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Jan Kath

16th Oct 2016

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You can be cool and still keep your feet warm! With his modern designs, Jan Kath is pioneering a completely new perspective on carpets. Guided by a bold approach in his work, Kath, originally from Bochum, Germany, combines classical elements of oriental carpets with contemporary, minimalist design.

He consciously breaks with tradition and throws strict rules of composition out of the window. While an entire generation once rolled up their grandmothers’ Persian rugs and exiled them from the living room, Kath’s mission is all about ‘giving them the floor’ again.

“Nobody feels really comfortable in clinically styled apartments with highly polished concrete floors,” Kath explains. “Our carpets are an organic dotting of the ‘i’, islands of wellbeing with a healing effect in cool interiors – without destroying the overall style.”

With his interpretation of the modern carpet, Kath has developed an unmistakable signature style and is one of the most important carpet designers on the international stage today. His concepts have earned numerous accolades, including the Red Dot Award and Carpet Design Award. More and more of his work is now appearing in museums that showcase art and design such as the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Art, the Beijing International Design Triennial, Art Museum Riga Bourse and the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.

The matrix for his innovative designs is formed by a relationship to carpets with deep emotional roots. When he was just a young boy, he and his father, Martin Kath, used to visit manufacturers in Iran and Nepal. These experiences trained his eye and awakened a fundamental understanding of colour combinations and proportions. Later, Kath took control of the manufacturing process and began to produce his own designs. Inspired by numerous trips through vibrant world cities such as Paris, Istanbul, New York, Tokyo, Beirut, Sydney, and, last but not least, his home – the Ruhr District, with its archaic industrial culture – he quickly developed an individual signature. Although the allure created by imperfection, erosion, and transformation plays a central role in his designs, Kath is uncompromisingly conservative where quality is concerned.

This is particularly apparent in the case of his Erased Heritage range which pays homage to the traditional oriental carpet. Finding inspiration from old patterns, techniques, and standards of quality, Jan Kath also turns to old master weavers to bring these designs back to life. Knot by knot, they hand produce Egyptian mamluks, Iranian bidjars, and Turkish konyas using the original colours.

However, the simple reproduction of old ideas is not the Jan Kath philosophy. The inclusion of the word 'erased' in the collection name is a clear indication that Kath incorporates his trademark alienation effects in these creations. A specially developed antique finishing technique makes it look as if new rugs have already been lying on the parlour floor of a manor house for years on end.

“Just like every Bavarian village has its own traditional dress, every community, region, and cultural group in the East has developed a particular style of carpet. It’s fascinating how, over the centuries, different areas have developed such different signature features and styles,” says Kath. “With the Erased Heritage collection, we are helping to make sure that these ideas survive into the modern age.”

Jan Kath has recently finished showing his exhibition in New York – BORO: The Art of Repurpose.

Jan Kath;