Carpet imported from India by Samad Brothers. Dream Collection rugs like this one, though there are many different designs in the series, have a recognizable character, associated more with European than Middle Eastern or Asian design.
Two of the most eloquent gentlemen in the Oriental rug business are David Samad and Malcolm Samad. David and Malcolm Samad established Samad Brothers Oriental Rugs in New York in 1985 — an auspicious date, I believe, with which I associate the beginning of the renaissance of Oriental rugs — or when it began to show up in America, anyway.
For the first ten years or so the Samad brothers dealt in a variety of Chinese and Indian rugs. They were drawn to Jaipur in India largely because most other importers were not, and there, in the mid-1990s, they were introduced to what may be the only family in India producing Oriental carpets on their own initiative with natural dyes. The introduction resulted in a relationship that made Oriental rug history. From it were born the famous Dream Collection and Noble House carpets that rival any made in the past eighty years.
Malcolm and David Samad are not interested in literally reproducing antique rugs. Instead, they give their producers in India designs of antique pieces as starting points from which weavers can improvise, and give them specific colors with which to work. The resulting carpets are unlike any made before. In terms the Samad brothers use, their carpets are ‘recreations — not reproductions’. They re-create old carpets (a process that involves creativity) rather than merely copy them.
The Dream Collection was unveiled in 1996 in eight patterns. Today there are thirty-nine copyrighted patterns from classical or original designs. They are made to be reproducible, but steps are taken to give each carpet an individual character. Though synthesized Swiss dyes are used, the rugs are dyed in small batches to prevent too great a uniformity of colors. A blend of wools is spun together by hand, giving the surface of each carpet a slight nubby quality and a lot of character.
Samad is no longer weaving their line of rugs called Noble House, one of the best productions in the market several years ago. (A few are still in rug stores, however, and they remain among the market’s stars.) They are expensive carpets with natural dyes and machine-spun wool, and essentially are one-of-a-kind. The company says that a stumble in the U.S. economy eroded support for expensive, one-of-a-kind, antique-looking rugs, and Samad Brothers is now concentrating on chrome-dyed rugs woven from opulent blends of New Zealand and Argentine wool, and others that are a blend of wool and silk.
Samad’s relatively new production, Golden Age, is especially successful. Their soft, lustrous finish sets standards for the industry, so I had to ask how it was achieved. Malcolm and David Samad cheerfully pleaded ignorance as to the details. “It’s better that I don’t know,” said David, perhaps secure in the assurance that, even if brutally tortured, he could be trusted never to surrender the secret formula.