Meet the Ger­man-born rug de­signer whose work is in­spired by im­per­fec­tion and faded beauty

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Style News -

De­spite be­ing de­scended from two gen­er­a­tions of car­pet deal­ers,

Jan Kath never in­tended to fol­low in his par­ents’ foot­steps. But at the age of 20, while back­pack­ing through Asia, the Ger­man-born rug de­signer found him­self in Nepal, where friends of his fam­ily of­fered him a job as a qual­ity man­ager at their car­pet pro­duc­tion busi­ness. ‘ When I was a boy, my fa­ther and I vis­ited man­u­fac­tur­ers in Iran and Turkey, which trained my eye and gave me a fun­da­men­tal un­der­stand­ing of colour com­bi­na­tions and pro­por­tions,’ says Kath. ‘ When I ar­rived in Kath­mandu, my con­nec­tion with the car­pet world was re-es­tab­lished. I took con­trol of the man­u­fac­tur­ing process, then later be­gan to pro­duce orig­i­nal de­signs, devel­op­ing my own style.’ Fast for­ward 24 years and Kath is one of the world’s most in-de­mand car­pet man­u­fac­tur­ers, with rugs ex­hib­ited glob­ally and work scoop­ing mul­ti­ple in­dus­try prizes, in­clud­ing a Car­pet De­sign Award and a pres­ti­gious Red Dot Award.

Global recog­ni­tion first came with Kath’s 2005 ‘Erased Clas­sic’ col­lec­tion. Based on tra­di­tional ori­en­tal de­signs, the rugs were wo­ven, then treated with a lengthy fin­ish­ing process. ‘ We used fire and water to age the rugs un­til they be­came thin and looked a hun­dred years old,’ says Kath. ‘The whole process can take up to a month.’ Since then, im­per­fec­tion and ero­sion have con­tin­ued to play a cen­tral role in his work. His new ‘Heiter Bis Wolkig’ col­lec­tion also plays on the idea of faded beauty, with pas­tel cloud­scapes in­spired by the church paint­ings of Baroque artists un­furl­ing over faint scrolled pat­terns. De­spite a love of the dis­tressed, Kath is stead­fastly un­com­pro­mis­ing about qual­ity – car­pets are hand-wo­ven in Nepal, Thai­land, In­dia and Morocco us­ing the finest ma­te­ri­als ( jan-kath.de).

‘ We used fire and water to age the rugs un­til they be­came thin and looked 100 years old’

From top The Front show­room in London’s May­fair; ‘Kir­man Rob­son Raved’ from the ‘Erased Her­itage’ col­lec­tion; ‘Cloud 1’, both avail­able at Front (fron­trugs.com)

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