Niche Interiors

Chad Stark’s Insider Rug Secrets

Selecting hand knotted rugs is one of the highlights of our job as luxury San Francisco interior designers! The beauty of a handmade rug is unparalleled, from the subtle variations in the knots to the way the light catches the silk fibers. Stark Carpet has been the leading purveyor of high quality, handmade rugs to the design trade for over 75 years. We turned to Chad Stark, Senior Vice President, to get the inside scoop on carpet care and current interior design trends!

Luxury geometric rug in Pacific Heights Home designed by San Francisco interior designer Niche Interiors

What are the three most important features to look for when selecting hand knotted rugs?

The most important things to consider are one’s budget, the reputation of the dealer you are visiting, and the design environment/performance concerns to be considered.

Everyone appreciates the beauty and craft that goes into a hand knotted rug but not everyone wants to wait 7-9 months. Can you delve into the process and explain what goes into creating a rug? How many people work on an average hand knotted rug? 

Rug making is the single most collaborative of all the art forms.  This is one of the reasons why rug production is supported and encouraged in poorer countries. A single rug employs so many people! Let’s start with the sheep herders, the wool shearers, the wool spinners, the dyers, the designers and factory staff, of course do not forget the weavers, but also do not forget all the people that wash, clip and finish your carpet and last but not least the fine folks that pack and ship that carpet to you! We are easily in the hundreds of persons required to make a single carpet. It is Stark’s job to coordinate all of these people in order to deliver our custom orders on time to the most discriminating buyers in the world.

Most of our hand knotted products take between 3- 9 month to produce based on complexity of design and the knotted quality. For a 9×12 rug each weaver can cover about 3 feet in width so to produce a 9×12 rug we are engaging three weavers for an average of six months working 8 hours six days a week. In total we are talking about 3,744 man-hours to weave just one 9×12 carpet. If one calculates the man-hours of all the other processes mentioned previously one should arrive at the logical conclusion that hand knotted rugs equate artistically to one of the greatest values on the planet!

Luxury carpet from Stark Carpet shown in a San Francisco living room by California interior designer

What steps does Stark take to ensure fair labor practices and to prevent child labor at your mills?

Stark buys directly from the manufacturers in the countries of origin who we know have fair labor practices and without child labor. We have full time field staff working everyday on-site with our manufacturers inspecting and managing our production orders. Upper management spends months each year overseas vetting and working with its manufacturers to improve the quality of our supply chain. We believe our day to day contact with our manufactures is the best way to secure the quality of the work environment for weavers and our product for our clients.

Cleaning and caring for your hand knotted rug is so important. Do you have any tips for keeping wool and silk rugs looking their best?

Suction of your rug is the best way to go for day-to-day maintenance. For red wine drinkers, I always recommend they keep white wine in the house. If one spills red wine on wool or silk,  the best thing is to blot up the red with a clean cloth and then saturate the area with white wine lightly blot and let dry. A little known secret is white removes red.  

Rug pads: Why do we need them?

Padding reduces friction, slippage and impact pressure on the weave structure of hand woven carpets. 

Luxury silk and wool carpet in San Francisco Bay Area home designed by California interior design firm Niche Interiors

What’s new and exciting in the world of hand knotted carpets? Any trends, styles, or manufacturing techniques that you are especially excited about?

This is an ancient industry based on 4,000-year-old technology. Manufacturing is very much the same as it always has been. The advent of CAD has made a huge impact on the designs being made today. Such detailed abstract and non-repetitive designs were never possible prior to the millennium.

In your opinion why do you think hand knotted rugs are so much more beautiful than other types of rugs? 

It is very simple. Hand knotted rugs are a reflection of their makers. They are beautiful, diverse, imperfect and therefore individual. No two are ever exactly alike…the same as their makers.

A huge thank you to Chad for his valuable industry insights!

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