Nook: Style Counsel: Joan Weissman on Rugs


Style Counsel: Joan Weissman on Rugs

Artist Joan Weissman creates gorgeous, custom rugs that are inspired by a wide range of things: lotus flowers, native Caribbean palms, ginkgo leaves, rock formations, even vintage Japanese kimonos.

She works one-on-one with clients to create handmade custom designs in silk, wool and hemp. Her designs are also translated to terrazzo tile, which is ideal for highly-trafficked areas that require extra durability. Her designs have graced several well-known interiors, including the Grand Hyatt in Seattle and boutique hotels, Neiman-Marcus, public buildings and fine homes throughout the country.

As our longtime friend, we've turned to Joan for design advice countless times over the years and have always benefited from her expertise. We invited her to share her insights about what to consider when buying and designing with rugs.

Bayahibe, hand-tufted wool( top) and Lotus, Tibetan hand-knotted wool/silk
Above: Kyoto hand-tufted wool (l); Leaf Stripe, Soumak with natural dyes

All images © Joan Weissman Custom Rugs

Silk/wool rugs (top, middle), sustainable hemp (l) and silk/hemp blend

Fiber selection: The choice of fiber determines the level of luxury. For optimal luxury, choose a rug with a high silk to wool ratio. It has a lustrous sheen that will always look elegant, because silk catches the light in different directions. Wool rugs are durable, fade-resistant and easy-to-clean.

Color: When it comes to rugs, you want one with colors that are either in the same family or have the same level of lightness or darkness. A richly-colored rug with reds, oranges and greens looks sophisticated if the values are similar. If the color values are of a similar depth or the shades are in a similar hues, even bright colors can look subdued.

Weissman's Lotus design, shown in different colorways

Impact: A rug can give the entire room its personality, or become an element that complements an overall look. Choose strong patterns if you want a rug to become the focal point in a room. Consider your furniture, curtains and artwork. Go bold if other items aren't heavily patterned. If you already have a lot of pattern in room, then choose a rug with a lot of texture or a subtle design.

Eco-friendliess: Rugs that are 100-percent sustainable are made with undyed yarns. Undyed wool from sheep comes in a range of neutrals - grays, creams, browns -- and it has a textured, tweedy look. Hemp is another totally green product that comes in earth tones and adds a lot of texture to a room.

Orion, Tibetan undyed wool/silk (l) and Ginkgo, wool/silk, (r)

All images © Joan Weissman Custom Rugs

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