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Magic Carpets

The Rug Company and Sir Paul Smith celebrate 15 years of creative collaboration.

Designer Sir Paul Smith with the Split Bright rug ($129 per square foot) from his 15th Anniversary collection with The Rug Company

“What’s interesting is that if you actually look at the history of the last 30 years in fashion, interiors and graphic design, they all run parallel to each other,” says esteemed British designer Sir Paul Smith, who has proven that theory true with a stellar career that incorporates not only exceptional clothing, but also eye-catching and iconic home decor. Although Smith had been approached by many brands to design a rug collection, he wasn’t convinced to do so until he met Christopher Sharp, founder of U.K.-based The Rug Company, when Sharp was having a suit made at Smith’s Westbourne House store in London 15 years ago. “A couple of rug-makers approached me years ago from Denmark or Norway, and they did nice rugs, but I kept thinking: I have such a big job already,” says Smith. After their initial meeting, Smith visited The Rug Company showroom and was wowed by the brand’s beautiful offerings. “One day I popped in and realized that everything was hand-knotted, hand-dyed and handmade, and had the most beautiful soft finish,” he says. “So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to try.’”

From that point on, the two have worked closely together to create a series of standout collections, all of which express Smith’s hands-on classic-with-a-twist sensibility. The most recently introduced pieces—six rugs and a cushion—have evolved to offer a fresh look and feel. “The 15th Anniversary collection is a really exciting collision of geometry and color. The designs are modern with muted palettes and unregulated pattern composition while still retaining the spirit of [Smith’s] traditional designs,” says Sharp. “I’ve taken the design in a fresh direction,” adds Smith.

The idea behind one standout pattern, Split Light (at right), was originally conceived as a vinyl window display for one of Smith’s shops in the Far East. “I developed it by cutting out tissue paper and laying pieces on top of one another,” he says. “I suppose that when I’m doing the work, I suddenly think that it can work as a rug. So I keep the notes in a folder, and when Chris comes to see me, he tells me that I have too many ideas. I’m always being told off in a good way,” he continues.

Other styles have equally creative origins: paint drips, cardboard cutouts and more, all developed by the designer with input from Sharp, who anticipates many more exciting projects down the line. “He’s the champion of eclectic British fashion,” says Sharp. “We love working together and look forward to future collaborations.” From $123 per square foot, 8202 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.653.0303; The Rug Company at HEWN, San Francisco Design Center, 101 Henry Adams, Ste. 480, San Francisco, 415.962.7833

The Paint Stripe rug features various hues in an irregular linear pattern.

Sir Paul Smith offers insight into his newest designs.

Paint Stripe references midcentury-modern abstract art,” says Smith, who experimented with an oversaturated paint brush when concepting this design. “The rug represents a canvas with expressive drips of color creating a kind of broken stripe effect,” he says. $145 per square foot

Split Light was inspired by triangular glass prisms that break light up to create layers of angular transparent shapes,” says Smith. “The soft palette creates a soothing and calm pattern, while the desaturated palette of Split Bright injects a shot of understated color.” $129 per square foot

Arrows continues the geometric theme, using a neutral color palette and raised silk pile to soften the angular lines of the motif,” says Smith. “This is the first design where we’ve mixed the yarns to create a relief. The arrows are raised higher, which is luxurious.” $193 per square foot