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The Evolution of Persian Rug Designs


Cyrus Yaraghi of Safavieh says machine-made vintage Persian rug looks have touched today's consumers and fostered innovation in the industry.

Retailers and designers shopping the Atlanta International Rug Market (one of the biggest rug events in the USA) next week will see a continued emphasis on designs reinterpreting classic Persian motifs into on-point fashion statements.

Whether impacted by the recent lifting of the U.S. Embargo on Iranian carpets or recent advances in machine-made rug technology, area rug and oriental rug consumers are gravitating to new Persian rug looks en masse -- regardless of decorating style and budget.

The new Chester collection debuting in Atlanta will is hand-knotted of wool viscose in transitional, post-modern interpretations of Persian designs. asked Safavieh principal, Cyrus Yaraghi, to walk us through the evolution, and how the company is meeting the demand for new looks this market. "We have been in a unique position since Safavieh opened its doors in Manhattan. From the beginning, our showroom worked with interior designers on customizing Oriental rug designs with more contemporary pattern placement and pale, neutral colors," Yaraghi explained.

"I think that was the beginning of the trend: it started in the high end when we introduced our Pak Persian hand knotted rugs to the designer market in 1980, and led us to begin programming what we called the High Touch Tibetan collection in 1986. But the biggest impact we saw on the consumer and designer was when we launched a programed hand-knotted Peshawar collection in 2001."

Impact of the Internet

Yaraghi says the company then went on to program collections of reproductions of Oriental carpets from particular regions, such the Persian Sultanabad and Lavar collections. Hand-tufted collections followed, and as more and more retailers began selling rugs on the Internet, the company adapted with its first machine made indoor collection, Lyndhurst, in 2006.

"The biggest surprise was how the industry went from high-end rugs to machine-made, and how quickly it happened. The industry was hand-knotted and high quality for hundreds of years, and in less than a decade it was transformed," Yaraghi said. "Whether it was the result of the recession in 2008, or consumers trending to buying rugs online - and comparison shopping for price - the industry turned its attention to improving the design and quality of machine mades."

From the best-selling Persian Vintage power loomed collection by Safavieh, a new design features traditional motifs updated in vivid colors and heirloom patina.

What's New Now?

At summer markets, Safavieh will introduce Persian inspired designs from a holistic approach, expanding its machine made vintage collections and adding new handmade collections in wool and also in blends of wool and viscose. "Chester, one of our new hand-made lines is very reasonably priced. The designs are transitional and postmodern looks which are trending now," he explained. Distressing, texture and antique finishes will also play a key role in Safavieh introductions.

Atlanta market-goers will find one of the company's most successful collections, Persian Vintage, expanded with new designs. "We introduced our first machine made viscose Vintage collection two years ago and we are projecting this trend to continue another five, six or even seven years," Yaraghi explained.

"Similar market hits in the past were tufted Persian looks, and the Tabriz look with viscose. They were introduced for the first time in 2000 and remained strong until 2010. When something touches the consumer like these trends did, more retailers want to offer them, and the exposure makes the trend grow even bigger."

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