The Development of Modern Rugs

Whist the development of rugs dates back two thousand five hundred years, buying a new rug for Europeans has only remained a daunting experience since the Middle Ages. In today’s bustling market there is an endless choice of textures, styles and fibres to choose from and not forgetting the options handmade or machine made rugs. Needless to say choosing a rug can get more than a little confusing, whether to go for cheap rugs produced on machines, expensive rugs that are hand oven or something in the middle. To really appreciate what goes into a rug lets take a brief look at its origins.

While Ancient Britons were developing bronze tools and building stone circles, Persian craftsmen were hand-weaving rugs. Many of these original rugs depicted stories of battles, wealth and religious events. As the understanding of weaving techniques expanded into Turkey and Asia regional design styles developed, these styles still dominate many of the traditional rugs today. Whilst we don’t really know when the first rugs reached Europe, we do know that the Vikings brought Persian rug weaving techniques to Scandinavia and the oldest rug discovered in Europe dates back to 300BC, this was discovered by Russian archaeologists in Siberia.

We can thank the Crusaders and the Moors for introducing rugs to Europe in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. It wasn’t until the 17th century when the French broke away from the traditional Persian designs. Louis XIV commissioned the Royal Savonnerie and Aubusson workshops to create spectacular new designs to decorate the Royal Palaces. These new rug designs took on intricate floral rose themes and designs that mirrored the ornately decorated palace ceilings.

By the late 17th Century the two main textures available were flat woven, blanket like rugs and knotted rugs that had a conventional pile. In Scandinavia they were also hand knotting shaggy pile rugs that were used as warm bed cloths and as prayer mats at weddings.

The 18th Century saw the development of the Wilton loom; this weaving method combined with a Jacquard gave us a patterned carpet, faster and more efficiently. Today’s Wilton looms are based on the same weaving technique

It wasn’t until the 20th century that we witnessed the birth of hand tufted rugs. The basic method of production was developed in Whitfield County, USA by Catherine Evans. Inspired by a family heirloom she recreated a hand-tufted bedspread using a technique know as Candlewick embroidery. She created a design by sewing tick cotton yarn using a continuous stitch into a muslin sheet, then cut the tips to give a soft fluffy appearance, washing the bedspread cause the muslin to shrink and lock the tufts in place. Her bedspread cottage industry grew and moved to Dalton, Georgia where the tufting technique was adapted and mechanised to suit carpet production and the birth of the modern carpet industry. Over 90% of carpets produced throughout the World today are machine tufted. Although today hand-tufted rugs are secondary backed and have their tufts locked by adhesive, they’re still produced using the same basic method of the original candlewick bedspreads.

Over the past twenty-five centuries we have seen rugs develop from hand loomed to computerised power looms while still retaining many of the basic traditions, techniques and styles of our forefathers. At the same time there has also been massive developments in modern designs and textures, particularly in hand tufted rugs. While rugs were traditionally produced from Wool, Silk or Cotton, modern manmade fibres such as Acrylic, Nylon and Polypropylene are designed to give a greater diversity in both pastel and primary colours. All these elements are essential for creative modern rug design and production.

At Rug Zone we like to think of rugs as being a work of art for your floor. It doesn’t even have to match your décor, it can be a contrast, it can make a statement, it can be as individual as you are! For these reasons the rugs offered at Rug Zone are often only available from Rug Zone. Whether it be shaggy rugs, wool rugs, traditional rugs, handmade rugs, modern rugs, contemporary rugs, cheap rugs, large rugs, small rugs or hall runners. Then Rug Zone has rugs to suit your budget and life style.