Live from the Atlanta Rug show

Atlanta -- The biannual Atlanta International Area Rug market -- happening this week -- seems to have attracted a healthy turnout of buyers. The aisles are bustling; showrooms are busy , and suppliers are optimistic, showing a plethora of new product.

Here are some of the highlights today:

-- Couristan has reached its highest price bracket in power-loomed rugs: $659 for a 5'9-by-7'10 -- 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, 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 Rugs' new lowest price point in its high-endurance olefin construction is the new Festival collection. Priced at $149 for a 5'-by-8', the rugs in this grouping are all in contemporary designs and bright colors. They 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.


Capel also made news this market with the introduction of a new generation of braided rugs -- a construction the four-generation, 100-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.

-- Shaw Living is eager to be greener, so this 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 collection are made of Shaw's own EverTouch nylon. Once they are done with these rugs, consumers who buy them can later return them to Shaw for recycling. Shaw is still developing this program and is exploring more incentives for consumers, including the idea of offering them 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 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.


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.


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 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 given a new design perspective with 13 new patterns to its popular 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.

-- 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 for the program. Examples of this include: Valencia, a black-and-white transitional pattern; and Jakarta Batik in robin's egg.

-- Mohawk Home for the first time 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.

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