Rugging in Florida

The world is made up of all kinds which you might say makes it go round.  I recently came back from a home design show at a design center near Naples, FL. I guess it was coincidental that my judging experience at the Carpet Design Awards competition in Hanover, Germany in January was still very fresh in my mind.  I have said how struck I was by the avant-garde out-of-the-box approach to new rug design orchestrated by mainly non-US producers.  The restrained traditional rug styles espoused by West Coast Floridians came in complete contrast with the often outrageous color and design combinations emerging from Europe.  Never before had the gulf—no pun intended since I was on the Gulf of Mexico!–in rug tastes seemed so wide.

On the west coast of Florida, people are not looking for any in-your-face excitement—just soothing Peshawars with open Sultanabad or Oushak pattern or Persian city-weave reproductions. On the more contemporary front, they will venture into quiet Tibetans in monochromatic tones or restrained patterns.

I got a feel for how conservative trends tend to be here as an elderly man glanced at my book, The Decorative Carpet, and was shocked to see an image featuring a very elegant Tabriz placed in a contemporary living room with modern art. I tried to explain to him that was the point of eclectic design but he only replied “Very odd!” as he stalked off to his next venue.   I wish I could have shown him images of the more far-out finalists in Germany and gaged his reaction.

Admittedly, we are talking about a region in the U.S. whose major population consists of retirees or “Snowbirds” from the more traditional Midwest who are particularly averse to decorative change.  Yet, however decoratively creative other segments of the US population may be—in large urban areas on the East and West Coasts for instance—I had to recognize that what I saw in Florida represents mainstream America.  Beware then to the trendy avant-garde—the welcome mat is limited here!