Rodney Hakim is a dealer at Persian Gallery New York whom Rug Insider has known for many years. When Hakim inquired this past spring as to why Rug Insider didn’t feature more old or antique carpets on our pages, we sheepishly had to admit it was mostly due to lack of experience with the genre. Hakim graciously offered to help introduce us, and now perhaps many of you, to the world of “old work” as we’re calling it.
The trade of old, antique, used and vintage carpets—‘old work’—has long existed somewhat apart from the more commercial market of newly made wares, though there is some overlap with shops that carry a mix of new and vintage. As trend cycles and emerging consumer cohorts continue to rediscover the appeal not only of handmade but also of vintage styles other than the classic ‘oriental’ rugs and carpets, it appears that resourceful dealers have turned their sights toward the styles which will catch the eye of these new buyers. This includes of course, the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic.
With no sign of the interest in “old work” abating, RUG INSIDER is pleased to welcome Hakim as he discusses Mid-Century Modern rugs and carpets with noted New York dealers Jason Nazmiyal of Nazmiyal Collection and Nader Bolour of Doris Leslie Blau.
Rodney Hakim (RI): What would you consider to be Mid-Century Modern rugs?
Jason Nazmiyal (JN): Mid-Century Modern rugs, or as they should correctly be called, vintage Scandinavian rugs, refers to Swedish rugs woven from approximately 1940-1960.
Nader Bolour (NB): Scandinavian Rugs.
RI: When did you start to add these rugs to your collection, and what inspired you to do so?
NB: Nine years ago.
JN: In the late 1980s or early 1990s, a supplier of mine urged me to take two pile Scandinavian rugs and show them to my clients. There are two kinds of Scandinavian rugs; pile, and flat weave, and neither of them were well known in the New York market at that time. I took a chance and acquired the two pile rugs from him. Soon thereafter, I took an even bigger chance and took his whole lot of twenty-five flat weave Scandinavian rugs.
RI: After introducing them, when did the Scandinavian rugs really take off with your clientele?
NB: Six years ago. At that time, I bought out the full collection of 380 pieces from one of my suppliers. For the past
six years, the Scandinavian rugs have performed well, sold well.
JN: [When I first acquired them], they [Scandinavian rugs] weren't really established in the New York market, but I introduced them to some of the designers I was working with and little by little the style became a hit. That was twenty-five years ago. They've been popular for many years now.
RI: Was it difficult to get your clientele to appreciate these Scandinavian rugs?
NB: My clients are mostly designers and they like the aesthetic of the Scandinavian rugs, but they also like the fact that these rugs come with a signature or weaver's mark, and that they have that authenticity. They are also unusual pieces, relative to the other styles in the market. Designers really like that.
RI: Now that the Mid-Century rugs have become an important facet of your business, are they the main focus of your advertising and publicity efforts?
Left: Vintage pile ’Nejlikan’ by Barbo Nilsson for Märta Måås-Fjetterström. Right: Vintage ‘Salerno’ by Barbo Nilsson for Märta Måås-Fjetterström.
NB: Not necessarily. It's important to have a mix in advertising, to be diversified. I like to satisfy as many clients as possible. Antique pieces are coming back. Color is coming back, which is promising. The price points for antiques are at a competitive level with custom-made carpets at this point, so there's a better chance for them now.
RI: How would you characterize the Scandinavian rugs of that era?
JN: They are more minimalist, with less pattern, and with a certain texture and a specific palette of colors.
RI: How would you say the Mid-Century rugs compare in popularity to some of the other rugs in your collection?
JN: We have a ranking system on our website that tells us our most popular rug types. The Mid-Century Modern Scandinavian style rug is consistently number one.
After Hakim discussed the style with Nazmiyal and Bolour he asked them to furnish images in order to illustrate the look the three has been discussing. As evidenced by the photographs shown here, it is clear that when the term ‘Scandinavian style’ is used it is likely a generalized term for the work of Märta Måås-Fjetterström. Rug Insider discusses the ongoing work of the studio she founded InDEPTH, Summer 2018 issue, pages 66-69.
Images page courtesy of Nazmiyal Collection and Doris Leslie Blau.