After some persuasion, I managed to convince my father to let me tag along on his bi-annual business trip to India and Nepal. Though I’d been to both countries in the past, I knew that this trip would be different. My father warned me that our visit was strictly business, which meant no quick stops at the Taj Mahal or the Ganges River and that our only shopping sprees would be rug related. We were booked for mid-July, in the heat of the scorching Indian summer, but the fear of sunstroke would not shake my excitement. Working at SAMAD for three years, I’d come to learn all about our rug collections (their different qualities and unique styles), but it was the rug making process that fascinated me most. Our documentary, The Colors of India, illuminates the painstaking detail and craftsmanship that goes into the making of each handmade rug and now I’d finally get the chance to see it first hand.
So we were off! Our itinerary was concise and efficient: 10 days, 9 flights, 6 cities/villages and 1 train ride.
We spent time visiting each of our manufacturers, selecting new designs, overseeing our latest shipments and of course, for my father, visiting old friends. From large urban operations with air-conditioned showrooms and in-house production centers to small facilities located in rural villages, I quickly became aware of the wide range of diversity within the world of rug making. What was most interesting about these visits was meeting the faces behind our collections. From fun and bubbly to elegant and reserved, I began to see the different personalities of our suppliers and how they clearly reflected in their creations, bringing new meaning to the rugs that surround me each day.
I was amazed by the creativity and inspiration gathered from around the globe. Influences from cathedral wall paintings, Turkish floor mosaics, Celtic knot work and the Manhattan skyline (to name but a few) have given rise to some of our most intricate and eye catching designs. I was shown how ideas and sketches are brought to life with the help of design software used to build new patterns, customize existing ones and experiment with color and style. Incorporating factors such as pile height, silk level and knot size, the software is able to give a detailed projection of how the final product will look, which offers more room for creativity and minimizes error. It was fascinating to see technology and modern innovations being applied to this ancient craft that has been practiced for thousands of years.
Our rug makers took the time to introduce us to some amazing initiatives that are beneficial to both their local communities and the environment. One supplier described how he found himself with a storeroom filled with leftover yarn that had accumulated from old projects. Instead of wasting it, he decided to rework groups of likeminded colors into new yarn and use the recycled wool to produce a line of eco-friendly rugs, now known as our Horizon Collection. In Nepal, we learned about DreamWeavers, an inspiring program started by one of our manufacturers that aims to empower marginalized women by training them in the art of carpet weaving. They teach tangible weaving skills to those in need, while providing education for the children of weavers to break from the ongoing cycle of poverty.
Upon returning to the office our whole showroom suddenly felt different. Surrounded by rugs from all of our collections, it was as if the people I had met and the landscapes of India and Nepal had been brought back with me to New Jersey. Like my father and his father before him, I felt proud to be another knot in the fabric of this ever-changing industry.