A post-graduate trek through Nepal, the quest for an heirloom relic and the beauty of Southeast Asian textiles: For Diane Elson Bankoff, founder and creative director of Georgetown-based rug brand Elson & Company, these seemingly unrelated things came together to alter the course of her life. Inspired by the country’s handwoven floorcoverings, Bankoff, who studied architecture and antique carpet appraisal, returned home from Nepal, not with her desired memento, but with a mission to design and produce her own rugs. “I aim to bring innovation to this early medium,” she says of her Tibetan carpets and dhurries, which draw upon the principles of historical technique. “A lot of what I do is merging the old with the new.” This old-world craftsmanship marries impeccably with Bankoff’s preferred sophisticated, modern aesthetic, achieved through collaborations with notable designers like Oscar de la Renta and Lulu deKwiatkowski. “I think what’s most magical is when you design something that succeeds in different environments,” she says. “To me, that is the golden ticket.”
LX: Design muse:
DB: I often reference well-known creative director Fabien Baron. He’s captured the essence of what we’re all going for—something that’s special but not overwhelming or boring.
LX: Trend you’re excited by:
DB: The Pantone color Margarita is a fresh take on light green; we’re currently using it for a few of our new projects.
LX: Go-to decorating sources:
DB: John Rosselli & Associates, for timeless pieces and beautiful fabrics; David Bell Antiques, for one-of-a-kind items; and One Kings Lane, for accessories.
LX: Greatest influence:
DB: Frank Babb Randolph is a D.C.-based designer and friend. He has taught me so much over the past 10 years about color and architecture, and has helped expand my knowledge base to make long-term decorative decisions.
LX: Favorite hotel:
DB: Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy. I love the patterned tile floors, the bright glossy doors and the attention to detail.