In 2016, we ambitiously retooled Claremont Rug Company for the 21st century. Our central goals included more fully harnessing the power of the Internet to reach new clients, satisfying the demand of collectors whose tastes continue to become more refined even as the supply of rare rugs diminishes, and responding to the growing attraction to contemporary home design.
INCREASING OUR SCOPE
It seems that every day clients are becoming more comfortable buying very fine items online. The number of new clients virtually doubled in 2016, with much of this new business coming from the Internet, including younger members of the tech and finance industries and even Millenials.
In mid-July, we reopened Claremont 2 in a stylish contemporary space adjacent to our main gallery. As well as attracting members of Silicon Valley firms that have spread into San Francisco and now the East Bay, Claremont 2’s greatly expanded selection of decorative-caliber, older Persian and tribal rugs is already creating a following across the country and abroad.
To date, turn-of-the-20th century Caucasian tribal rugs and room-size geometric Heriz carpets have been the favorites of our new clientele at Claremont 2, while subtle Tabriz and Laver Kirmans are often chosen to complement the exotic woods and counterbalance the strong lines of contemporary decors.
A robust interest in creating Whole Home Displays of antique rugs continues among clients at our Main Gallery as a way to personalize both contemporary and traditional decors. This year, we facilitated our clients’ wide-ranging passion for building suites of multiple rugs throughout the U.S. and abroad, including in vacation homes in some of the world’s most stunning locations.
As well as using fine rugs on the floor, more and more clients are exploring alternative display techniques. Hanging area-size rugs as wall art in conjunction with paintings is now broadly embraced, while the more adventurous are placing small pieces over banisters, on tabletops or draped over furniture.
RESPONDING TO A GROWING CLIENTELE
To maintain the first-cabin service and level of expertise that is the Claremont standard, we promoted three longtime staff members to become sales consultants and expanded our network of logistics partners to do installations around the country. We added staff to our Imaging Department to ensure that all of our rugs are even more accurately captured, allowing absentee clients to purchase them with complete confidence.
Our Shipping and Logistics capabilities have also grown. Ensuring seamless international deliveries became front and center this year, as we saw a notable increase in projects in other countries, both from our ongoing clients with homes abroad and new clients from Europe, South America, Africa and Australia.
TRENDS IN COLLECTING
2016 inspired a greatly amplified passion among the many “Home Collectors” and “Pure Collectors” we deal with. (To learn about this trend see my article, “The Many Faces of the Modern Collector” in Chubb’s Accent) Importantly, women significantly outpaced men among our most prolific collector-clients, either buying on their own or as the more perseverant partner of a couple. In their day, Alice de Rothschild and Doris Duke were among a handful of prominent female rug collectors, who were eclipsed by male collectors such as Vanderbilt, Hearst and Getty. We are pleased to see clearly that today the “woman’s stamp” on the arena of art carpets is escalating.
Stockpiling rare rugs for future homes, for seasonal rotation and as a precious tangible asset was a strategy that many more clients adopted in 2016.
Sales of Connoisseur-Caliber and High Collectible rugs expanded significantly, with the best 19th century Bakshaishs, Caucasians and Motasham Kashans being the most widely selected. In the High Decorative category, for the first time the top-selling style in room-size and oversize rugs was Laver Kirman, because this genre offers the subtlety that so beautifully complements contemporary design. Antique Serapis and Sultanabads maintained enthusiastic followings and were runners-ups to the Lavers.
“The Toronto Treasury”, our invitational event featuring over 125 rare rugs from Canadian mine owners who traveled the world to build their various art collections, was a resounding success. It was particularly gratifying to see how many of our clients immediately recognized the truly one-in-the-world pieces that it contained.
The acknowledgement that great antique rugs are vanishing is driving both ongoing clients and a burgeoning number of connoisseurs who bought from us for the first time last year. This confirms my belief more strongly than ever that the current generation of buyers will be the last to have access to the most exceptional rugs from the “Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving” (ca. 1800 to ca. 1910).
MEDIA INTEREST IN FINE ANTIQUE RUGS CONTINUES
A gratifying and fitting conclusion to our high-powered year was Robb Report magazine’s selection of a world-class, mid-19th century Laver Kirman from Claremont’s collection as one of the “31 Greatest Gifts of the Season” in their “2016 Ultimate Gift Guide.” Both “AXA Art” (read here) and “Private Air/Luxury Home” (read here) featured me in primers on buying antique rugs. Ever more frequently, clients are referencing my “Oriental Rug Market Pyramid” to explore their specific buying propensities through the six qualitative levels it presents. The Pyramid has been referenced in various articles, including Chubb Insurance’s “Collectors“ (read here).
OUTLOOK FOR 2017
I expect the New Year to grow quantitatively in intensity, as a new generation of clients experience the allure of surrounding themselves with the great beauty of our art-level antique rugs. In 2016, a dramatically increasing number of new clients discovered the magic that art-level Oriental rugs bring to their lives.
Our commitment to expanding our buying networks allows us to keep our Decorative and High-Decorative inventory as wide-ranging as ever. For collectors who desire outstanding pieces, we are looking 24/7 for incomparable rugs that will take your breath away.
We wish you a bountiful 2017 and invite you to visit our two gracious galleries located side-by-side in Oakland and to peruse our website, which presents 900+ rugs from our 4000-piece collection.
Jan David Winitz
President and founder
P.S.: Be sure to see the“50 Best-of-the-Best Rugs Sold in 2016” gallery on our website. This extraordinarily popular annual event opens Friday, January 13th and includes some of the rarest, most awe-inspiring rugs we’ve ever had the privilege to place.