In Part 4 of 23 Styles of Designer Rugs we take a close look at geometric rugs and Ikat rugs. Geometric patterns go back at least 5000 years to ancient Sumer and Ikat rugs are inspired by 19th century Central Asian Ikat textiles. Both are steeped in history which gives them the ability to unify contemporary and traditional styles in the same room as you learn from the examples in this post. We will discover their exciting history, where to use them, the most desirable colors and patterns, buying tips and gain decorating inspiration.
What You Need to Know About Geometric Rugs
A silk custom rug in a beige geometric pattern adds a sense of history and complements both contemporary and traditional objects in a chic aqua and beige living room in a historic 1930’s Delano and Aldrich mansion in Old Westbury, New York revitalized by Steven Gambrel. Compare the pattern of this geometric rug with the ancient Roman mosaic floor pictured below.
This 1600 year old Roman mosaic floor has the same pattern as the geometric rug in the living room designed by Steven Gambrel. It is from a 4th century AD Roman villa in Carranque, Spain which was fortuitously discovered in 1983 by a peasant plowing the fields. Image by A. Marga.
The earliest geometric patterns date back more than 5000 years. What is most surprising is how identical they are to contemporary rug fashions (see below). The picture shows temple mosaics from the city of Uruk IV 3400 – 3100 BC. Uruk was one of the earliest cities in history and the place where early stage cuneiform writing first appears. This early stage cuneiform used pictograms which are pictorial drawings of physical objects. Collection of the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Wikipedia image.
The Sigma 1804 Oriental rug is inspired by ancient geometric patterns and is stocked in several colors. It is handmade in a cut and loop weave with fine handspun wool. Rug Design © Asmara, Inc.
A Roman mosaic floor, 2nd century AD from a villa near Antioch in Roman Syria. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Geometric tile floor in the guest bedroom of a house in Merida, Mexico designed by Robert Wilson and David Serrano.
The Greek key border in a mid 8th century BC terracotta pyxis (a box with a lid) that was made somewhere in Greece. Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Asmara’s Adelphi 6556YG oriental rug is an original variation on the ancient Greek key motif shown in yellow, green and white. It is also available in blue and aqu as Adelphi 6556UG. Both are handmade in a cut and loop texture which is enhanced by the subtle shading variations of fine hand spun wool. Rug Design © Asmara, Inc.
A custom rug in a green and cream geometric pattern complements green China and botanical prints in a light filled elegant California dining room by Richard Hallberg. The pattern of the rug resembles ancient Roman floors made with pebbles.
History of Geometric Patterns: Perhaps there is an evolutionary reason why humans love geometric patterns because we have been making them for nearly 6000 years going back to the ancient Sumerians. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Persian and Romans have all left exquisite examples of geometric patterns that we use still use today and take them to be very modern.
Where to use: Geometric rugs can be used in any room in the house or in a commercial space. They work with both tradtional and contemporary styles and are particularly effective when yu want to use a use a mix of antique and modern styles as in the interiors pictured in this blog.
Desirable Colors and Designs: For a more contemporary look use higly contrasting colors and large scale patterns. For a subtle atmosphere use colors that are closer in value. Small scale geometric patterns will bring out the beauty of fabrics with large scale patterns and large scale geometric rugs are best used with fabrics in solid colors or with small scale patterns.
Buying Tips: If you desire a unique design, colors and texture have the rug custom made by a knowleadgable manufacturer. Retail geometric rugs are available in many qualities and price points for both indoor and outdoor use.
Two More Interiors with Geometric Rugs
A custom rug in a beige and cream geometric pattern adds energy and complements traditional and contemporary objects in the master bedroom of a Virginia house designed by Thomas Pheasant.
A custom rug in a dark brown and cream geometric pattern adds drama and connects the contemporary with the ancient in Timney-Fowler co-founder Sue Timney’s living room.
What You Need to Know About Ikat Rugs
A silk custom rug in a red, yellow, green and blue Ikat pattern creates a joyful atmosphere and pulls together modern and ancient art in the office and library of Sig Bergamin in São Paulo, Brazil.
Detail of a stunning Ikat fabric which was stitched into a robe and was woven in the second half of the 19th century in the Fergana Valley near Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Collection of The Textile Museum, Washington, DC.
The Timur 1331CG Needlepoint rug is inspired by Ikat fabrics and antique Moroccan tiles. Rug Design © Asmara, Inc.
Ikat fabrics are produced by a unique method in which sections of the yarns are dyed in different colors and the pattern appears as these yarns are woven into a fabric. In the picture above dyed yarns are on the right and the woven Ikat fabric is on the left.
History of Ikat Patterns: Ikat rugs are inspired by Ikat fabrics and have motifs with jagged outlines just as Ikat fabrics do. While Ikat rugs are made with the same technique as other handmade rugs, Ikat fabrics are produced by a unique method in which the pattern is first stenciled onto lengths of silk threads which are stretched out on a frame. The term Ikat comes from the Malay word mengikat which means to tie or bind. This is because sections of the threads that are to be dyed in different colors are first tightly bound with cotton ties, covered in wax and then dipped in a dye bath. The sections covered in wax do not take on the dye. This process is repeated until all the colors of pattern have been dyed. As the weaver weaves the pattern begins to appear on the cloth. Since it is very difficult to keep the dyed threads aligned perfectly, the motifs develop jagged outlines which are so admired and so widely copied. The finest and most copied Ikat fabrics were made in the 19th and early 20th century in Samarkand, Bokhara, Kabul and Kunduz which are located along the Silk Road in Central Asia.
Where to use: Because Ikat rugs are inspired by or derived from ancient patterns they have the ability to connect contemporary and traditional styles in an interior. They can also be used in an entirely contemporary or entirely traditional room as illustrated by the interiors in this blog post.
Desirable Colors and Designs: Depending on the atmosphere you wish to create in the room you can chose either vibrant colors seen in 19th century Central Asian Ikat fabrics or create your own neutral palette with brown, beige, creams, gray, taupe, black and white.
Buying Tips: If you distinctive look have the Ikat rug custom made by a manufacturer who is sensitive to the aeshetics of Ikat fabrics and can traslate them into a rug. There are also retail Ikat rugs available in a wide range of qualities, textures and price points.
Two More Interiors with Ikat Rugs
A custom rug in a traditoinal red blue and yellow Ikat pattern complements red and gold upholstered traditional furniture in a rustic living room in Umbria, Italy designed by Eric Egan. Even though the objects in this room are mostul traditional the room has a contemporary vibe.
A custom rug in a dark blue and cream Ikat pattern reminiscent of Bargello and flame stitch needlepoint complements a white French forties style sofa, contemporary art and cobalt blue lacquered walls.