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‘When clients see my work, they frequently say that they have never seen rugs like mine, and I tell them that that’s agood thing because if they have seen somethingbefore, it’s not worth my doing it again. I pride myself on my company’s uniquedesigns.’Barbara Barran
For COVER Curates 2022, Classic Rug Collection will be focusing on the brand’s ‘Greatest Hits Collection’—twelve impressive rugs that showcase the scope and skill of the Brooklyn-based company. Barran started the Classic Rug Collection back in 1999. Since then, she has been working with the same manufacturer in Nepal to produce her high-quality hand-knotted rugs while creating her excellent hand-tufted designs in Thailand, where she has worked with the same producer for 10 years. Communication and relationships are key to the success of the brand, as well as the keen eye of Barran, who strives for unique design and rug perfection.
Each design has its own individual narrative, many based on artworks or design objects from across the globe. So, for this ravishing retrospective we hand over to the rugs to do the talking.
Inspired by a Pucci silk scarf, the elegant Italiano is a 150-knot hand-knotted design in 75% natural silk and 25% New Zealand wool. Only two were made and they are slightly different. Barran explains: ’It took me 3 months to design this rug because it is so extremely detailed.’
Also based on a silk scarf—but this time by a Brooklyn artist—is the lustrous and intensely colourful Mango design, one of Barran’s favourites. This 300-knot natural silk rug is 2mm thick and drapes beautifully.
Square painted by Kasimir Malevich was the inspiration behind the hand-knotted wool and silk Slanted rug. The wool field features a delicate green ombre while the central raised area is in cut pile silk. ‘I’ve done a few variations of this rug, including one in pashmina and silk for a home located in the rainforest in Jamaica,’ adds Barran.
Barran’s love of artist Gustav Klimt led to the creation of her Klimt Collection, of which Red is one design—based on the painting Hope II. The silk elements glimmer against the composition’s matte wool areas and the side borders are two levels of cut-pile gold silk in two slightly different shades. Only one of these beautiful rugs exists.
Further art inspiration appears in the striking wool and silk design of Rhythm, inspired by a diptych by Robert Delaunay. Seen here in an interior setting, Barran explains the context: ‘It is part of an installation of twelve rugs that I designed for clients in South Carolina.’
There is only one Red and only one Deco Sun rug in existence. Inspired by an antique cigar case that Barran saw in a shop in London, the design was hand-tufted in Thailand, where it took a few tries to get the carving right. The final rug was well-received: ’When the rug was finished, attendees at Maison & Objet got down on their hands and knees to feel the surface of Deco Sun,’ Barran recalls.
‘I think that the key to my ability to produce such fine work is to deal with a very small number of suppliers. In that way, they understand my drawings, and they know the quality that I am expecting from them.’Barbara Barran
The original version of Firenze—depicting images from Deruta pottery—was hand-tufted but when Barran was invited to show work at Venice Design 2018, based in Palazzo Michiel, on the Grand Canal, she designed a new hand-knotted version. The latter design seen here, featured different colours in 300 knot silk with wool ‘grout lines’.
Barran was preparing for a trip to Antarctica when the idea for Ice arrived. Featuring over 22 shades of blue, this New Zealand wool rug was hand-tufted in China.
Barbara Barran has been working with the Gee’s Bend Quilters—a group of black women in Alabama—making rugs based on their work since 2003. She has shown and sold the rugs at over 25 museums in the US, paying the quilters a royalty for the use of their designs. Medallion, hand-tufted in the US, is based on a quilt by Loretta Pettway and featured on the front cover of the museum exhibition catalogue ‘Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts’.
“My work is designed for a particular home or important areas in hotels. I’m designing for a known space and to fill that need, so personalisation is everything.’Barbara Barran
Classic Rug Collection was selected by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to design and market several series of rugs based on Wright’s designs. The hand-tufted wool David Wright rug is based on a design Frank Lloyd Wright created for his son David’s home. ‘This all-looped rug features random tufting in the field, and vertical, horizontal, curved, and concentric tufting in the elements,’ explains Barran.
Jewel Box, is pure luxury and elegance; The pashmina and silk rug is based on a tiny Josef Hoffman box with cabochon jewels. Barran describes it thus: ‘This rug features so many different elements: rounded corners, high/low, cut/loop, matte/sheen. I always say that Jewel Box is a study in the rug designer’s tool box. You can see the elegance of the materials and the quality of the work, even in a photograph.’
And for the final design we move from boxes to tiles, the 100% silk hand-knotted Garden rug references a pattern from the tiles at the Rusten Pasha mosque in Istanbul and has the air of an elegant Fortuny fabric.
‘Because we are a small company, I can give personalised attention to my clients, including going to see them—whether in the US or overseas—to survey their project and to better understand their needs.’Barbara Barran
Moving on from reflecting on past designs, Barran is looking forward to 2024—the 100th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Japan—for which she is planning some very special rugs. As the inspiration for new work emerges, we look forward to the latest elegant designs from Classic Rug Collection.
Classic Rug Collection
1713 8th Avenue, Unit 1-5
Brooklyn, NY 11215