23 Styles of Designer Rugs: Part 1 – From Aubusson Rugs to Chinoiserie

What do you do when every rug you try in a room doesn’t quite work? Does your client find the rug elsewhere? Or does it delay the completion of the room? Whenever I am stuck, I turn to friends who are plugged in to the top designer rug resources in New York, Los Angeles and overseas. Often I discover a new type of rug or a fresh way of decorating with a rug I already knew about. Having done this for over 30 years I keep an evolving list of the 23 most desirable designer rug styles. Here is Part 1 of the list, arranged alphabetically. Parts 2 and 3 will follow in coming weeks.   



Aubusson Rugs: An Aubusson rug with a cream, green sings with the colors of the sea in a Cape Cod dining room designed by Pamela Gaylin Ryder. Image courtesy New England Home.



Aubusson Rugs: A Louis XV Aubusson rug in cream, pink and fresh blue enriches the light and airy vibe in Michael S. Smith’s newly renovated New York penthouse living room. Image courtesy AD



Rosecliff is a 19th century Aubusson design recolored by Asmara artist Elizabeth Mosian in the fresh colors of a romantic Fragonard painting and is available in a choice of three different textures – as a Needlepoint rug, or as an Aubusson rug,or as a Savonnerie pile rug


History of Aubusson Rugs Aubusson rugs have a history that goes back to the 1600’s when they were made to order for the homes of the French nobility. Aubusson rugs combine motifs from classical architecture and flowing florals. They are made in the same flat-weave construction as wall tapestries which you can see in major museums. Aubusson rugs are sometimes made in needlepoint construction. If you like the look of Aubusson rugs but prefer pile rugs then look for their royal cousin, Savonnerie rugs.  

Where to use:  If you think Aubusson rugs are only for traditional rooms you will be surprised how great they look in a contmeporary setting as in the examples in this blog post.

Desirable Colors and Designs: Fresh colors such as cream, with green, blue and aqua or dramatic colors such as black and gold.

Buying tips: Buy a rug only when you love it’s colors and pattern. Do not be swayed by an impressive pedigree if you hate the design and colors. Consider it a plus if the rug can work with both contemporary and traditional decor as this will allow you to freshen the decor in the future. 



Vintage Art Deco Rugs:  A cream, red and blue round French Art Deco rug compliments the chandelier, center table, and chairs by Jules Leleu in antique dealer Bernd Goeckler’s New York loft designed by ‘D’Aquino Monaco.



Custom Art Deco Rugs: A custom purple, pink, light blue, black and white Art Deco rug complements a pink and black tiger print velvet upholstered sofa, and an orange and black Art Deco box in a stunning living room design by Kelly Wearstler. 



Custom Art Deco Rugs: An orange and black custom Art Deco rug complements orange chairs, black sideboard and colorful art in a living room designed by Kelly Wearstler.


History of Art Deco Rugs: Art Deco rugs and furniture first appeared in France after World War I as industrialization began to have an influence art. Art Deco rugs combine the craft of traditional hand weaving with designs inspired by the Machine Age. Art Deco was a departure from the preceding Art Nouveau period which favored motifs inspired by nature.

Where to use: Art Deco rugs bring glamour and sophistication to modern interiors as illustrated in this blog: How to Decorate with Art Deco Rugs- 12 Celebrated Interiors

Desirable Colors and Designs: Simpler designs and neutral colors such as cream with charcoal or cream and brown are favored by French interior designers Jean-Louis Deniot and Thierry Despont  while American design Kelly Wearstler often goes for pinks, purple, orange and blue. Kelly Wearstler has also done stunning rooms with gray and black Art Deco rugs.

Buying tips: Antique Art Deco can be found on 1stdibbs.com. It is even better to have Art Deco rugs custom made to your exact size, shape and colors as French designer Jean-Louis Deniot did in this blog.or Thierry Despont in this blog. You can find more examples of both antique and custom made Art Deco rugs on the Asmara Pinterest Art Deco Board.




Animal Print Rugs: The Mosaic 8346N wool and silk rug on distressed wood floors compliments cream upholstery and makes the gilded and mirrored walls feel less precious. Photo by Koch Studio



Animal Print Rugs: A zebra print rug in the living room complements a raised black and white stripe rug in the library of the Kansas City, Missouri home of Hallmark Cards visual-merchandising executive David Jimenez.  


History of Animal Print Rugs: Throughout history animal print rugs have been associated with kings. In modern times, when used tastefully, they symbolize sophistication and elegance.

Where to use: Animal print rugs in tasteful colors add flair and warmth to a living room, foyer or library.

Desirable color and designs: Complex colors that are hard to describe make the most memorable impact in interiors.

Buying tips: Zebra print rugs are quite common and are available at all price points. Avoid low quality, poorly designed animal print rugs as they can lower the overall aesthetics of the room.  


Bessarabian Rugs in Traditional Interiors: A Bessarabian rug grounds a cozy library in Boston designed by Scott Snyder. The red lacquer walls and the Bessarabian rug are a homage to Albert Hadley’s legendary red lacquer bookcases in Brooke Astor’s Park Avenue apartment. Image Courtesy Scott Snyder.



Bessarabian Rugs in Contemporary Interiors:  A black floral Bessarabian rug adds energy to the living area of food editor and fashion model Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, daughter of Isabella Rossellini and granddaughter of Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman. Image courtesy Vogue.



Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann and husband James in their New York living room.  Image courtesy Vogue.



Bessarabian Rugs: The Hermitage Needlepoint Rug 2406HM is inspired by a rare antique Bessarabian rug reminiscent of the rug in Brooke Astor’s red lacquer library designed by Albert Hadley. It is also available has a pile oriental rug


History of Bessarabian Rugs: Bessarabian rugs are flat-woven handmade rugs made in the same tapestry weave as French Aubusson rugs. The most valuable Bessarabian rugs were made in the Imperial Tapestry Factory near St. Petersburg, Russia which was started on the orders of Peter the Great after he returned from travels in England and France where he developed a fondness for French and English carpets. The factory initially made copies of French Aubusson rugs and Savonnerie carpets as they were the height of fashion at the Russian court. Later Bessarabian carpets were also made in country workshops established by members of the Russian landed gentry. The name Bessarabian derives from a historical region called Bessarabia, which is now partly in the present day Republic of Moldova and partly in Romania.

Where to use: In living rooms, dining rooms, foyer and library with both contemporary or traditional furniture. Lee Radziwill has used the same Bessarabian rugs in many of her homes as illustrated in the blog post How Lee Radziwill Changed Fashion, Keeping the Same Bessarabian Rugs.

Desirable color and designs: This depends entirely on your taste and what you want the room to look and feel like. For more ideas visit Asmara’s Pinterest Board on Bessarabian Rugs 

Buying tips: Antique Bessarabian rugs can be found at Beauvais Carpets, Fred Moheban, Doris Leslie Blau and at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions. Asmara Bessarabian Rugs can be seen here



Botanical and Floral Rugs: Asmara Blue Summer 6848YB Savonnerie rug is inspired by an Italian ceiling mural and complements both traditional and contemporary decor. It is also available as a needlepoint rug. Room design and photo by Koch Studio



Botanical and Floral Rugs in Contemporary Interiors: Moldova is inspired by a 19th century Bessarabian rug and painted in a fresh color palette by artist Elizabeth Moisan, It has clear yellows, red, lilac, blue and green. Moldova is shown in a design scheme for a contemporary bedroom. Moldova is available as a cut and loop Savonnerie rug or as a needlepoint rug


History of Botanical and Floral Rugs: Botanical rugs are inspired by the art of botanical illustration and also by Indian chintz fabrics. The earliest published botanical illustrations appear in a book made in 512AD for Juliana Anicia the daughter of the former Western Roman Emperor Olybrius. This book was made for the very serious purpose of identifying medicinal plants. The second inspiration source for today’s floral rugs are Indian chintz fabrics which began to be imported into Europe around 1600. Chintz fabrics were very rare and expensive, but despite this a million pieces a year were imported into England in 1680. This huge loss of business alarmed the English and French mills as they had tried and failed to copy the Indian originals. France banned the import of Indian chintz fabrics in 1686 and England followed in 1720 with a law passed by Parliament that forbade “the Use and Warings ( in Apparel (sic) of imported chintz, and also its use or Wear (sic) in or about any Bed, Chair, Cushion or other Household furniture”. The ban was lifted in 1759 when French and English mills had figured out the secrets of making chintz. The early chintz were copies of Indian designs which were followed by original patterns, including the famous toile de Jouy which were made in the town of Jouy, France until 1843.

Where to use: Botanical and floral rugs can be used in any room in the house.

Desirable colors and designs: Original patterns painted by fine artists in clear colors or antique patterns re-colored in fresh colors are the most desirable for two reasons- they work with both traditional and contemporary decor and have a personality.

Buying tips: See Where to Buy Gorgeous Floral Needlepoint Rugs: 9 Top Sources and Tips




American Hooked Rugs: A stunning red and gold American Hooked Rug made with wool, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York was made sometime between 1800 and 1900. 



A Modern Hooked Rug: made by hand with strips of cotton on a jute canvas base. It is available in custom sizes and shapes and in a wide range of colors. 


History of American Hooked Rugs: American hooked rugs developed as a craft of poverty along the eastern seaboard in New England, Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1830 American factories began making machine-made carpets for the wealthy, but these carpets were far too expensive for most people and country women began searching through their scraps of left over materials to make hooked rugs to cover the floors of their homes. Hooked rugs were of little interest to the wealthy and popular ladies magazines of the 19th century do not mention them as they were of no interest to the elite. This has all changed. Now antique hooked rugs from New England are in the prized collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, antique dealers price some at $40,000 and Canada has declared hooked rugs a fine art.

Where to use: Hooked rugs in geometric patterns will complement both traditional and contemporary decor and can be used in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, foyer, hallways and stairs. Floral hooked rugs are ideal for traditional rooms. 

Desirable colors and designs: Vintage and antique hooked rugs with vibrant colors have a lot of character and are often seen with Americana or in interiors by Ralph Lauren. Modern hooked rugs can be custom ordered in your colors and designs..

Buying tips: Antique and vintage hooked rugs can be found on 1st dibbs. You can see my picks of antique and modern hooked rugs on the Asmara Pinterest Board for Hooked Rugs.



Custom Chinoiserie Rugs: A custom pale green rug adds energy and complements a yellow-green wallcovering by De Gournay in a bedroom. 



Chinoiserie Rugs in Fretwork Designs: The Chipping 1330 CG Needlepoint Rug is influenced by Thomas Chippendale’s fretwork patterns in his mahogany tea tables, china cabinets and chair backs.



Custom Chinoiserie Rugs in Fretwork Designs: A pale green custom rug in a geometric pattern complements an apricot De Gournay wallpaper in a bedroom with a mix of neoclassical and contemporary styles.



Chinoiserie Floral Rugs:  Pavilion 2803GD Chinoiseire style needlepoint rug has a floral field surrounded by a pagoda and Greek key border in gold, teal and aqua.


History of Chinoiserie Rugs: Chinoiserie (French for “Chinese-esque”) is a whimsical style in art, porcelain, fabrics, rugs, architecture and fashion. It is based on a European fantasy of an imaginary China. Chinoiserie was popular during the Rococo period and at the court of Louis XV. It has made a revival since the late 20th century in wallpaper, furniture, rugs and accessories.

Where to use: Any room of the house. See my selections of living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, foyers and bathrooms on the Asmara Pinterest Board on Chinoiserie.

Desirable colors and designs: Geometric patterns inspired by Chinese fretwork work with many kinds of decor but the the better designs and colors have to be custom ordered.

Buying tips: Chnoiserie rugs are available at a wide range of prices and qualities ranging from inexpensive hand tufted rugs to custom handmade rugs. 


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