxury mid-century modern rugs in our collection — this pattern’s inviting, intelligent nature and painterly employ of colors offering a sophisticated tone in our graph. 

El Gato Gomez 

Another California native, the works of El Gato Gomez were as arresting and enigmatic as the name she took in founding her studio, exemplifying what we mean when we refer to our collaborators as unmistakable in style. Arguably the boldest and funkiest of illustrators, painters, and digital artists we’ve represented in the collection, El Gato’s feline signature and atomic age style have been seen on some of the wildest works of pictorial illustration, canvas art, and various fashion lines in the field, catching Josh’s eye in a way few other artists have. 

Mid-Century Modern rug
Mid-Century Modern rug

There’s a range to El Gato’s work that cannot be understated in the discussion of a style that’s never been seen in our industry before — especially in her pictorials where some works enjoy lively, gotham-like sensibility and others depict other-worldly settings capturing the eye like no other. In the effort to do justice to a movement born of creative personalities, Josh was drawn to El Gato’s work and remains confident to see her “retro futurism” received like no other mid-century modern rugs have in the market before following Rug & Kilim’s recent unveiling of our collaboration. 

Nikita Nagpal 

A neo-New Yorker from New Delhi, India, Nikita Nagpal serves Rug & Kilim as Surface Designer leading both our in-house art department and our design department in India, utilizing an extensive background and an equally impressive passion for the industry. An honors bachelor of arts in Fashion Design with an MFA in Fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design, 2019 marked Nikita as the recipient of the prestigious Red Dot Award for Design Concepts in Material Innovation, the IDA Design Awards, Gold, and a published Finalist in the Dorothy Waxman Textile Design Prize. With multiple bold, pioneering projects under her belt, Nikita believes in the beauty and necessity of Process Art, a builder with a deep love of all things tactile now working directly with Josh Nazmiyal in their common passion for material innovation and creation.

Though she’s led the contributions in each of our private collections, since Nikita joined Rug & Kilim her work has arguably reigned among the most honorific of the old masters of mid-century modern style. Her sense of movement and the textures that have arisen from her recent additions to the collection represent the ideal of a designer inspired by a movement—ever seeking homage to the style of origin while never losing her individualistic approach. To wit, her growing body of work is already becoming some of the most well-received new project inspirations for interior designers among our colleagues open to the boldness of a mid-century modern rug pallet. In the process of marrying her own style, keeping her handwriting intact while maintaining the key design elements of inspiration—particularly boldness of depth like that seen in her take on the post-modern cocktail pattern. Her recent work, exploring a departure from superimposition for a more abstract sensibility, truly represents her take on the style keeping with Josh’s desire to be a contributor to the style, even as we pioneer the introduction of the aesthetic in the industry. 

Project Ideas for a Mid-Century Modern Rug

Liken to the ongoing process of learning how to represent this new take on mid-century modern rugs in the collection, Josh’s effort to represent the new mid-century modern rug has inspired intriguing responses among our designers and colleagues sharing our passion for the growing archive of rugs. The work so far — welcoming full service in custom size, custom color, and custom material blend available for each pattern — inspires thoughts of maximalist interior design with as much validity as the ideally retro interiors we foresee representing the work as it enters the market; possibilities abound. Among the current stock in gift size rugs, gallery rugs, area rugs, and runners — including but not limited to stock in 3×5, 4×6, 6×8, 6×9, 4×10, 8×10, 4×12 runners, 9×12, 5×14, and 6×12 rugs — is a lively range of colors matched only by the diversity of pattern capturing retro, chic, and vintage sensibility with an unmatched refinement no matter the style. 

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Scandinavian

The Scandinavian Collection presents geometric designs delineated with varying pile heights for tactile emphasis, with numerous fresh, refined patterns woven in a unique variety of yarns and classic colorways. Often referred to by Josh Nazmiyal as “a new language in design” the modernist collection celebrates our unprecedented textural diversity, a formidable Kilim line never seen in these spacious sizes, and an exciting departure from traditional geometry that simultaneously embodies the original design.

Some of the most well-received patterns have drawn inspiration from mid-century pioneers of the aesthetic, reimagined with Josh’s deep reverence of the style and his drive to present the vintage style with the utmost quality and possibility. To that end essential functional concerns were innovated, especially in the flat weaves where the original pieces were fewer, smaller and more vulnerable to folding underfoot and we’ve achieved a durable body resistant to buckling or shifting like traditional flat weaves. A number of our Scandinavian Kilim pieces likewise enjoy a subtle, intriguing colorway variation created through the aforementioned blend of undyed, natural yarns, lending to a unique, tasteful sense of movement complementing the classic geometry.

Our goal was to ensure that the soul of Scandinavian design aesthetic in both functionality and minimalism was observed, while durability, beauty and restraint were addressed in kind.
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