Differentiating Between the Three Major Divisions of Modern Rugs

While it’s easy to get lost in the luxurious antiquity of Oriental and Persian rugs, modern rugs also command our attention with fresh bold statements or new perspectives on classic styles. When searching for rugs of modern design, you’ll often find them divided into two major categories: traditional rugs and contemporary rugs. Some will fall into a less defined third category of transitional rugs. Considering all three categories, it’s important to understand that hard-and-fast rules are rarely applied in determining a rug’s placement. In other words, you can take this information more as a non-committal guidebook than a strict rulebook. With that in mind, what characteristics determine the classification of these modern rugs?

Traditional Rugs
Chances are you’re already well versed in traditional rugs. These luxury rugs pay homage to the woven artistry of past Asian and European styles. Their reverence for historical patterns is so loyal that sometimes they painstakingly replicate precise patterns that have been in play for centuries. A certain level of class exudes from traditional modern rugs such that they are rarely used casually. Rather these rugs are intended for magnificent presentation due to their palatial character. That’s not to say that traditional rugs don’t at times find their places into more casual settings but that is purely up to the discerning eye of the rug’s owner. Ornate patterns are a hallmark of this rug type with regally tortuous borders and detailed floral flourishes.

Contemporary Rugs
By comparison, contemporary rugs are often more adventurous in design, owing to a liberty from time-honored patterns. Colors are often more daring with dramatic, severe geometry emboldened by shocking contrasts. There’s a mathematical precision etched into the patterns of contemporary rugs that draws parallels to standards of modern art. Fashionably minimal and trendy spaces are easily tied together with the right contemporary rug. That’s not to say that these rugs are free of debt to previous styles but, rather than finding influence in antique patterns, they draw inspiration from more recent movements such as art deco and even pop art.

Transitional Rugs
Sometimes a rug may blur the boundary between traditional and contemporary. In fact, it happens often enough to warrant its own category; the appropriately titled transitional variety of rug. Transitional rugs are typically born of a desire to honor classic designs without the strict adherence and reverence of traditional varieties, instead opting for the liberty enjoyed by contemporary designs. With transitional rugs, you’re often met with classic floral motifs presented with a startling lack of symmetry or time-honored patterns unconstrained by traditional borders. Transitional rugs almost seek to defy definition at times, which actually lends to their popularity as they can move beyond the rigid constraints of traditional carpets and the less-defined yet still present boundaries of contemporary types.

Yet, the entire concept of boundaries between these rug types is an unspoken rule at best but more realistically a simple guide. Just as sub-genres of classical music can help provide direction for a music lover seeking a specific aural flavor, these rug categories serve as more of a directional guide of taste. Whether you’re enamored by the risks taken by contemporary rugs, swept away by the pride and honor steeped in the patterns of traditional rugs, or enjoying the lack of constraint in transitional rugs, you’ll find there’s always a rug that suits your style.
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