Cutting a rug
ENGINEER EVA MAK was thinking outside the square when she wanted a rug for her Hunghom flat. Yet despite a plethora of rug suppliers in Hong Kong her search proved fruitless because she 'just couldn't find a circle'.
Nor were there any shops that stocked the candy colours to match Mak's 'pop art, space-age' decor. Turning to local company Customade Carpets in Kwun Tong (tel: 2763 9189) for help, Mak commissioned a tailor-made rug in her choice of colours and shape - which was surprisingly affordable. 'I'd heard from my interior designer that I could expect to pay $3,000 to $4,000, so when Customade said it could do it for $2,000, I had them make it.' Customade's rugs are 100 per cent New Zealand wool tufted to the cutomer's requirements.
The resultant circular carpet in swirls of hot and pale pink, blue and green is the focal point of her living room and a talking point among guests. 'My friends really like my carpet and feel it was quite reasonable,' she says.
Sarah Chessis, a sales trainer, also scoured Hong Kong for a bright orange and white rug to cap off her Happy Valley home. 'I wanted it as a feature because everything else is quite bland and plain,' she says. 'I looked everywhere, but couldn't find anything modern and contemporary.' Chessis went to Tai Ping Carpets in Causeway Bay (tel: 2848 7668; www.taipingcarpets.com), who designed and made just what she wanted. At $8,000 the rug 'wasn't cheap, but I love it. Besides, I can always change the rug. It's cheaper than changing the furniture.'
Designer Ed Ng, of AB Concept and its furniture offshoot Ovo which sells custom-made wool carpets (tel: 2526 7226), says an area rug serves an important purpose. 'It provides a background while at the same time defining space and tying up the colour scheme,' he says. 'A custom-designed area rug is like creating a painting - you can follow the proportion of the accent colours to bring them all together.'
Stephen Lam, export manager for Customade Carpets, says the United States is the company's major market, but reports growing demand among residential customers in Hong Kong. He attributes this to the flexibility and affordability of the custom-made product. 'A beautiful rug can enhance the decoration of any home, and everybody wants a rug that's different from the others, and whatever they want, we can make it.' Customade has a designer on staff so that customers can come in with an idea and watch it develop. A computer image lets them approve or alter the design. Lam says Customade's projects have included a palace for a sheik in Dubai. Prices range from $60 to $200 per square foot.
Kent MC Yeh, managing director of Tai Ping Group, says custom design allows the customer to buy exactly what they need. 'This is especially so in Hong Kong, where small or odd-shaped homes may not always accommodate a standard-sized rug. When space is at a premium you cannot move the furniture around to suit a rug, but custom design allows this flexibility.'
Being able to order a carpet to match also allows scope for furnishings. 'Every colour is custom-dyed,' Yeh says. 'If customers bring us a swatch of material, we will match it exactly so this gives total freedom of design. This also applies to design elements, so if there is a floral pattern in the drapes, we can match it on the floor.'
Choosing a rug should be the final element of a decorating project, he says. 'We come in at the tail end, pulling together all the elements of the colour scheme, sofa and drapes into the carpet, so that it looks like everything co-ordinates exactly.'
He says that while wooden floors are currently an international trend, some people 'miss the last piece in interior design by not putting a rug on their floor. Hong Kong interiors are predominantly white or beige which can look sterile, so a bright colour in a rug can tie it all together.' He adds: 'We also make a lot of children's rugs where parents get their kids to do a painting or sketch, sign it, and we make an exact copy. This makes their creation very personal.'
The scope is as wide as a customer's imagination - even to the extent of preserving history. 'We made a rug for [golfer] Tiger Woods that was his first score card when he was six years old, and depicted the Hong Kong skyline on a rug as the [Hong Kong Government's] official gift to Macau on its handover. Something like that is a piece of history that can be interpreted on a rug in a unique way.'