Owner of W Studio Artistic Carpets, Alan Pourvakil discovered a deep love for textile design while growing up in Iran. After moving to Canada, he started a business specializing in Persian rugs, until he realized that there was a growing market for contemporary designs and decided to fill it. W Studio Artistic Carpets was born from Pourvakil's inspired idea that although rug making is a centuries-old art, the designs can be played with and refined to best represent the history of rug making they derive from, as well as the zeitgeist defining the current moment. Here, we talk with Pourvakil to explore the historic — and contemporary — art of rug design.
Pourvakil: W Studio carpets are unique in both their design and complexity of construction. As founder and creative director, I create every original and exclusive design. Master weavers in Nepal then hand-weave every knot with the finest Chinese silk and lanolin-rich, hand-spun Tibetan wool. Seventy-percent silk and 30% wool is a standard for our carpets — nobody else in the industry produces carpets with this much silk. Designs can also be custom ordered to any size and in a second material option of 100% wool.
Q. You have been involved in the carpet industry for more than 30 years ago. What have been the highlights of your work over the past few decades?
Pourvakil: I've been in the carpet industry for more than 30 years and some of my more noted highlights include being commissioned by the Royal Ontario Museum to produce carpets for their galleries for art from China, Korea, Japan, First Nations, America, and Africa, as well as the Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery. I won America's Magnificent Carpet Award for best contemporary design in both 2001 and 2003, designed carpets for Canadian embassies and official residences throughout the world, and won over 30 design awards at IIDEX/NeoCon Canada.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in making and selling hand-knotted carpets?
Pourvakil: I started loving woven floor art in my early years as a child in Iran. When I came to Canada, it was natural to pursue this line of work, so I started my own consulting business to help find rugs for my clients. Later on, I also opened a boutique store in downtown Toronto, where I sold mainly Persian rugs. I revelled in speaking with my clients, not only getting to know their spaces, but getting to personally know the people and designers I worked with as well. My favorite part of being in the carpet business is seeing the look of joy that appears on my clients' faces when they see their new rug in their home for the first time. I feel like I'm bringing them that lifetime of happiness and comfort.
I mainly worked with Persian rugs until 1998, when I realized that there was a huge need for fresh and contemporary designs. I decided to go to Nepal with my own ideas and concepts, filling the gap of what I thought modern consumers were needing and craving. I wanted to create something that had never been seen before in the industry, that was both artistic and livable while being timeless at the same time.
Q: People have been creating hand-knotted carpets for more than two thousand years. How do you see yourself as part of this history of rug weaving?
Pourvakil: As humans have evolved, so have home furnishings, decor, and the way we live. I see the importance of having art on the floor more than ever before as today's homes have more bare floors and open-concept layouts with fewer walls for hanging art. Besides the color, design, and beauty each of our carpets brings to a space, carpets now define areas, ground rooms, protect floors, and, most importantly, have acoustic benefits which quieten a room drastically. With our wide range of designs and textures, our rugs are destined to be tomorrow's heirlooms.
Q: Community is also important to you as a brand. How has W Studio Artistic Carpets participated in the community in recent years?
Pourvakil: Giving back to the communities has been an integral part of W Studio right from its inception. I take pride in giving back, and I have been involved in many charities supporting various causes, like Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, AIDS Committee of Toronto, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, GlobalMedic, Eva's Home for Life in Toronto, and Humanity First. W Studio only employs highly skilled master weavers to produce our carpets, and we pay the highest wages in the industry to ensure our weavers and their families are well taken care of.
Q: How would you like to evolve the brand in the future?
Pourvakil: W Studio is always evolving. Our business has been mostly high-end residential; however, using W DREAM (a fully customizable printed carpet) and W TUFTED (a fully customizable, hand-tufted wool carpet), we have recently expanded into commercial and hospitality sectors with the completion of many condo, hotel, and restaurant projects. These carpets can even be produced as acoustic wall art, absorbing echo in open-concept areas and ambient noise in high-traffic spaces. Through our Artist Series Program, we continue to partner with creative, like-minded, and extremely talented artists, adding excitement to our collection of designs.
We also have a concierge service called W SELECT through which clients can send us their design directions, and based on their unique colurs and rug dimensions, we can provide a range of options that would pair well with their space. We provide complimentary ground shipping across mainland US and Canada (inclusive of duties and customs) to all our clients.
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