Domotex Rug Fair 2009

Largest Carpet

The best of the rug industry will take to the floor early 2009 at the Domotex Rug Fair in Hanover, Germany.

Pierre Antoine will again represent South Africa at this annual showcase for rug manufacturers and designers.  Around 1350 exhibitors are expected to participate from more than 80 countries.

“We are going bold and black with understated elegance,” says Pierre. “Our rug collection will have a strong African influence without being Afro-centric.”  The Fibre Designs stand will be situated in Hall 18, which hosts a variety of high-end manufacturers and design houses from around the world.

Stylist Natalie Thiart has taken on the design of the stand which will also be showcased during the Design Indaba next year.  Be sure to keep an eye on our blog for the rug and stand designs.

The Domotex Fair takes place from 17-20 January 2009 at the Hanover Exhibition Centre.

Water Damage

H2OWhether it’s a flood, leak or burst pipe, water damages can’t wait until the next morning. Clive and John opened up the gallery a few weeks ago, only to step onto very wet and damaged rugs.

So while Pierre is sitting behind the computer conjuring up some new and interesting designs for the gallery we thought it good to give all you rug lovers some tips for treating water soaked rugs.

Unsanitary water contains organisms that can infect carpets and rugs and cause health and safety problems. If however the water damage is from a clean water source and it was identified within 24 hours, then cleaning the carpet yourself is an option.

What happens when rugs get wet?

Colour run – Moisture trapped in and between yarn acts as a path for dye to “run” on. This causes the dye to move from one section of the rug to another allowing the colours to mix and blend.

Holes – The build-up of moisture weakens the warps and wefts used in the backing of the rug. Deterioration in the yarn strength can eventually lead to holes being formed.

Shrink or stretch – Some yarns tend to shrink or stretch when exposed to water. There are two kinds of shrinkage. Progressive shrinkage occurs when the fiber itself shrinks. Relaxation shrinkage is when the fabric shrinks. It is caused by the tension applied to yarns and fabrics during construction. Yarn is stretched on a loom when woven up into a rug. The tension is released when the fabric gets wet causing it to shrink to its natural size.

What can I do?

  1. Quickly remove any furniture that may be damaged or cause stains or damage to the carpet.
  2. Limit traffic over the wet carpet. Moisture can weaken the backing and walking on the rug can cause the backing to separate. When the backing dries, it regains most of its original strength.
  3. Place the rug in direct sunlight. Make sure that it is upside down with the pile showing downwards. This will ensure that the water runs away from the backing of the rug. Do not place the rug on a solid surface such as concrete or tiles. The solid surface will restrict the flow of water away from the rug.
  4. Make sure that you place your rug over a cylinder-like railing with a wide circumference to allow air to move through the rug. Again, make sure that the pile shows downwards. Do not hang it over chairs or tables as the rug will mold to the form of the furniture and will show creases afterwards.
  5. Use of a heater to further speed up evaporation. Place a heater about 1m away from the rug, or even better underneath the rug. Do not use a blower as this tends to make the rug yellow in colour.
  6. If you are not happy with the results then make sure that you bring in your rug for professional cleaning and restoration.
  7. Check the subfloor for moisture as well. If rainwater soaked from the top, it may not have soaked the sub floor. The type of subfloor under the carpet and the length of time it is wet will determine whether it will need to be replaced. Allow to dry completely before placing your beautiful rug back on the floor.

WOW – It’s So Big!

Size does matters – especially when it comes to rugs. Correctly proportioned rugs pull together furniture in a room creating warmth and intimacy or it elongates the dimensions of a room to create breathing space.
We just have to share this interesting bit of information published on a rug related blog a time ago:

World's largest carpet
The world’s biggest hand-made carpet is the size of a football field (60 546 square feet). Weavers in Iran used 38 tons of wool and cotton to create the carpet for the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, named so after the founder of the country.
The carpet is called the Qasr al-Alam (The Palace of the World) and took Ali Khaliqi, an Iranian artist, eight months to design. It was woven by 1,200 women, aged between 15 and 60, over 16 months. They were supervised by 50 men acting as technical experts.

All the President’s rugs

Antoine Persian Carpets Cleaning and Restoration Studio has been working with some of South Africa’s finest tapestries and rugs for the last 28 years. Amongst these are items at the Groote Schuur Manor in Rondebosch. Myself and the ladies responsible for restoring the collection at Groote Schuur recently visited the estate to learn more about its rich history and its collection of tapestries and rugs.

Groote Schuur curator, Alta Kriel, mentions that the schuur (granary) was built in 1657 and was used to protect harvests from the rainstorms and gales of the Cape winter. Jan van Riebeeck was commissioned to plant vegetables and grains in the Cape for sailors aboard the Dutch East Indian Company ships.

The granary was re-designed and re-built by Sir Herbert Baker to what it is today. The house, which was declared a national monument in 1993, houses priceless treasures of Eastern, European and African provenance. Some of which belonged to Cecil John Rhodes who used to live there.

Groote Schuur is also known for hosting the first official meeting between Nelson Mandela and state president at the time FW De Klerk. De Klerk was the last president to stay in the house. Today, President Thabo Mbeki resides in one of the more practical residences on the estate.

Tapestries and rugs

Of all the tapestries and rugs, the four seventeenth-century hand-woven Flesmish items make a huge impression. Three of the tapestries depict the continents of Africa, Europe and America. The fourth, misidentified as representing Asia for many years, is now known to be a portrayal of the goddess, Victory.

Africa as portrayed in one of the four Flemish, hand-woven tapestries.

Africa as depicted in one of the four Flemish, hand-woven 19C tapestries (Photographed by Alain Proust; Groote Schuur – Great Granary To Stately Home)

The tapestries representing Africa and Europe was given to Rhodes by his uncle, while the remaining two was given to his cousin Miss Peacock. These two were given to the then President Jan Smuts, who at the time lived at Groote Schuur. The Rhodes Trustees gave these to Smuts as a token of their admiration and gratitude for his contribution to the commonwealth.

This beautifull Hamadan rug greets visitors at the entrenace of the Groote Schuur Manor.

This beautiful Hamadan rug greets guests in the lobby of the Groote Schuur Manor (Photographed by Alain Proust; Groote Schuur – Great Granary To Stately Home)

Amongst some of the beautiful rugs that Antoine Persian Carpets Cleaning & Restoration Studio has worked on is this beautiful Hamadan rug featured above.

All shapes and sizes

Don’t be afraid to play with shapes and sizes when deciding on a rug’s design. Look at how these big, over-sized circles are contrasted against all the vertical and horizontal lines in the room. This Fibre Designs’ rug is made from the finest New Zealand wool. The colour of the rug blends in with the rest of the furnishings, marrying the contrast of the circles against the lines.

Camilla Fraser and Fibre Designs collaborate

Interior designer Camilla Fraser recently approached us with a rug design. Her Cape Town-based clients are involved in both fashion and food and love to entertain in their large Art Deco style home. The task at hand is to update the living rooms of their family home. The wool rug that Camilla designed is about 3m x 4m in size and will be used in the formal sitting room which leads into the library.

Camilla shared a few of her thoughts on the project.

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Cleaning your rug

Keeping your rug clean will ensure a long and colourful life.

Depending on the amount of foot traffic in your home, it is recommended that rug owners call on our cleaning team to professionally deep clean the rug every one to three years.

Between these thorough cleanings, owners should vacuum and treat small spots or stains as needed – stains are most easily removed when the spot is still wet.

Decorex 2008 – influences & trends

Pierre recently attended Étienne Cochet’s talk at the Decorex 2008 show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Cochet, the mastermind behind Maison & Objet, a leading international event for trends and new concepts in design and decoration, focused on some influences and trends that are shaping the world of décor and design.


Globalization / fusion of frame of reference / openness – Specific frames of references do not belong to specific groups of consumer anymore. Research shows that consumers are not afraid to mix motifs and designs that are not unique to their own culture. “Moroccan-inspired Bedouin rugs are ideal for contemporary interiors,” says Pierre.

Urban living / cosmopolitan – Cochet reiterated that today’s urban lifestyle is characterized by limited space with not much green space. Design follows the strong lines and shapes of the urban environment but is often complemented by softer nature-inspired motifs. According to Pierre rugs with subtle floral designs can easily bring life into a room.

Multiple use of rooms and furniture – Limited space requires multi-functional rooms and furniture. Furniture and décor items like rugs need to fulfill this need. “Be clever and colour your rugs in a natural tone that lives comfortably within the majority of your rooms. Then they can be moved around easily,” says Pierre.

Open to personality – Consumers give interiors a “personality” that reflects their own. The popularity of bespoke rugs is an example. Pierre says the trend to customize décor items is on the increase. 90% of sales at Fibre Designs are bespoke items.

Outdoor and indoor flow / outdoor living (even in bad weather) / Green living – Outdoor furniture takes interior design elements and motifs to the patio. Similarly rugs from durable, eco-friendly yarns like hemp bast fibre moves from the indoors to the outdoors, and vice versa, says Pierre.


Pièce unique – Consumers surround themselves with bespoke items that they design or that has been designed specifically for them. According to Pierre consumers take inspiration from design icons such as William Morris up to family heraldry to include in their rugs.

Aggression – Bold colours and in-your-face textures and designs depict this strong emotion. Pierre says saturated reds, blues, saffron and gold are great examples of these.

Neo baroque – Neo-baroque, a design language made for luxury, are included as voluptuous patterns, floral ornaments and embellishments in all shapes and sizes. It showcases strong, dramatic light and dark contrasts. Pierre uses the example of Fibre Designs’ new range of jacquard patchwork kilims that merge the old design with an array of light and dark colours.

Exaggeration / scale / excessively /oversize – Minute details are blown up to exaggerate a theme or look. “Small detail like the veins of a leave can be blown up and translated onto a rug,” says Pierre.

Ostentatious – Designs are flamboyant and showy to impress consumers. They make a statement, are brash and even offensive, just to get consumers talking. “A stylized and oversized paisley motif in a contemporary setting will get everybody talking,” says Pierre. Another great example he says is Fibre Designs’ extra long pile lengths and extra thick yarns that is not used very commonly.

Decontextualisation / strong statement – The unusual placement of objects in the home results in their losing their normal frame of reference. Books become doorstops, a TV becomes a case for glasses, and a rug finds its way onto a chair.

Tongue in cheek / juxtaposition – The act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side to make a subtle statement about their similarities or differences. Antoine mentions that placing Fibre Designs’ new range of square hemp floor cushions on a round hemp carpet will not only show the difference in shape but also the similarity in yarn.

“It is clear from the above that today’s décor trends are dictated by the consumer and that clever designers keep their eyes to the ground to capitalize on word from the street,” says Antoine.

The desert never looked this cool

Travel through the desert. Experience its cool morning breeze and warm midday sun. Then put your feet up at its welcoming oasis.

Fibre Designs introduces a range of hand knotted Bedouin inspired rugs.

Bedouin rug

These eco-friendly and durable bast fibre rugs are available in gold, natural, natural white, charcoal, blue and red.

To learn more about this natural fibre go to our archives or visit: or

Pierre patches up the poor man’s rug

Pierre has yet again managed to introduced an exciting collection of modern kilims (or flatweaves) to the already comprehensive range at the studio. Our new patchwork kilims, made from the finest New Zealand wool, are available as plain as well as opulent French jacquard inspired rugs.

Patchwork kilims are usually put together by using left over pieces of various kilims. The weavers would often keep these kilims for themselves. Pierre has used this as inspiration to create a range of patchwork kilims that will live comfortably within the contemporary home.

Background on kilims:

Long before kilims became decorative items in modern homes, they were used by tribal communities who created them for practical purposes such as floor coverings, hangings to protect from inclement weather or for storage of grains and other daily essentials. Lightweight and easy to transport, the kilim was an ideal and essential part of the nomads’ lives.

Known as “the poor man’s rug”, kilims are a lot more affordable than traditional pile rugs, due to the amount of wool used in the construction of the rug. The design of a kilim is made by interweaving the coloured wefts and war.

Design your own carpet – continued

Purchasing or designing a rug is a great adventure. It might seem like a daunting task at times, but Pierre has identified some questions you can ask yourself to help keep you focused.

Previously we have discussed the following questions:

  • Where would you like to place the item?
  • What is the size of the room?
  • What shape would you like the rug to be?

Here are some more tips to consider:

How much and what kind of light is used in the room?
Light definitely helps set a mood in any room. It’s what sets the ambiance. So keep in mind what mood you’re trying to create. Darker shades tend to create warmer cosier environments whilst a lighter palette enhances the sense of openness and airiness.

And try – obviously when possible – to keep your rug out of direct harsh and extreme light so as to prevent any premature colour fading.

How often do you use this room?

Do people have to walk through this room to get to other living areas? Is this room a major living area? Or is it a separate room that only gets used occasionally. The amount of foot traffic in the room, and therefore on the carpet, will help determine which texture to use. A hemp bast fibre carpet is ideal for high traffic areas.

Does the room have a specific theme, look or colour?
Let the “theme” or “look” of the room along with the colours used in the room help guide you as to what texture, colour and design to choose for your rug. Most interiors call for a rug that will fit into the bigger scheme of things; a rug that draws the other furnishings together .

But then again, contrasting antique furniture with a modern, sleek rug can work just as well as a traditional Oriental rug with ultra modern furniture.

South Africa first – bast fibre hemp carpet range

Step onto Fibre Designs’ range of eco-sensitive bast fibre carpets. A first and only in South Africa, the range is made from the “inner bark” or “skin” of the hemp plant. These bast fibre rugs offer superior strength and durability for high traffic areas.

Hemp can be grown organically and requires little to no pesticides, replenishes soil with nutrients and nitrogen, and converts carbon dioxide to oxygen efficiently. The plant also produces 250% more fibre than cotton when grown on the same land.

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