2018 Year End Overview
Impassioned Clientele, Exceptional Rugs and Seamless Technology Create
Great Vibrancy in High-End Antique Rug Market
As I reflect on how fulfilling our clients’ requests kept us running at full bore in 2018, I can definitively state that the high-end of the antique Oriental Rug Market is as vibrant as ever! Last year, we saw a collective desire among both long-established clients and first-time buyers to find exquisite, highly artistic carpets for their homes. Connoisseurs came wanting the best there is, and often ventured spontaneously into new styles from what they bought previously.
CLIENTS GAIN EXPOSURE TO ANTIQUE ART RUGS AND EASY PROCUREMENT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Because of our marshalling of website technology, social media and today’s transportation systems, our worldwide clientele pursued our extremely hard-to-find antique art rugs even more easily. The internet played a role in transactions with a record 75% of our clients.
Recognizing that more than ever our clients have small windows of time to devote, we redoubled our commitment to respond at lightning speed. Quickly emailed rug images and overnighted color-corrected photos played a major role.
Our dramatically increased use of photo-shopping rugs into clients’ room shots allowed them to envision the impact of various rugs and entire suites of carpets throughout their homes.
Last year, we took part in 32 Whole Home Rug Displays. These included a 24-piece rare rug purchase by a new Atlantic Coast client whom we have yet to meet; a three-home project here on the West Coast where we visited the sites four times; a 20-piece display on Cape Cod that included a complex suite of runners and small rugs for three connecting hallways, and a project furnishing a massive estate in Italy.
ONCE AGAIN, CLIENTS OVERWHELMINGLY CHOSE BAKSHAISH AS THE LEADING STYLE AMONG LARGER CARPETS
By even a wider margin, rare geometric 19th century Bakshaishs were favored, as more and more clients selected amazing examples from our London Vault Collection, our print catalogs and private offerings when great examples arose. So intense was this attraction that among room-sizes and oversizes, twice as many Bakshaish sold as Ferahan Sarouk, our #2 seller that moved from the #5 position. As well as acquiring early pieces for collectors, our much-expanded buying network successfully procured a goodly number of extremely beautiful circa 1875 to late 19th century Bakshaishs for those who simply love living with this enigmatic, folkloric style.
OTHER TOP SELLERS AND RISING STARS
As many clients commented that this section of my 2017 letter was especially beneficial, I am expanding it this year. The number of antique Serapis—a perennial favorite—we placed increased a staggering 196%! As I predicted, Hadji Jallili Tabrizs with their earthen hues and complex floral motifs are becoming a room-size carpet of choice for contemporary decors, rising from 6th place to 3rd place among the larger rugs our clients bought.
Because Caucasian rugs are small and incredibly diverse in composition, they attract both collectors and homeowners who often display them throughout their residences, including as wall art. These tribal rugs saw almost 450% more sales than any other area-size style (3×4 to 5×8) in 2018, clearly reflecting a global legion of admirers. Extremely seldom-found Persian Bakshaishs and astonishingly finely knotted Motasham Kashans were #2 and #3 among area-sizes. As I also anticipated in my 2017 letter, South Persian Qashqai tribal rugs outsold the previous year by 125%.
Botanically patterned Laver Kirmans, the carpet most often used in the grand homes of the Eastern Seaboard in the early 1900s, should continue their strong comeback in 2018, particularly among clients who find that they add warmth and individual character to their contemporary homes. Also look for rarely seen 19th century Tehrans, especially those that incorporate realistic garden, animal and bird motifs, to enter the inner circle of rugs sought after by connoisseurs and investors.
“POST-CONTEMPORARY” INTERIOR DESIGN
“Post-contemporary” is a term I’ve coined based on many projects with savvy clients and my observations researching magazines likes Luxe, A.D., Elle Décor and Milieu. By the last half of 2018, all featured at least one home with Oriental carpets on the floors in every issue, including on their covers.
A large uptick of clients who are updating their residences or building contemporary homes are energized by the creative invitation presented by this change in decorating. They are adding our rugs to define spaces and create an individual character to their open floor plans. We are currently involved in six larger projects in Silicon Valley and San Francisco furnishing contemporary homes.
As many clients have asked for my insight regarding this transformation, I recently contributed an article to Private Air/ Luxury Home magazine, where I shared my experience working with modern architecture that started with furnishing a rug lover’s 12,000 square foot, cutting edge glass and steel compound in Medina, WA in the late 1990s. In it, I wrote, “Modern architecture with its open floor plans, voluminous spaces and use of exotic woods, stone and metallic materials can combine perfectly with the age-old naturalistic patterns and time-softened, vegetally dyed palettes of antique Oriental rug. They become an artistic and emotional bridge between the contemporary and the traditional, each enhancing the other.”
OUR ADHERENCE TO “CLIENT FIRST” SERVICE
Because elite customer service has always been our hallmark and swift, personalized response is more important than ever, we were gratified that Forrester, Inc., one of the world’s most influential research and advisory firms, recently interviewed me on the topic. Luxury Daily published my article, “Building Lasting Relationships With Clients” last year as well.
Important services that we expanded greatly last year included allowing collectors to house the rugs they acquired beyond what they could display in our art storage unit. We enlarged our restoration department, both to accommodate the needs of our continual new acquisitions and to service carpets our clients acquired through us from 20 to 40 years ago.
CLIENTS ACQUIRED ELITE ANTIQUE RUGS FOR ENJOYMENT & AS PRECIOUS TANGIBLE ASSETS
Rare rugs have definitely caught the eye of the highest echelon of society. Last year, we worked with a record number of clients who, motivated by their passion for this artform and their recognition that they are investing strategically in a vital sector of the precious tangible asset class, are building substantial collections of High-Collectible and Connoisseur-Caliber rugs as defined by our “Oriental Rug Market Pyramid™.”
As a result, the 140-piece “London Vault of Antique Carpets,” our invitational private collection sale presenting perhaps our most wide-ranging, mind-boggling selection ever, attracted ardent clients from a total of five continents.
Be sure to view “50 Best Of Their Type Rugs Sold in 2018”, our annual online carpet retrospective, that includes many pieces from this illustrious trove. Experience this event in a special gallery on claremontrug.com starting Friday, January 11.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2019
A great number of our online visitors view not only the 1000-rug sampling in our website gallery, but read the plethora of articles we have written. In 2018, we produced five high-quality educational videos replete with useful information and plan to have a great number more online this year, addressing many of the central topics for our clients.
I expect Connoisseur-Caliber and High-Collectible rugs to escalate as a central emphasis of clients in 2019. To fulfill the “impossible task” of unearthing such remarkable pieces, we are already tracking a number of collections with deeply artistic examples that we hope will become available to us.
In reflecting on our 39-year history, I cannot overstate what a remarkable journey it has been. The fact that both I and my wife, Christine enjoy our jobs more than ever is a testament to the tremendous response of our clients, the unflagging dedication of our staff and the great passion to share the fascinating story of this unique, increasingly valued artform. Our sincere thanks to you for being part of the Claremont family.
Best wishes for an enriching New Year,