My name is Lisa Borgnes Giramonti and I am a vintage textile addict.
(Stack of rugs from Rugs and Art)
My latest obsession is a shop in Beverly Hills called Rugs and Art (436 S. Robertson, 310-247-1176) that I've been visiting with increasing frequency for about two years now.* Wally, the genial owner, and his son Sammy always indulge my candy shop cravings and assist me in unrolling as many gorgeous antique carpets as my heart desires (even if they know I'm not buying). They understand I need my "fix."
Their stock ranges from priceless centuries-old Aubusson tapestries (the kind you'd find hanging in a Belgian castle designed by Axel Vervoordt) to smaller antique rugs that are perfect for adding a little history to your foyer or dining room, and at prices that compare favorably with big box stores (I'm not kidding).
During my recent art show, Wally was kind enough to lend me a rug for the installation in the center of the gallery.
After the show came down, the rug had successfully burrowed its way into my heart. It currently graces my "forever-a-work-in-progress" bedroom.
To me, old rugs are a colorful narrative that link the handmade past to the hi-tech present. Literal pieces of history, they give a room a vibrant heart and add texture, color and drama to any space. I have an especial fondness for threadbare ones that have seen better days: their condition makes me long to know the tales behind the worn patches and ghostly footsteps and worn patches.
Since that's impossible, when I look at a rug, I weave a backstory for it...
Did it live in the dining room of a 19th century Danish sea captain? Is it in such pristine condition because he was away 8 months of the year and they rarely held dinner parties?
(Painting by Carl Holsoe)
Did it come from the study of a widowed English vicar? Is one particular area of the rug more worn because his faithful cocker spaniel sat patiently by his feet as he toiled away on his never-to-be-published memoirs?
(Edward Bawden, "Life in an English Village", 1949)
Was the rug part of a royal household? Did future kings romp and play upon it with childish abandon beneath the disapproving images of their forbears?
(Johan Zoffany, "George, Prince of Wales, and Frederick,
later Duke of York", c. 1764-65)
The masterfully photographed book "In Rooms" features quite a few swoonworthy spaces with tattered heirloom carpets that make you ache to sit down on a kilim-covered sofa, crack open a leather-bound copy of Boswell's "Life of Johnson" and sip a wee dram of amontillado sherry.
(Villa Malplaquet photographed by Derry Moore)
It's pure heresy to follow a monumental photo like the one above with an image of my little Hollywood dining room, but in its own very small way, I think my aged-to-perfection rug lends my 1935 house an eminence that belies its relatively youthful age.
Sadly, despite my love for rugs, I am completely clueless when it comes to identifying them by category, name or country...so driving by Rugs and Art the other day, I decided to go in and make Wally tell me the names of some of my favorite styles.
Ready? Some of you probably know the names of them already; if so, award yourself 50 points and go watch "The Real Housewives" reunion. Everybody else, read and be enlightened.
*Note: I took very close-up photos of the rugs to give you a sense of their vibrancy and detail. Obviously, they are much more subtle when viewed from farther away.
This type of triangular geometric pattern identifies the rug as a Turkish kilim. Now you know, now I know.
(Detail, Turkish kilim, 1930's, Rugs and Art)
In Annie Kelly's new book "Rooms to Inspire in the City", master decorator Peter Dunham uses a kilim in his dining room. There's no arguing with that seal of approval.
(Photo by Tim Street-Porter)
Here's another one that caught my eye: can everybody say "Konya kilim"? If you ask me, those dense patterns make it virtually stainproof -- perfect for a high-traffic area.
(Konya Turkish kilim, 19th century, Rugs and Art)
This next one is a Caucasian Chi Chi carpet. (Did anybody get that correct?)
(Caucasian Chi Chi rug, 19th century, Rugs and Art)
This next little rug is actually a Turkish grain sack from the 1930's. The fact that someone would so exhaustively embroider a bag used for daily transport is incredible to me. It's about 3' x 5' and would make a perfect bath mat for a sleek woodsy-modern bathroom.
(Turkish embroidered sack, 1930's, Rugs and Art)
This rug is also a Caucasian. I'm not normally a pink person, but this rug transcends its hue, evoking the wistful palette of sunset, twilight and the gloaming.
(Caucasian rug, 19th century, Rugs and Art)
In a wonderful bit of serendipity, I found a photo from one of my design files which shows a rug almost exactly like the Caucasian above. Subtly elegant and seriously gorgeous, no?
(Room design by Tim Clarke. Photographer unknown.
If you know, email me.)
Red rugs aren't for everyone, but they have a passion and a vitality that is inescapable.
(William Merritt Chase, "The Studio")
This red rug is called a Verne kilim. Love that fish pattern.
(Turkish kilim Verne, 19th century, Rugs and Art)
I had to take a photo of Wally's stacks and stacks of rainbow-hued, museum-quality suzanis, ripe for the picking.
(Suzanis, Rugs and Art)
One of my favorite stacks to look through is his remnants pile. This is where you go if you want to recover a chair or make a gorgeous pillow or cushion.
(Remnants pile, Rugs and Art)
Here, Wally upholstered this chair with a vintage kilim remnant.
(Upholstered chair, Rugs and Art)
I love this one, too. Kilim, you say? You would be correct.
(Turkish pillow kilim, 1920's-1930's, Rugs and Art)
And this oversized pillow made from an old Turkeman rug says, "Do you have any idea how comfortable I am?"
(Pillow made from 1930's Turkaman rug, Rugs and Art)
Here's another photo I found from an old Elle Decor. The combination of rugs, vintage textiles, books and that lovely oil portrait adds up to a room that's steeped in the past but still feels relevant today.
(Photograph by William Waldron; thank you, Style Court!)
Just two more pictures and then I promise I'll let you get on with your day...
Look at Rudolf Nureyev in this photo. Would you just look at that man? Swaddled in exoticism like a Middle Eastern potentate. Oh, that I could drape textiles like that around me and go to lunch at my neighborhood bistro and not be deemed a freak. I think the only places you can still get away with sartorial eccentricity like that are the Far and Middle East. (Note to self: book flight to India/Mongolia/Kazakhstan stat.)
(Photograph by David Seidner; via here)
And his bedroom. Enough said.
(Photograph by David Seidner; via here)
Okay, now go forth with visions of vivid hues and tribal patterns and faraway destinations and colorful adventures in your heads and see the world today through that rose-colored lens. Peace be with you.
*If you do happen to stop by Rugs and Art, mention this blog and Wally will be happy to give you a special discount.