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Line Extensions Aplenty in Atlanta

Cecile Corral, Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, July 30, 2007

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

That seemed to be the motto for the latest Atlanta International Area Rug market, which took place earlier this month.

Saving major new collection introductions for busier market seasons, many rug manufacturers and importers came to Atlanta's typically slower summer event banking on their best existing collections — extending them with more designs, patterns, and color schemes. In many cases, these were indoor/outdoor rugs.

Another prevalent effort this market: record price point levels. Many rug companies introduced collections that either represented their highest ever retail ticket or their lowest ever price tag.

Here are some highlights from a sampling of the major players.

Couristan pumps up power-loomed prices with Old World style

Couristan has reached its highest price bracket in power-loomed rugs — $659 for a 5-foot-9-inch-by-7-foot-10-inch— with the debut of the Old World Classics collection, a grouping inspired by four of the world's oldest rugs in recorded history. One piece, titled Pazyrk, featured below, is based on a 5 B.C. rug fragment found in a cave in central Asia. Rugs in the collection are made of 100% New Zealand semi-worsted wool pile and feature the company's own locked-in weave and crystal point finish.

In other news, Couristan recently appointed Donielle Arabia to the newly created post of assistant director, advertising and marketing. She reports to Larry Mahurter, director of advertising and marketing.

Capel's Braids updated with borders, new palettes, simpler styles

Capel Rugs made news at market with the introduction of a new generation of braided rugs — a construction the four-generation, 90-year-old company has been known for since its inception.

The new braided varieties include: the less variegated 100% cotton Medley collection, which the company has displayed for this market with a variety of kitchen towels, placemats and napkins pinned to the hanging rugs "to show their versatility with other patterns and fabrics," said Allen Robertson, vp sales.

Medley's companion collections are Solo, a 100% cotton solid-colored group made using the same palette as Medley; the addition of a second wool chenille braid, this one titled Cambridge; and a line called Monticello of border braids featuring solid-colored borders around a colored braided field.

In other news, Capel knocked its lowest price point down a notch for its high-endurance olefin construction to $149 for a 5-by-8. The new Festival collection, which carries this new more popular price tag, comprises contemporary designs and bright colors. The rugs in the grouping are priced at about one-third less than Capel's previously lowest priced rugs, which are cut-pile and loop-hook constructions in traditional patterns.

Shaw ready for rug recycling

Shaw Living is eager to be greener, so at market it has launched its recyclable Natural Expressions collection. Brand manager Kim Barta described it as "Shaw's answer to sisal."

The rugs in this line are made of Shaw's own EverTouch nylon, a reusable product. Once consumers are done with their rugs, they can return them to Shaw for recycling.

Barta said Shaw is still developing this program and is exploring more incentives for consumers, including the idea of offering coupons toward the purchase of a new Shaw rug once old ones are submitted for recycling.

Also news is the addition of four new designs to the Kathy Ireland Jardin Du Jour collection of soft olefin rugs. There are three new designs, each in two colorways.

Milliken takes StainMaster across the board, scores touchdown with NFL

Milliken Rugs has ramped up its StainMaster branded offerings to now include all of its 16,000 indoor rugs — up from just the 2,000 in the Pastiche collection earlier this year. The idea is to offer more added value to its products, explained Rob Beistline, market manager.

In other news, the company also added the National Football League to its license roster. Milliken already has the license for area rugs for 200 college and university athletic teams. The new NFL rugs come in three designs — Pattern Repeat, a repeat of a professional team logo; Home Field, featuring a team's logo in the center of the football field scene; and Spirit, a larger iconic image of the team logo.

Also, Milliken created a new lowest price point for its carved rug category. The $129 retail price is for a 6-by-9 nylon, which also carries the StainMaster brand.

Sphinx' Bentley drives up price points

Sphinx by Oriental Weavers is moving up with the introduction of its Bentley collection, a grouping of hand-tufted in India wool yarn rugs that are set to retail for the company's highest price point yet in this style: $799.

Sphinx has also crafted a new design perspective with 13 new patterns for its Ariana collection of synthetic machine-made rugs. The new designs stay true to the six-year-old Ariana collection's traditional direction, but interpret them in larger scale motifs on less cluttered fields.

Also, the Warhol collection, originally launched in 2004 as Sphinx's first ever licensed program, has been expanded with two new collections — Pure, a black-and-white polypropylene machine-made grouping; and Revolution, a hand-made wool assortment of soft contemporary shaded looks.

Karastan expands Sierra Mar with new palette, looks

Karastan has doubled its only six-month-old Sierra Mar collection of New Zealand wool Wilton-woven rugs with the addition of six new patterns, most of which portray a new palette direction for this popular collection. Examples of this include: Valencia, a black-and-white transitional pattern; and Jakarta Batik in robin's egg.

Mohawk Select pairs dec pillows, throws with rugs

For the first time, Mohawk Home presented its new accessory package approach for the Mohawk Select business segment — which caters to furniture and rug stores, specialty shops and direct channel retailers. This effort coordinates rugs with decorative pillows and throws and possibly even fabric-framed wall art, all intended to give these retailers a cohesive decorative package for consumers to more easily decorate their homes.

Orian enjoys day in sun with Patio, adds new looks

Orian Rugs teased buyers with expanded offerings of indoor/outdoor rugs, hinting of a new such collection set to debut in New York next month.

The latest designs were additions to the existing Patio collection. The new 30 looks included more blue, red nand green hues to coordinate better with patio furniture, explained Barry Kelley, vp, marketing and merchandising.

Next month, the new indoor/outdoor collection will represent a new construction for Orian.

Kalaty and crumpets: Upscale rug company launches regal-minded rug collection

Kalaty launched a collection with Paul Burrell, former butler to the late Lady Diana, by hosting a formal tea party fit for The Queen — featuring fine china, thinly sliced lemon wedges, sugar cubes and an assortment of dainty crumpets on a silver platter.

Burrell signed copies of his book, "A Royal Duty," and promoted his new area rug collection made by Kalaty to buyers.

Burrell told HTT he decided to get into home decor as part of his "reinvention," and based some of the designs on his childhood and personal experiences and the other part on his career experience working for England's royal family. "It was like going to the university of life," he said.

Once he "learned to utilize" that knowledge, Burrell continued, "I wanted to walk on my own two feet.

He cited his inspiration for two specific rug designs. The traditionally-styled leafy Sherwood pattern, he said, draws from Sherwood Forest, the setting for Robin Hood and also the place where Burrell played as a boy. He named Bess, a formal Elizabethan- styled damask in rusty red, after the English socialite who restored England's Hardwick Hall, where Burrell often visited during his career working for the English royals.

"My inspiration is of course influenced by my past," Burrell said." And my past just happens to include palaces and castles. I've been very lucky."

Indeed.

Balta cooking in the kitchen with Curio rugs

Balta U.S. is bringing the outdoors inside with the Curio collection. The 14 Curio rugs are inspired by vintage table linens and kitchen towels of the 1950s and are made to work in kitchen dining nooks and more formal dining areas, as well as other common areas of the home.

Mark Ford, director of product development, said the 100% polypropylene rugs with printed patterns work well indoors for easy cleaning. They come in five sizes, including an 8-foot round. A 5-by-8 is set to retail for $99.

Brumlow shows its luster with Transitions

Brumlow Home's Transitions collection brought the luster back to the market. "It's a unique multi-level dye construction, made of nylon, that gives off not a shine but a vibrancy that the market is ready for now," said Patrick Moyer, president. "Luster is making a comeback."

Transition rugs comprise almost 40 patterns in both subtle and bright colorways. The designs are tonal and include simple transitional and contemporary looks.

Kas walks onto the "Veranda" with outdoor hand-hooked rugs

Kas Rugs finally joined the indoor/outdoor bandwagon with the Veranda collection of polyacrylic hand-hooked rugs from China. The collection comprises 19 rugs in a variety of nature-inspired and transitional looks. They are set at $299 for a 5-by-8.

The company also re-introduced after a long absence its flat-woven Soumak style. The latest sampling features a trendy color palette, including chocolate browns and slate blues. Titled Cypress, this collection is made in India of 100% hand-twisted wool blends. A 5-by-8 is set to retail for $699.

Delos customizes hand-tufted line with Made-to-Order program

Delos Rugs has created a made-to-order program to give its furniture, home accessory and direct retail customers the ability to fashion rugs to suit a shopper's specific decorating needs. The program employs 130 patterns, 170 colors, eight sizes and six shapes in the hand-tufted line.

Ivan Phillips, owner of the company, said each order is ready in 10 weeks. A 5-by-8 made-to-order rug is set to retail for $1,000.

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