«A while back, flipping a German Architectural Digest magazine waiting for a flight, an advert for a rug jumped out from the page. I’d never seen designs like this before. Little did I know what I was looking at has become iconic and it’s designer celebrated around the world.»
The designer was Jan Kath and the rug was from his Erased Heritage range. What made it so different was that Jan took a traditional design and by layering over it, partially concealing the pattern, he had created something quite radical. Through experimenting with erosion, decay and corrosion he devised a new aesthetic for rug design so influential that lesser manufacturers attempted to copy his work. However having been to see how Jan makes his rugs, it is clear that it would be harder to forge one than a £50 note.
Jan Kath’s rugs are seen on the floors of the showrooms of a world famous French fashion brand and he has been commissioned by a star architect to create a collection for the lobbies of his new international buildings. They start life however, in the Nepalese hills surrounding the crazy city of Kathmandu using hand dyed Chinese silk and Tibetan wool which being high in lanolin is resistant to staining.
I have been to each of his factories around the city, seeing every part of the process. He literally starts off with a pile of unspun wool and finishes four months later with an exquisite rug. Jan’s designs are complex and detailed requiring skilled labour at every stage to execute them.
Jan’s Spacecrafted range shows his work at its best, the work is incredible. He took shots from the Hubble Space Telescope and then translated them into intricate almost infinitely detailed rugs. Only the best weaver can work in such detail with up to 200 knots in a square inch. The result is an art form and quite moving to look at.
Quite different to his other work Jan has designed a range inspired by old southern Russian designs from around 1900 featuring lavish floral patterns using rich, bright colours, called From Russia with Love. They are a delight to look at and would work well in a period home to make a room feel edgy without being modern.
With Jan Kath we have one of those rare and valuable moments where we find a talented artist and skilled craftsmen colliding to create an object of true value.
Focus/17: You can find me at the FRONT showroom, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour on 18 September, 11- 12am demonstrating how to use bespoke rugs by Jan Kath in interior design projects. Details here.