Over dyed Rugs - the untold story

The Rug Shed

August 19 2018

When we hear the word ‘Persian Rugsor ‘Oriental rugs, we immediately think of floral or geometrically rich and dense coloured patterned rugs, and quite rightly so. Traditionally, these type of rugs were woven keeping conventional style in mind and  has been sort of carried forward in similar designs. Although influenced by changing tastes, these rugs have mostly remained ‘traditional’ or ‘classic’ in styles, so clearly there was a market for modern handmade rugs.

Most of the modern rugs started in either tufted design or simple contemporary pattern. As the time and technology evolved, designers would create a design in one corner of the world and sell the design to the producers in India. The producers then translate that design, knot by knot, to autocade design and create some sort of ‘map’ for the often technologically naive weavers. The weavers will then follow the coded map for different material and colours to eventually form the overall pattern. This allowed them not only to make most complex of the designs, but also to recreate numerous pieces with little difference between the two, if at all. This gave the weavers ability to custom make any design in any size, or colour using bespoke service for customers. Abstract Rugs designs is one example of such rugs.

Not long ago, however, ‘Over dyed’ rugs came into the horizon when someone got this bright idea of collecting vintage rugs and recolouring them into more contemporary, bright assorted colours and selling them as modern upcycled Persian rugs. Most rug dealers and importers were too afraid, however, to invest in such styles as they deemed it very risky. Over dyed rugs rugs, however, were very well received and has been a big hit with interior designers. 

An Ovredyed Rug and an Overdyed Vintage cushion in denim and sea blue colours.

The process of Overdyed rugs is, however, brutally simple. So simple that one often wonders’ why didn’t any one else think of that? Considering the fame of Persian and Oriental rugs and the age old art of weaving, there have always been a fair amount of older, more worn out rugs on the market, who no one really fondly desired. So these would either be sold at heavily marked down, pre loved, prices or would simply be discarded and replaced with the newer 'shinier'’version of the rugs. So producers would collect these old rugs and bring them to their workshops. This is where they would first even up their distressed look by various methods including, but not limited to stone, washing.  After being thoroughly washed, cleaned and then distressed, they would be decoloured using various herbal material and sometimes bleach. This method was reducing its original colour to bare minimum. Once distressed and decolourised, these rugs would then be as good as Picasso’s blank canvas. Any colour could be added to completely transform the idea, look and usage of once an old rug. 

As the demand increased, more colours were added to the spectrum of these rugs, the processes were fine-tuned and demand increased. These rugs are now available in a range of colours, dual pile length and even variation of different colours in the same rug. Not every old rug is, however, suitable for this process. The rug has to be of a certain fineness or density for it to withstand the ageing process.  

Our Vintage Overdyed rugs collection in London warehouse is the largest in the UK.

Today, many department stores have bespoke variations of these rugs in their commercial showrooms, many modern houses, villas, apartments and mansions boast these once traditional designed rugs in variety of colours. The success of overdyed rugs did not lie in their colours, but rather in that distressed look. The feeling of looking at a worn out vintage rug is parallel to the feeling of glancing into the window and visiting old the Iran through that. Owning a historical piece, that collaborates with our modern sense, turned out to be a perfect recipe for success. There seemed to be a gap on the market that could only be reasonably filled with once old rugs. Reuse of these older rugs is a true testament to its value and how Persian Rugs of good quality can never really loose their true value. There is always a use for it and a remarkable one at that.

P.S Feel free to get in touch for any feedback, or just and advise you might need. We’d love to hear from you.

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