An Interview with Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company

I fondly remember my first visit to the Kelly Wearstler flagship store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles a few years ago. The store was bursting with a curated blend of Kelly’s lifestyle products alongside her ever expanding collections of furniture, lighting and bedding. I was hooked on her Californian style, heavy on the prints and colour, showing no fear. Raw yet refined, moulding colour, sophistication and a spirited spontaneity. Wearstler has revolutionised the look, feel and meaning of modern American design.

Listed in Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design list, The A-List from Elle Décor, France AD’s World’s Top Interior Designers and one of Wallpaper’s Top 20 Designers. Want to know more? The team at The Rug Company caught up with Kelly prior to her new designs being unveiled this month at Decorex during London Design Festival 2016.

Serpent by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company ~ Hand knotted Tibetan wool 2.74×1.83m £4,412 (or £775/m2)

So tell us, how do you find your inspiration?

Fashion, art, architecture, Mother Nature. Inspiration is everywhere. The first place I go when I want to get inspired is my library at home. It houses over 2,000 books on everything from fashion and jewellery design to landscape architecture. I collect vintage and out of print titles.

What was your first design project?

A residential project. I started out with one client. I was referred by a friend and hired to design one room in their home and slowly grew my business through word of mouth. It was 1995 when I founded my studio. My first hotel project was The Avalon, a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills (The Avalon has the LWSY seal of approval, I stayed there a couple of years ago).

Tell us about your new designs for The Rug Company?

My rug designs are a mixology of classic and modern, from patterns found in nature, the striations of a shoreline, the natural veining of marble, to architectural and graphic art. My new designs are hand-painted art pieces done in my studio.

How do you create your designs and develop the beautiful colour palettes?

I’m always intrigued by clever use of materiality and luxurious textures. The initial spark of inspiration can come from a pattern or colour seen in nature to architectural and graphic art. It’s all about different elements coming together to form a composition. I find that mixing raw, organic components with refined classic detailing, playing with scale of pattern and rich colour combinations can lead to an exciting, and truly original design.

Graffito by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company ~ Hand knotted bamboo silk 2.74 x 1.83m £2,908 (or £580/m2)

How would you define your decorating style?

My aesthetic is about mixology. Always something old and something new, raw and refined, masculine and feminine. The tension of opposites, the juxtaposition of seemingly dichotomous things interests me very much. That combination is sexy and unexpected.

What do you enjoy most about about designing rugs?

It’s like creating a painting for a room – it’s a work of art from which the entire room enfolds.

How does your collection reflect your style?

My designs can look transitional and contemporary, or neutral and timeless, according the space in which they are placed. All of my rug designs are hand-painted, in the classic tradition, and then brought to life by weavers. Variations in texture and the tension of the pattern work add a beautiful element of rawness to the refined, artisanal qualities of the handmade rugs. 

The Rug Company’s rugs are all handmade, they will last a lifetime and longer. Do you consider this when designing, or do you design for the moment?

The craftsmanship and quality of The Rug Company’s rugs are so incredible. I design knowing the pieces will have a soulful, luxurious feel using different weaves and mixing beautiful materials, like bamboo, silk, wool and other yarns. The possibilities for tension with texture, colour, pattern and materiality is all part of the design process.

Wake by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company. ~ Hand knotted Tibetan wool and silk 2.74 x 1.83m £5,992 (or £1,195/m2)

What was your first rug memory?

Going to auctions with my mom when I was young. We would see these incredible vintage carpets in interesting colours and patterns. I found this discovery exciting.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to choose a rug for their home?

Have an open mind. You can have a couple of rugs in one room, there is no rule for having just one. And be adventurous with colour choice. There are so many great rugs in fantastic colour ways and patterns.

Creating a bespoke rug can be fun. Tell us about one that you’ve done that you love.

I created this geometric, colour-blocked design for a client’s living room that is a subtle yet striking piece of artistry that was the centrepiece for the entire room.

And one of my own rugs designed for one of the courtyard facing rooms in my home. The rug incorporates a pattern of elongated triangles in ivory and deep rose with an interplay of hand-drawn lines and dots.

Do you have any unexpected colour combinations that you particularly love? Or textural?

I love all colours, there’s so many. Experimenting with colour combinations can bring out unexpected magic. I’m inspired by being in the moment and playing with combinations of hue, brightness and saturation. Combining silks with wool is so sexy. I love the texture from a silk paired with a raw, loose wool.


Tracery by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company ~ Hand knotted Tibetan wool and silk 2.74 x 1.83m £5,465 (or £1,090/m2)

What rugs do you have in your home?

Tracery (above) and custom Rug Company rugs.

You have designed beautiful furniture and objets as well as interiors and fashion. Is there something else that you dream of designing?

I’ve yet to design a boat or a plane.

What does the word ‘quality’ mean to you?

Quality is the ultimate luxury. Designs that have an impeccable hand and authentic respect for materiality are the essence of quality.

Staccato by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company ~ Hand knotted Tibetan wool and silk 2.74 x 1.83m £7,145 (or £1,425/m2)

The Rug Company booth featuring Kelly’s designs can be found at Decorex Syon Park between the 18th & 24th September (stand C34). Amongst the new designs will be beautifully crafted rugs by international designers including Vivienne Westwood, Alexandra Champalimaud, Lorenzo Castilo and Elie Saab, each one entirely handmade by highly skilled weavers in Nepal. For further information click here.

For a list of all Worldwide stockists click here. London Stockists listed below.

555 King’s Road, London SW6 2EB, Tel: 020 7384 0980 click for map

Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL,Tel: 020 7584 8482 click for map 

124 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UE, Tel: 020 7229 5148 click for map

Images c/o The Rug Company – visit the website here. Follow on Instagram @therugcompany & Twitter here

This article was published September 2016

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