Friday, April 2, 2010


When I was a lad, spending more time than I ought designing imaginary rooms, my idea of perfection involved white walls, modern furniture, big works of art, and a spectacular Persian carpet. How things change. Now, while I still love the ancient Asian rug tradition, I’m a sucker for splashy modern weavings to cushion my tread.

It is my notion, hardly original, that most good modern paintings would also make great rugs. Take a Mondrian, for example. Any Mondrian. Why, here's one now!

Or a festive Alexander Calder.

I grant you, designing around such a powerful carpet would be challenging, but, hey, that’s half the fun.

One of my favorite sources of color inspiration, the late great Richard Diebenkorn, would also be my go-to guy for carpets, especially his “Ocean Park” series, which he painted while living in Santa Monica. Take this one in mostly blue—how great would it be to build a room around this?

Of course, you can choose a more muted Diebenkorn, too, like this one.

And, since it’s a fantasy anyway (unless you are a very lucky designer or homeowner, indeed), you can always change the colors. After all, it’s an homage, not a Xerox copy.

Just as I have never met a Mark Rothko painting I did not like (well, love, actually), so too have I never met a Mark Rothko that I didn’t think would make a great rug—for example:

Of course, putting a painting on the floor doesn’t have to be literal. Calvin Klein Home Collection ( has a line of carpets called "Luster Wash." They do not reproduce Rothke paintings, but they are very similar in feeling (and far less expensive than translating canvas into pile as a one-off).

This Richard Pettibone would make a great carpet. Since it reminds me of pinstripes, I picture a lot of men’s suiting fabrics in this imaginary room: gray flannel, camel cashmere, that sort of thing. Maybe some silk throw pillows in bright colors as "ties."

I was thinking that this Jackson Pollock would make a great rug (Pollock's paintings were, after all, done on the floor):

Then I came across this little number from Stephanie Odegard ( It’s by artist Michael Somoroff and is called the Somoroff II.

I’m fond of this Brice Marden work, too, and thought it would be as great underfoot as it would be on the wall:

Further Googling revealed designer Kelly Wearstler’s carpet for The Rug Company (, which has a whole line by well known designers, including fashionistas like Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.

Here’s another stunner from The Rug Company. 

It’s by Tom Dixon, and it’s just crying out for a pair of Mr. Dixon’s practically perfect wing chairs. I see an extremely sleek modern fireplace… and floor-to-ceiling silk drapes in a deep bottle green. But I digress.

Just to prove I am not alone in my obsession with laying all of MoMA’s painting collection on the ground, here’s a shot from a 2006 show house by Messrs. William Diamond and Anthony Baratta (aka Bill and Tony), who like to design the carpets for all their projects (

They couldn’t have found a better inspiration for the blue-on-blue carpet here than the signature work of Mr. Frank Stella.

And one final image… just because. I don’t approve of leftover mammalian parts as decorative objects, but this is pretty fabulous as a photograph from an altogether different rug tradition! It looks like art to me.—ML

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, you're right. These paintings would be great carpet or rug designs. I always wanted things around me to be unique and artistically done. My best friend painted my wall and called it the "Garden of Friendship". And now I have to give back the favor by designing his new flat's interior. I am planning to have a customized carpet for him with the design of the first painting he has ever made. I know it will soon be filled with paint drops, so it would be best if carpet cleaning (LA) would be done often. I understand that someday my work of art (his flat's interior design) would be covered by his paints, but it is okay, it's his pad anyway and it should be more of him and not of me. All I want is that he'd keep the place clean and do a lot LA carpet cleaning.