Men’s dialogue: the designer and special guest of Innovations@DOMOTEX, Roberto Palomba from Milan, and carpet designer Jan Kath meeting for the first time ever. Photo © DOMOTEX
“Bidjar Highgate Aerial” from the collection “Erased Heritage” by Jan Kath. Photo © Jan Kath
The night sky in Nepal, taken by the Hubble space telescope, inspires Jan Kath for “Spacecrafted”. Photo © Jan Kath
Roberto and Ludovica Palomba not only renovated a 500 year old mill in Puglia, but created also special handcrafted rugs. Photo © Palomba Serafini Associati
Roberto and Ludovica Palomba not only renovated a 500 year old mill in Puglia, but created also special handcrafted rugs. Photo © Palomba Serafini Associati
Passion for premium rugs: Roberto Palomba and Jan Kath in Berlin. Photo © DOMOTEX
The renaissance of the rug: Roberto Palomba meets Jan Kath
Dec 8, 2014

Martina Metzner: What do you think about the trend of a renaissance of carpets and rugs?

Roberto Palomba: The trend of architects designing not only the building but also the interior has been in evidence for a couple of years now. And sometimes, in their eyes, furniture is a disturbance. Now we are gradually seeing more attention to decoration. I think that carpets are very important in defining the different parts of the house. Bringing back the idea of carpets is not just a matter of making a place warmer or more pleasant to walk in. It’s also that idea of decoration. This kind of decoration can be fantastic, especially after minimalism. Because minimalism creates the perfect environment to decorate the floor. As when you hang a painting in a house with plain white or gray walls. We can use carpets for decoration in the same way as hanging paintings on the wall.

What do you think about the material innovation we are seeing in flooring?

Roberto Palomba: To be honest, I am not interested in it. For me only real materials exist, real natural stone, real wood, and carpets and water. I’m not interested in plastic flooring, laminate or things like that.

When you design interiors, how do you handle flooring and carpets?

Roberto Palomba: We start with our style, as well as the mood that comes from the location. For example, we designed a house in Puglia in the south of Italy. It was a renovation of an old mill, built 500 years ago. It was all in stone in classic white and the floor had gone. It had been destroyed so we had to replace the floor, for which we used a local sandstone, very clear, very delicate. We designed some rugs for it. They were made by hand in Pakistan in a very basic, very simple manner. We designed the pattern, using part of the tattoo of a friend of the owners of the house. The tattoo means happiness. We liked this symbol and used it as a template for the entire design of the rugs.

Looking here at Jan Kath’s reinterpretation of the classic Persian rug, the model “Bidjar Highgate Aerial” from the collection “Erased Heritage”: Could you imagine integrating this kind of rug in your interior designs?

Roberto Palomba: Yeah, some of them, yes. I very much like the rug with its facets that sometimes stand out and sometimes blend in; Chinese silk meets Persian rug. I like the idea of these two stories mixed together. And I like the ivory clouds.

Jan Kath: You can really see it; usually people say you are scratching something off or whatever. It is a cloud, a picture taken from a plane.

Can you explain the technique?

Jan Kath: It’s not done on top of an existing carpet, but made in a single process. It’s not an old carpet. I have developed a finishing technique that makes the carpet feel like it’s 100 years old. We actually burn the carpet. The silk reacts slower than the wool in the burning process. I work with Photoshop and everything comes down to a pixel. Four people need four months to make it. Sometimes the weaver has to change the material even just for a single knot in order to come as close as possible to photorealism. Some weavers hate me, weil es sehr kompliziert ist, weil man den Teppich nicht wie bei klassischen Mustern blind knüpfen kann (laughing). This model actually relates to the carpet business. A lot of people have foolishly finished thinking about carpets because they couldn’t see the potential any more. They grew up in houses with a lot of carpets. They realize their value but they couldn’t live like their parents. With something like this I’m addressing a lot of people who have a relation to it. I’m trying to bring them back.

This is interesting because you grew up with these kinds of classic carpets. What do your parents think about what you do now?

Jan Kath: My parents were retailers. I started the production. Let me put it this way: I work with both of my parents. They joined my company when they were about to retire. I think that ultimately I’m doing what my father always wanted to do. My grandfather was a very strong guy and said you have to continue the family business with just buying and selling. He was always a very creative person.

Roberto Palomba: He was lucky enough to have a good son.

Jan Kath: We work very closely together. I think he’s kind of proud that we’ve managed to make this product survive.

Stylepark: How do you manage to be a designer and an entrepreneur at once?

Jan Kath: I have a visual mind. To draw a product, this is the final thing, I have to have it ready here (taps his head). This always keeps working. I don’t have to sit somewhere and invent something. I work a lot on planes. I have offices in Vancouver and Miami. And I go to Kathmandu, Mongolia, Thailand, Turkey, India and Marocco.

Roberto Palomba: I do exactly the same. Unfortunately I sleep very well on planes.