Popular and Collectible Rugs in Today's Market
The rug market is primarily driven by three groups of buyers, namely dealers, collectors and designers. Each follow slightly different direction, but all cross paths often.
Overall the aesthetic of rugs that consistently perform well over the years are: classic and timeless designs with good contrast or analogous tone-on-tone. Carpets of era-specific colors or fad type allure tend to not endure.
Collectors actively seek unique, rare, old and fine antique rugs generally from the first quarter 20th century and earlier for city rugs, and 1880’s and earlier for nomadic/migratory and tribal/town rugs. Condition is generally of importance, as are other criteria above. Within each type, certain characteristics and even weaving techniques can greatly add to the rarity and value of a piece.
Designers often work with rugs new and old depending on the space and the desired outcome. Right now the overall trends for many include allover design or medallion with covered field as opposed to medallion and open field. In new rugs, light colors bode well less gold tones of yesterday. Soft tones of blue, silver, beige, charcoal, and pastels are favorable. Some pops of rich and saturated colors are also coming through in new decorative rugs. Original principles of design are relatively consistent – good contrast or good tone-on-tone. On the old side of rugs, semi-antique carpets are being distressed (intentionally worn) and washed to give the added appearance of authentic age of an antique. In many ways the threadbare appearance of a favored pair of broken-in jeans is similarly applied to floor coverings.
What else you should know?
Rugs by construction are essentially a fabric, and largely a part of the history of textiles. This connection is a fundamental side of understanding the depth and history cultures have in association with rugs/carpets and the weaving of. There are thousands upon thousands of rug weaving areas over time and across the world. In all types, there are collectors for nearly every one, and some collectors for many.
Today, there are segments of the rug market that are extremely depreciated and particularly undervalued in our opinion. It is entirely conceivable to acquire an antique rug (100 years + of age) from a reputable dealer that may reasonably have sold 15 years ago for $15,000 - 20,000 to have a selling price of $5,000 - $10,000 all else equal. This disparity in pricing is not to be confused with unrealistic inflationary games less reputable or itinerant vendors often use to pump perceived values. The difference in pricing may literally be some sellers willing to take a loss on their investment to continue business cycles. The rug market is a fluctuating platform based on realized and established prices which currently is experiencing a relatively unusual and unique dichotomy in the past few years: Affordable pricing for newcomers to the antique and semi-antique market with availability of reasonable merchandise due to an overall suppressed market and willingness to sell. Solid values can be had in reputable retail brick and mortar settings for rugs old and new. To further illustrate the potential in 19th century rugs is to look at recent years sales of pre-19th century carpets. The highest price paid for a rug has been shattered several times in the past six years alone with perhaps several dozen carpets selling in the $300,000+ range, and the most recent world record reflecting ~$33 million for the Corcoran Gallery rug. While carpets of this caliber represent weaving from coveted periods in history and provenance, one key factor remains: there is no more creation of antique rugs. The amount of rugs made 100, 120, 150 years ago was limited. What rugs remain today from this period will only continue to diminish over time.