TAI PING, MAGIC CARPETS AND RUGS…
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TAI PING, MAGIC CARPETS AND RUGS…
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Tai Ping, a Hong Kong-based specialist in luxury hand-tufted rugs, till now has remained the preserve of an elite coterie of clients, institutions and palaces, including Buckingham Palace, the White House, and the Royal Palace of Jordan.

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Portrait of Catherine Vergez
Vincent Thibert
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courtesy of Galerie KDR
 

When designer Marc Newson was commissioned by the Emir of the State of Qatar to design a carpet for his private airport terminal, as the first point of reference for presidents, kings and VIPs visiting the state, he contacted Tai Ping.
Tai Ping carpets line the walkways of a number of the world’s most exclusive hotels, including – in Paris alone – Hôtel Le Meurice, the Mandarin Oriental, the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, and the soon-to-be-opened Peninsula Hotel, while Charlotte Rampling figures among an array of well-known personalities who get to tread barefoot on the company’s one-of-a-kind luxury rugs in their homes.

The house’s designer collaborations include a twist on the classic 18th century Savonnerie style – which traditionally features a border, ornaments in each corner and a medallion in the centre – designed by Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier. “They completely distressed it to make it look like a rug from an old castle, it was a great success, and so influential in the design world,” said Catherine Vergez, Managing Director Tai Ping EMEA, who highlighted among other iconic hook-ups a recent line of rugs designed by Hong Kong-based interior designer André Fu. The designs somehow magically captured the urban architecture of Hong Kong infused with the spirit of Chinese culture while weaving in international fashion codes, notably European textile references like Chanel tweed or specific fabrics from Prada. “They are amazing, you look at them and in the stripes you can see the towers in Hong Kong and the bamboo scaffolding around the constructions,” said Vergez. Like couture creations for the home, Tai Ping rugs are works of art.
The company, which recently opened a sprawling flagship on the Left Bank in Paris, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. The firm was founded in 1956 by Lord Lawrence Kadoorie, along with six fellow British entrepreneurs, as an initiative for assisting Chinese refugees flocking to Hong Kong after the Chinese Revolution, in need of work. He came up with the idea of preserving the Chinese arts of tapestry and rug-making, based on ancestral hand-knotting techniques, at the time rejected as bourgeois arts that had to be eradicated by the communist government. When a few years later the firm’s female carpet weavers started looking to more modern employments in air-conditioned offices, Kadoorie had to act fast to find a solution. He sought the help of a young Chinese textile engineer, Anthony Yeh, who invented a mechanical tufting gun, designed to speed up the production process while retaining the same artisanal integrity.

 

A prestigious reference within the international design community, the brand, which till now has focused on B2B partnerships, and confidential showroom presentations, has yet to become a household name. But it’s in the cards.

Marking a new chapter in its history, the company this autumn will move into the public sphere with a debut collection of exquisite ready-made rugs, marking its first push into retail — through an online presence, as a new Esensual Living exclusive.

Vergez, who is keen to extend the company’s offer to a broader public by introducing more affordable – yet ever top-notch – lines, interviewed a number of potential candidates before choosing her partner. “We felt like we would be very comfortable to be hosted by Esensual Living as our first retail experience, like when you pick a hotel. Theirs is a lifestyle environment that is close to our world. The product selection is carefully curated, which is what we like.”

When it comes to shopping for rugs, which for many is the last step when decorating a home, there are two camps, according to Vergez. There’s the decorative approach, where the rug complements colour and design elements of a room’s key features, and the emotional approach, where the client is spontaneously drawn to a statement piece, like buying a piece of art.

But the rules aren’t fixed. When the Esensual Living team hit Tai Ping’s glorious Paris HQ they ended up zeroing in on stunning circular designs from the company’s outdoor range to use as bathroom rugs. “They were designed with terraces or pools in mind, but we hadn’t thought of bathrooms,” marvelled Vergez of the distinctive designs made from waterproof and UV-proof synthetic Italian materials typically used to make ropes for the sailing industry. Plopping a striking rug in one’s bathroom is certainly a way of making a statement, as one of the home’s less personalized spaces.

Be careful though, the hobby can get addictive. Add a rug to a room, and suddenly other areas look naked without one. “It’s a piece that gathers all the other pieces of the house,” says Vergez, for whom a rug is as indispensable an element of home décor as a sofa. “If the floor is not well done, it’s like everything else disappears into a vortex,” she concludes. “We call it the fifth wall.”

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Rugs Details
Courtesy of Tai Ping
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Box table
Courtesy of CFOC
 

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