Erased Heritage is a contemporary rug collection antidotal to the malady of cultural amnesia. Founded by German carpet designer Jan Kath, this eponymous company based in Bochum, has mastered the art of looking simultaneously backward and forward in time. One of his most critically acclaimed carpet collections, Erased Heritage pays homage to the art of traditional oriental carpet weaving, by finding inspiration from old patterns, techniques and compositions.
Every community, region, and cultural group in the east has developed a peculiar style of carpet. Over the centuries, different areas have developed different signature features and styles. Kath’s embrace of blemishes, as beautiful things is emphatic. He scratches, scours, or cracks time-honored motifs, erases or overprints them, and even scribbles with them as if the pattern were flowing like ink. These carpets feature visual effects such as aerial webbing, stomped texture, chaotic strokes, scribbled scratches, vendetta fade, checkered raves, wrapping stamps, hand tufted graffiti, bleeding colors, fungal infest and so on.
Jan Kath also turns to old master weavers to bring these designs back to life. Knot by knot, they hand produce precious Egyptian Mamluks, Iranian Bidjars and Serapis, Azerbaijani Tabriz and Turkish Konyas using the original color palettes and procedures. With this series the designer explores the meaning and legacy of our cultural roots. There are between 100 and 450 hand tied knots in every 6.45 square centimeters (one square inch). The main material used in the collections made in Asia is wool from the Tibetan highlands, one of the highest quality and most robust of all materials. The silk comes from China and the dyes from Switzerland (ecologically tested).
What’s more interesting is the revived method, which Jan Kath applies to the craft of carpet weaving. While most carpet weavers read the pattern from a drawing, directions for pieces in the erased heritage collection are recited aloud. The loom master, head of the carpet weavers, reads out commands, translates them into a kind of chant and sings the next steps to those tying the knots in a sonorous voice. This results in carpets with revolutionary looks, with extracts of older essence blended into the contemporary minimalism.
Kath, 42, has inked his right arm with a tattoo that reads “Make Rugs, Not War”. Though Kath describes himself as “super conservative” technically, he is just as progressive creatively. Kath compares this collaboration to composing a piece of electronic music: you are always adding something new or leaving some parts out.
These carpets consciously breach the conventional notion whereby rugs are seen as ornamental showpieces by being art canvases, which connote contemporary culture. If you’re looking for state of the art rugs, which are cool, but keep your feet warm, have a look at Jan Kath collections.
Edited by Khushboo Vyas
Design by Jan Kath
Photographs by André M. Hünseler and Dimo Feldmann
Photos Courtesy of Jan Kath Studio