Modern-rug purveyor and witty Brit Christopher Farr chats with Dwell about 25 years in the business and doles out advice for every type of carpet buyer.
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How did you get started? I started making rugs in 1987. Back then, “new rug” was kind of a dirty phrase; everyone wanted antique.
What kinds of rugs do Los Angeles customers want as opposed to those shopping your London showroom? The main difference is color, which relates to light. The sharp clarity of light typical of Southern California means less saturation is needed for the color to pop. In London, you need richer, warmer tones to blend with the diffused light.
What advice would you give to a first-time rug buyer? There’s never been a market like there is now in terms of breadth of quality and price point. You can get incredible carpets for relatively reasonable prices. I love that West Elm is selling Berber rugs from Morocco and that its buyers are going right to the source.
How about some advice for someone looking to buy an heirloom-quality piece? I would look at companies that have been around and who have a track record of working on high-end, custom projects. Look for longevity and designers who are sincere and not just grabbing onto trends.
What are some immutable tenets of good rug design? Little has changed in 2,000 years or more. You could argue that the art of dyeing fibers once used in Persia could never be improved upon in terms of intensity and color saturation. The Persians also had incredible skill in hand-knotting and dyeing techniques, which can be equaled, at best, today.
From where do you source your yarn and weavers? Turkey is my main love. I’ve been going to the villages in western Turkey since the 1980s. India is number two, and we do a little bit of specialist work in Nepal.
Any recent collaborations? David Weeks and I have both worked with Ralph Pucci, but I didn’t realize until recently that David’s background is in painting. So his aesthetic translates well into rugs. And we have a Louise Bourgeois Berber rug going to market in 2013 with a collision of words around its edge.