Modern Area Rugs: Old or New, a Rug is not a Carpet

One of the great defining qualities of a rug is that it is not a carpet. A carpet is installed in a wall-to-wall, all-over manner covering and masking a contiguous area of flooring; in contrast a rug exists within a space, has its own edges and defines a discrete area of floor within a room or space. As commonly said, a rug is art for the floor, and we can understand how this is true if we think of the connection between a painting to the wall and the rug to the floor. Of course we are not, most of us, creatures of walls. We stand upright and walk with our feet on the ground nearly all our waking hours. So a rug is like a painting, if a painting could be walked upon. Sometimes a painting may be walk-on-able, you say? But let’s leave that thought for now and return to the rug. 

A rug has edges and inherently gives definition to anything set upon it– be that a bed, a lounge suite, or a banquet table. A modern banquet table.

One Palm Residence by Studio M featuring the Haute Bohemian Collection. Photographed by Oculis Project

Here is a dining table fit for a modern banquet. The room is light and airy. The color of the wood is quiet and understated. Lines are simple, decorations minimalist. Natural patterns predominate in a space of clean lines and simple shapes. And below the table we see the rug. Its open woven grid motif reinforces the openness of the room and creates an area of delicate structure. This structure on the floor establishes an organizing framework for the table and chairs, and in hand, spatial meaning becomes clearer throughout the room.


Los Angeles Residence by Night Palm featuring the Fohn rug from the Haute Bohemian Collection. Photographed by Kelly Marshall.

Here is a dining environment in which modern and classical motifs coexist with great elegance, partly through the role of the rug. We quickly understand the table is the central feature of the room– emphasized from above by the mid-century star-burst chandelier, and grounded by the Fohn rug, an earthy textural delight in a neutral taupe. Draped windows admit a luminous glow, that dances across the molding in classical rhythm. And in the center, the rug: understated yet key the rug defines the focus and establishes the place.

Una Casa Privada by Una Malan featuring the Sahara Collection. Photographed by Douglas Friedman

The Amihan rug is a pleasure of ordered texture. Here featured in the subdued Dove colorway, its tactile pattern of pile is punctuated with contrasting long knots in a deeper gray. The Amihan rug establishes the bed area in this light-infused and cozy room. Contrast between the warm wood of the flooring and the quieter neutrals of the rug differentiates the bed from other areas within the room. 


La Granada Residence by LALA Reimagined featuring the Division rug from the Liesel Plambeck Collection. Photographed by Roberto Garcia

One characteristic of modern design is simplified shapes. In this living room designed by LALA Reimagined, shape takes a fresh direction, and the Division rug from Liesel Plambeck’s collection perfectly rounds out the room.

Whether with shape or texture, modern rugs bring focus to the poetry and purpose within inhabited space. Simplicity is often integral to the modern design strategy with texture, shape, or minimal motifs taking the lead. Area rugs are helpful to demonstrate emphasis and functionality in large spaces. From seating to dining to sleep, the rug establishes an atmosphere with the furnishings set upon it. Defining micro-locals in a larger room clarifies the experience of a room and its uses.  


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