Prominent Designers–On the Carpet

The architecture of today’s exemplary interiors displays a plethora of pattern, color and texture. In this supplement we have selected numerous interiors that illustrate innovative treatments of rooms with hand made carpets. The floor plane has, once again, become an opportunity for innovative design and has emerged as another canvas no less important than the walls and furniture. And color, from its most subtle shades to its brightest and most saturated best, has returned.

Mario Buatta’s penchant for richness of color and eclectic display of pattern is seen in much of his work. He likes to use English pile and European needlepoint carpets with their Victorian character. Buatta’s work is widely recognized for its imaginative use of diverse pattern and color and he finds the choice of hand woven carpets currently available in the market very exciting.

Gaining popularity, he says, are the grandly flowered Bessarabian carpets and flatweaves. Bessarabia is a region in Moldavia, formerly in Romania, on the western shore of the Black Sea. Antique weavings from this region are scarce. New production from Kashmir, China and Romania is now being imported and offers the rich palette and European floral design that many designers seek. For flat woven textures, Buatta is using a few modern Indian dhurries, but prefers fine antique ones when he can find them.

Pattern in both abstract geometric and naturalistic floral motifs is profuse in all types of Oriental carpets. While some settings require a densely figured ground, others will adapt themselves to a more subtle and spacious open field. Whatever concept the designer wishes to establish in a room, there is a wide choice of fascinating patterns available. The arrangement of pattern in a carpet can enhance the visual focus of a room and the placement of other furnishings. A strong central medallion is very effective in bringing one’s attention to that area. This can establish parameters for seating as it has done in the Saltram Dining room (see previous page), or it can reduce the scale of a particularly voluminous space by attracting one’s attention to a smaller area.

Conversely, an overall pattern without a dominant central medallion can serve to extend one’s view horizontally over the space. This can be particularly beneficial in a small area where the perception of openness is desired. The use of a modern dhurrie by Cronin-Stempler Designers in their Kips Bay Showcase House setting is an excellent example of this (see above). Pattern in all its forms and scale is being welcomed as a useful tool for the interior designer. But color remains as the most important concern in the conceptualization of a room or office design.


The modern Oriental carpet industry has made great progress in offering their carpets in a wide range of color choices. Even so, a buyer will be advised to exercise some flexibility on color selection. This is especially true if a carpet is being selected for an existing room where the wall colors and fabrics are not being changed. Color match will be more difficult. For this reason, many designers make selection of the Oriental carpet a priority at the early stages of the design process. They will often choose it first as the anchor for a room around which the palette, scale of pattern and placement of furnishings is built. New York designer Samuel Botero gives the selection of the Oriental carpet his best attention at the beginning of a job. His carpets always establish or reinforce the overall concept and are a primary design element in much of his residential work.

Botero finds that his clients are not so interested in the somewhat somber colors of navy blue and deep burgundy. Those dark palettes were very popular just over a generation ago. In Europe they still are. He likes to use the Art Deco design carpets woven first in China in the 1930’s and now being revived in India and Nepal. Some of his most successful rooms have used antique Ushak (Turkey), Heriz (Iran) and Agra (India) carpets that feature green, celadon and terra-cotta colors. For special effects Botero uses boldly geometric kilims from Turkey and Iran. These flat woven rugs can be placed on the floor or mounted on a wall and their texture is like that of a tapestry. He finds their geometric designs well suited for giving a modern look to a room and being easily integrated into other furnishings and fabrics.