Magic carpets: Wallpaper* meets Jan Kath

Jan Kath with some of the eponymous company’s designs at the Bochum HQ. 
For our April issue German survey, we spoke to master rug designer Jan Kath about his orient-inspired collections. Pictured: Jan Kath with some of the eponymous company’s designs at the Bochum HQ.
(Image credit: Robbie Lawrence)

As part of our April 2016 issue German survey, Wallpaper* quizzed Jan Kath, the creative force behind the eponymous rug brand, on his flights of fancy.

W*: How do you bring 3D qualities to a flat surface?
JK: By choosing the right amount of colours, the right texture and by using a very high knot count. A single knot has to be treated as if it were a pixel... the higher the resolution is or the higher the knot count is, the more photorealistic a textile or a carpet can appear.

How does nature inspire you?
Flying in a plane over the northern hemisphere inspired the very successful design ‘Tabriz Canal Aerial’ [from the 'Erased Heritage' collection]. Walking in the jungle of south Nepal gave me the final kick to realise my 'Jungle' collection. The night sky in the Himamlayas inspired me for my 'Spacecrafted' series.

How does your philosophy of 'slow making' work?
A carpet grows row by row. To produce a piece that is 2.5m wide, four or five carpet weavers sit side-by-side on a bench for three to five months. Slow making is the natural process of weaving a carpet. Sometimes clients think that, if they throw more money at us, we can speed up the process. But in most of the cases this will not work. The process takes as long as it takes.

How important is tradition in your pieces?
Our carpets are hand-woven in the Himalayas; in Agra, the ancient Mogul capital in India; or in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, in line with centuries-old traditions. The 'Erased Heritage' collection is a homage to the traditional Oriental carpet. But the simple reproduction of old ideas is not my philosophy. The word ‘Erased’ is an indication that I incorporate our trademark alienation effects in these creations. A specially developed antique finishing technique makes the rugs look as if they have already been lying on the parlour floor of a manor house for years.

As originally featured in the April 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*205)

'Angles'

Kath says, 'A carpet grows row by row. To produce a piece that is 2.5m wide, four or five carpet weavers sit side by side on a bench for three to five months.' Pictured: 'Angles'

(Image credit: Robbie Lawrence)

'Angles'

The designer adds, 'Sometimes clients think that, if they throw more money at us, we can speed up the process. But in most of the cases this will not work. The process takes as long as it takes.' Pictured: 'Angles'

(Image credit: Robbie Lawrence)

'Angles'

The carpets are hand-woven in Agra, the ancient Mogul capital in India; in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, and in the Himalayas. Pictured: 'Angles'

(Image credit: Robbie Lawrence)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit Jan Kath’s website (opens in new tab)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.