There was an undoubtable sense of joy and relief to be back amongst the COVER Connect New York attendees: ‘human interaction was the missing ingredient for the rug industry during the pandemic’ said Ned Baker of Tamarian, adding, ‘rugs are inherently human, the way they’re made, the way we interact with them, that’s why these shows are so important’.
Trends noted by exhibitors ranged from neutrals and undyed wools with added cool blues all the way to bold, colourful pieces. ‘We sell a little bit of everything, style preference really depends on where the client is geographically—sometimes it’s really traditional, sometimes it’s neutral beachy. Our Navajo inspired collection is also really popular.’ said Erika Kurtz of New Moon.
For clients based in the US, trends seemed to be determined by their location, with East coast and Southwest clients leaning towards ‘beachy’ neutrals and cool blues and Northwest clients favouring deeper reds and traditional designs. According to Sharon Hakakian of Caravan, ‘What retailers and clients are looking for always comes down to where they’re located—clients in California want light colours, neutrals, ivories, whereas in Seattle, Oregon, they’re looking for darker tones, reds, blues, etc.’ And for clients in the Midwest and the South, Navajo style rug designs, such as those featured in New Moon’s Mesa collection, appeared popular.
That being said, Tamarian’s Ned Baker felt that natural colours and an emphasis on texture dominated what their retailers were looking for, stating: ‘natural colours combined with negative space—whites and ivories, as well as texture—is always on trend because it’s easier for designers to work with texture than it is with colour.’
Sam James, Stark Carpet’s VP of Creative Product Development, tended to agree, noting that as retailers they were looking for ‘natural colours, warmer tones and [that they are] always interested in texture,’ adding that this season they are ’avoiding greys’. Some rug designs of note that evinced these trends included The Astrid Rug from Samad’s Nordic collection, as well as Hemma and Origin from Creative Matters’ new and memorable Macrame collection.
Despite the aforementioned popularity of neutrals and warm tones, some of the most striking and impressive designs were singular and unapologetically bold. A particularly notable example was Knots Rugs’ reinterpretation of British artist George Mortan-Clark’s painting At the end of the day into a hand-knotted area rug made of 50 percent wool and 50 percent silk. Sanjay Purohit of Knots Rugs said that as soon as the doors opened on Saturday their collaborative piece with Morton-Clark ‘sold right away’.
It has to be said that it wasn’t only the manufacturers, retailers, and designers who were happy to see in-person shows coming back; Ricky and Enrique, two carpet flippers from New York with nearly 50 years’ experience in the industry between them, were relieved to be back at work. ‘We’re normally flown across the country for these shows’ said Ricky, who continued that without the shows they’ve had little work.
The pandemic was not the only complication being discussed at COVER Connect. Speaking to Sharon Hakakian of Caravan about the recent events in Afghanistan and the devastating impact they have had on so many weavers in the industry, it was clear the issue weighed heavily on the minds of many exhibitors. ‘Although we’ve had a good year in business, the situation in Afghanistan is the hardest thing we’ve come up against. Without our weavers and mills, we are nothing. We’re concerned for our employees there and are doing whatever we can to help them,’ said Hakakian.
By the end of the weekend, the overwhelming response to September’s show was one of satisfaction and excitement. Creative Matters partner Carol Sebert shared in this sentiment: ‘It’s so interesting to come back after so long and see what everyone has been working on’ with her colleague and fellow partner Ali McMurter adding, ‘The show has been amazing. It’s really a testament to how much the industry has missed these types of events over the last year and a half’.
While it’ll surely take some time to get back to the full scale of trade show events as we know them, COVER Connect was overall a success as well as a great opportunity to witness the evolving trends in the carpet industry. And, as Sharon Hakakian stated, ‘hopefully next year we can do the same—but in an even bigger venue’.