At Etons of Bath, we often get asked to design or source rugs for Georgian houses or hotels. So, we thought we’d let you in on a few trade secrets by talking to one of our most trusted suppliers….
SILK-AVENUE are renowned for their stunning bespoke rugs that are sourced from all over the world. They specialise in hand-knotted and hand-tufted carpets as well as one-off vintage rugs and hides. Each design can be customised to a client’s specification using their extensive gallery of patterns, designs, techniques, textures and materials, ensuring that each rug is unique. Clients are encouraged to get inspired by their own surroundings so that they truly are creating their own bespoke flooring that’s personal to them and their home. Etons of Bath’s Creative Director, Sarah Latham talks to Jeff Holtgen, designer and owner of Silk Avenue to find out about how it started, the best rugs for Georgian houses, and the beautiful rugs and carpets that they produce.
Tell us about the brand, who founded it and when and what was the inspiration:
Silk Avenue was founded by myself in 2011. Several years before, I had been lucky enough to be hired by a world-renowned Persian family, who had extensive experience, not to mention global success within the carpet industry.
During my employment I worked for them in both the South of France and Germany and due to my fascination and enormous respect for the family, I was like a sponge, and learnt as much as I could in all aspects of the industry. As we had a lot of high profile clientele, including Royalty and celebrities, I quickly learnt the importance of a faultless service, which is Silk Avenue’s main ethos today. In many ways, I owe everything to them. Without their inspiration and in depth knowledge, I would probably be doing something completely different.
When I moved to London, I was inspired to set up my own company, and due to the trend of the times, I focused my attention on the bespoke and contemporary style of rugs and carpets. By concentrating on the bespoke, and the fact the retail focus was shifting away from shops and showrooms and more online, I took a calculated risk and decided not to set up a showroom. In doing so, it allowed us to offer a more tailored service that brought Silk Avenue to the customer rather than the customer having to come to us.
Maybe more importantly, it also allowed us to offer the highest quality carpets at a much more affordable cost, as our overheads were significantly reduced. To this day I still stand by my decision. Silk Avenue has had remarkable success over the last few years, and as our creative team grows, we are able to visit our ever-growing clientele, in the comfort of their office or home successfully, and create fantastic custom-made carpets following an eclectic mix of design briefs.
Where and how are your rugs made?
To enable Silk Avenue to produce beautiful carpets for a range of different budgets and design briefs, we scoured the globe to find extremely talented craftsmen for each particular production method, whether it be hand-knotted, hand-tufted, hides, naturals etc.
Consequently, we have factories all over the world depending on the method required. Our company ethos is to enhance creativity within carpet design, and there hasn’t been a brief, however obscure, that we haven’t been able to produce; and trust me, when working with leading interior designers, we’ve had some challenges! Whether it be Swarovski crystals sewn into the weave, or LED lights incorporated into the design of a carpet wall-hanging – there is nothing we can’t do!
What is the most Prestigious project that you have worked on? [that you can tell us about]
As you rightly point out, the more prestigious a project is, the stricter the confidentiality clauses are. So my lips are sealed! However, I am extremely grateful that Silk Avenue has the ability to create custom carpets for these types of high profile projects. We have been lucky enough to produce for luxury yachts, hotels and high-end residential Interiors all over the world. However, we are equally grateful to produce for the more modest spaces as well.
What is the most unusual request you have had?
I think the most unusual request was to incorporate Swarovski crystals into a client’s bespoke area carpet. Not only did we need to develop a unique way of adding a fixing onto each individual crystal but also incorporate them onto the rug that would be both functional to pass the ‘stiletto test’, as well as beautiful. As you can imagine, there were many different craftsmen and artisans required for the various stages of the design development, but we did it and the end result was stunning, a one of a kind. It was definitely a labour of love!
Which Silk Avenue rugs would you recommend for a Georgian or Period Interior Design.
When it comes to colour, the great thing about the Georgian period is you can either be daring and colourful, following the wealthiest Georgians who loved to exhibit relatively shocking palettes or follow the later Georgian interiors and opt for a light and simple approach. Either look stunning in the grand, symmetrical proportions of a Georgian interior. It simply comes down to preference. Along with colour, the architects of this period also experimented with a wide range of styles including Chinese, Egyptian and Greek. With that in mind, you could explore a very quiet and simple design like our ‘BUSCA’, which illustrates a Greek motif border, in either a pastel or bold palette, adapting the scale of the motif to the proportions of the room. Or another approach is to mirror the symmetrical architecture of the period and opt for a repetitive, symmetrical pattern like ‘LYON’ or ‘SOHO’ which illustrates a slightly more contemporary twist.
If trying to create a classically inspired look, which Silk Avenue designs would you recommend?
If the client is looking for a more traditional feel, then we would recommend exploring our ‘time-honoured’ collection. The collection represents a much more traditional aesthetic, and like all our designs, each element of the design can be altered and the colour palette adjusted to suit.
However, if the client has a particular pattern/design in mind which they either sourced through historical archives or say textiles from the period, this can be a perfect starting off point for our creative team to get to work and develop a completely unique design tailored specifically to the client’s wishes.
When creating a more contemporary interior within a Georgian property which of Silk Avenue’s rugs/collections would you recommend?
I believe the beauty in interior design can be the juxtaposition between new and old, contemporary and traditional. If designed well, they can sit side-by-side within a space looking harmonious, yet each demanding individual attention. So, if the client is of the same belief, they could be extremely playful with the design and colour palette and not necessarily go for the expected option. If this is the case, the world is your oyster!
What is the argument for rugs versus carpet?
Wooden floors are still on trend, so the area rug is in high demand, as not only does it aesthetically ‘ground the furniture’ within the space, but it also adds an additional element of luxury under foot. Although people love looking at a beautiful wooden floor, everyone still associates softness with comfort and luxury, so area rugs on hardwood floors offers the best of both, and consequently is a popular approach.
While wooden and/or stone floors are more commonly used in the reception areas of a property, wall-to-wall carpets are favoured for the more intimate spaces i.e. bedrooms and dressing rooms. Practically speaking, these are the areas where you are most likely to walk barefoot, and therefore people prefer all areas of the floor to be soft.
Luckily, we can be equally creative with both so it’s really the client’s preference.
What’s next for rug trends in 2018, 2019 and do you think that they will suit Georgian and period properties?
We are starting to see the use of strong colours again within interiors and rugs for Georgian houses. The soft greys and beige palettes are slowly being replaced with more exciting and playful colour combinations, which are starting to filter down into rug and carpet design.
Interior designers are more frequently requesting a very low pile for the area rugs resulting in a much more contemporary and more ‘streamline’ feel within the room. This has always been the preferred approach for the contemporary spaces however I see it extending over to the more traditional interior studios as well.
Also, development in outdoor rugs has dramatically improved over the last couple of years, so you will be seeing more of these incorporated into beautifully landscaped gardens and exterior spaces.
To see a wide selection of rugs, samples and designs, come in to the Etons of Bath showroom at 108 Walcot Street in Bath or call us on 01225 639002