London-based rug designer Luke Irwin is gracing the US with his gorgeous creations through the opening of his first stateside store in New York this coming fall. A rock star in the design world, Irwin’s client base is wide spreading, from British and European royalty to members of both U2 and The Rolling Stones. With bespoke colors, weaves and textures, no two Luke Irwin rugs are the same. Most recently, the brand has expanded to include Persian hand-knit weaves (traditionally reserved for antique rugs) as well as berbers and cashmere varieties in addition to his staple Tibetan designs.
1. How did you get started in the rug business?
It was entirely accidental. I had been in the theater and antiques business and happened to be sitting beside a 12 year old at a lunch party one day who was half Tibetan. It turned out that his father was a master weaver and so it began. It would seem with rugs that either you are the 18th generation in the family business or you come into it by chance. I was the world’s worst employee and realized that I had to have my own business, as it was just not fair to expect anyone else to employ me. I had always had a very strong aesthetic sense and this was a brilliant way of focusing it.
2. What sets your rugs apart?
My rugs aren’t dreamed up by a committee or any third parties, so strange as it may sometimes seem, there is a cohesion to my designs as it all comes from me. We are not looking to give you an instant gratification rug in terms of the visual; this is all about sophistication and subtlety. There is a timelessness to the rugs, so they should never be out of fashion; after years of owning it, it should still work in your interiors and you should still love it.
3. Where do you look for inspiration for your designs? Is there any period or any country that you find particularly interesting?
There is inspiration everywhere but I think, in a sense, we have lost the ability to see. We are obsessed by our iPhones and iPads and are always looking down even when outside; we have lost the sense of wonder in what is around and would rather look at it on a screen. I am always amazed when I see tourists filming things rather than just looking at it for real. You are so detached when you are behind the camera. I can find inspiration in almost any country and from any period of history.
4. We heard the Obamas have one of your rugs. Did you get a chance to meet them?
Sadly, no. I think that they are extraordinary and inspirational.
5. What made you decide to open a showroom in New York?
New York is fun and there is a level of sophistication there that transcends anywhere else.
6. How do you think the American market differs from the UK with regards to their design preferences?
Funny enough, there is not a marked different in design as much as in color. I find that the hues chosen in the US in general are much more neutral than elsewhere.
7. What is the greatest mistake people often make when buying rugs?
Generally, they buy the wrong size. Always go bigger than you think you need, you can always cut it down if it is too big but if it is too small, there’s not much you can do.
8. What inspired your latest collection, Tarantella?
Tarantella is based on peasant textile design from Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries. I love the structured simplicity and, in some cases, the sophistication of it.
9. What can you never leave home without?
10. The royal baby is soon approaching. What rug would you recommend for the nursery?
My Exercise rug to keep them busy, my Parrots rug to make them smile and my Galleons rug to remind them of lost empires.
Lately we are loving these new designs from Luke’s collection, Tarantella. Check out more, here!