To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, TSAR co-founder Kerrie Sharpley reflects on her journey as a textiles artist, business partner and most importantly a mother.

Tell us your story. What path lead you to textiles and then to start your business?

Everyone had a hobby when I was growing up – knitting, cake decorating, wood work, china painting. It was the women mentors in my life that were the greatest influence.   Being shown the art of doiley embroidery at the age of 7 was the beginning of a long love affair with stitching and textiles.

I became a textiles teacher after studying the subject at university, then took a solo one-year backpacking trip through Asia. Indigenous textiles dictated my travel destinations – I worked with Batik Artists in Indonesia, embroidered with tribes in the Golden Triangle, wove on a backstrap loom with women in the Philippines, knotted rugs in Nepal, block printed and made felt in India and wove string bags in Papua New Guinea. The traditional textile creators were almost exclusively women. They were generous, fun-loving and caring.

Kerrie visiting textiles heaven – the Golden Triangle Hill Tribes, Chiang Mai in 1984.

My obsession with textiles took me in all sorts of directions – working as an artist-in-residence at schools and hospitals, exhibiting original works, designing costumes, teaching millinery and tailoring and dress-making for brides, before meeting David in 1987. This was when I began my 30-year career in custom designed and made rugs and carpets, drawing and colouring my designs by hand whilst David made the rugs himself – a very different time.

TSAR royalty – Kerrie and David Sharpley

We moved to Granada, Spain when my first son was two to set up and train in hand tufting in an 80 year old rug making business. I was extremely fortunate to work with Antonio Molyon, a designer of classical style hand-knotted rugs with 44 years of experience.  When we returned to Australia I found that I was one of a few who knew how to design European classical style rugs.  It was a bonanza.

Kerrie pioneering European classical style designs in Australia.
Kerrie as design lead for the Palazzo Versace Hotel Project in QLD – still there today.

TSAR expanded beyond Australian shores in 2014, a resurgence of the business that took us on another great adventure. We took our family to live in New York for two years simply because we could! Life in New York is an endless opportunity and an Aladdin’s cave for the creative spirit.

The NYC showroom opening in 2014.

What’s been your favourite aspect about TSAR and being part of the textiles industry?

I have always loved the next challenge.  It has not always been directly related to design or textiles but it has led to my ever-expanding skillset and developing interests in data, analytics and business management. I love finding ways to streamline work practises, to make the workplace a more productive but less stressful place to be.  We all spend a great proportion of our lives in a workplace, so my goal is to make it an enjoyable place to excel (literally, I love an excel sheet).

You’ve been in the industry for many years, do you think being a woman and a mother has impacted your career?

I’ve had the privilege of being able to tailor my work-life to fit around raising three wonderful children.  David and I decided early on that my responsibilities in the business would match my need to be a mother first and foremost. I was very lucky. I didn’t ever feel that gnawing guilt and frustration that many women who lack flexibility in their workplace experience. Whichever way a woman chooses – to work full-time, be a full-time mother, strike a balance between both or not have children, she will be faced with the challenges of people’s opinions, societal norms and pressures as well as staying true to themselves.

Kerrie and her son Aliahn colouring designs together.

How have you seen the role of women in the industry evolve over your career? What are the shifts you’ve noticed?

It seems to me that in the last 50 years there has been a total flip. There’s a much more sophisticated understanding of a woman’s many roles in life and the choices we make. There is more compassion, support and the path in business, motherhood, whatever it may be has less obstacles. A lot of very lucky women today have the choice to design their own lives – but of course, there is still a long way to go. Unsupported interrupted careers, glass ceilings, unequal pay are a blight in a woman’s life pursuit.

Beyond the workplace, I think we are seeing profound shifts in the paradigm of women’s rights. Women today are more united than ever! The result of truly unfortunate and deeply disturbing events in politics and the entertainment industry has led to the next uprise – we’re smashing and questioning the behaviours of the powerful, the rich and the system as a whole, this time with different tools that reach world wide. Women are coming together to support each other more than ever – it’s an exciting time.

Kerrie and the TSAR women from the Melbourne HQ.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt in your career?

If you can – love your work, always set a challenge, acknowledge your successes and don’t be afraid of not being perfect or the best.

You don’t have to go to war to speak out.

What are some of your rituals that keep you grounded, motivated, focused and continuously creative?

I have always had a studio or a corner at home. It’s the reverie of time in the creative zone that is addictive and clears the way to make the most of life. I weave creativity into our lives at all levels.

Apart from that, I think I was born creative so can’t help it.

Kerrie’s button and patterned fabric collection in her studio.

Who and what inspired/influenced you to be the creative you are today? Who do you admire?

Colour. My earliest memory was being mesmerised by the sun illuminating scarlet roses outside our kitchen window.  I was very young.  Then there were the flowers that my aunt grew. She taught me about gardening, a passion I still have.  Then there were the parrots my father kept, I collected the feathers for their brilliant colours.

Kerrie’s obsession with bold colours wherever she goes – in her studio and on the streets on NYC.

As for my biggest inspirations, I admire people who are able to be true to themselves – despite societal pressures, any imposed rules or consequences.  I meet these people every day, and they come from a myriad of backgrounds and professions. What truly inspires me is seeing a person following the beat of their own drum.

What’s next? Can you share some of your current projects/visions/goals?

I have just spent the summer revisiting a technique that I learned over 35 years ago.  Stay tuned on that one, I will be unveiling a very exciting project in the near future.

I also love hanging around young people, they are so inspiring and quite frankly much funnier than most people my age. I want to share my skills with those who yearn for a creative voice so am working on my dream of an open studio where people can come hang out, create and learn about textiles.

I’m also deeply concerned about the future of the planet. I know we have the capability to correct our behaviour, to practise more sustainably and focus on making daily improvements. I continue to create, recycle and mend my own clothes to avoid destructive fast fashion. I believe that nurturing creativity to develop inner strength and resilience will provide the tools to make choices for the good of all.

If you could sum up your view of the world in 5 words?

On the cusp of change.

(All images from Kerrie’s personal archive) 

“The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural...” Wassily Kandinsky

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Until relatively recently in human history, “blue” didn’t exist- at least not in the way we think of it. Early mankind yearned to speak the language of the sky and ocean, but had no way to render the color with meager earthbound pigments. It was only just a matter of time until the color blue; elusive, soothing, and supernatural, would change the course of human vision forever.

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In the Ancient Greek tale“The Odyssey,” Homer famously fumbles at identifying the color blue as the “wine-dark sea.” Even though Homer’s words beguiled readers, the color still remained beyond imagination. Ancient Greece was a muddled, murky world. Whites, yellows, metallics, and browns were the only utterances of colorful jargon in their civilization. That is until the Lapis Lazuli slowly meandered through the trade routes of Afghanistan, landing into the hands of one of the Ancient World’s most powerful queens.

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It took 6,000 years to travel onto the eyelids and embellished gowns of Cleopatra. When she wasn’t powdering her eyes with ground up Lapis Lazuli pigments, she ordered the color be adorned on the tombs of her most powerful colleagues to protect them in the afterlife. But she wasn’t the only one to covet and capture the already millenia old tinctures.

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The maverick Marco Polo, inspired by Homer and Cleopatra’s exploits, journeyed to Afghanistan in the 13th century only to discover mysterious blue-tinged pigments inside the mines of the Kokeha Valley. Fascinated, the young explorer collected an insurmountable supply of the variegate. It’s as if he somehow knew the color would change the course of art, trade, and commerce forever.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 4.40.58 PM“Camel Market in Tanger” – Ferdinand Willaert

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With that, Marco Polo swiftly trekked home wowing Venetian revelers and silencing his naysayers by delivering an astronomical supply of what he coined “ultra-marine” pigments to the ports of Venice.

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Ultramarine, literally meaning ‘over-seas’-forever impacted Western Europe’s most innovative artists, merchants, and craftsmen of Marco Polo’s time and beyond. Thus, began the modern age of ultramarine’s transformation into blue.

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Whether its Krishna dancing comfortably in his own blue skin, or worn as a symbol of public service in ancient Rome, its historical presence is hard to deny.

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From the Industrial Revolution deep into the 21st Century, blue has syphoned itself onto the uniforms of international militaries, the navy, and on international peacekeeping troops.

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As late as 1915 “Bright Blue” became an official color in Britain. Former Editrix of Vogue, Diana Vreeland, said “Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.52.46 AM“The Blue Room” by Pablo Picasso

Picasso paid homage to the color with his Blue Period, and now in the 21st Century, Damien Hirst’s “No Love Lost, Blue Paintings,” has further immortalized the color into it’s own coming of age.

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Today, TSAR has given the color that symbolizes peace, universal dignity, blue note jazz, and loyalty its own decorative and bespoke voice.

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Any shade of blue, ultramarine, lapis, cobalt, or azure can be obtained from the Tsar House Collection, or custom made to compliment your artworks, interiors, and soft furnishings.

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At TSAR we admire how blue has weaved its cacophonous web of scarcity and celebration throughout human history. That’s why as TSAR’s Color of the Month for June, we venture to unleash and unveil the mystery that is blue under your feet and into your imagination today, tomorrow, and for the future to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We spoke to David Sharpley of Tsar Carpets to get the low down on why there’s a huge discrepancy in rug prices on the market. He points out the five main elements that affect cost and what to look for when it comes to quality, cost, and materials.

  1. FIBER CONTENT

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For every fiber, the price depends on the level of quality.

For example, even 100% New Zealand wool can be of high quality and higher price range-and also of a low price rang. If the customer is willing to compromise quality for the sake of cost, then so be it!

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Choosing New Zealand wool of the highest grade will ensure that the lanolin content of the wool is high. Lanolin gives a natural water protective layer to the fibers, making the rug stain resistant. High quality New Zealand wool also has longer strands that make up the thread, meaning the yarn is stronger. These longer strands are the secret to making sure a rug retains its original quality for longer, and aids in the reduction of fluffing and shedding.

Some other fibers that are used include silk, bamboo silk, viscose and nylon.

Silk is usually the most expensive fiber, and nylon and viscose are usually the least expensive. Wool and Bamboo Silk combinations are very popular among those looking at mid-range prices for a high-end product.

Each of these fibers has its place in designing a rug.

Talk to a consultant at TSAR about which fibers best suits your style and practicality requirements.

2. MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUE

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While both techniques produce high quality products, hand-tufting is a less costly option than hand-knotting. This is due to the amount of time, excellence and mastered technique required to create a hand-knotted rug.

Hand Knotting

For this reason, hand-knotted rugs are often seen as a more sentimental investment. The same price difference exists in the cost of craftsmanship- lower quality craftsmanship is cheaper than artisan craftsmanship.

Read more about Tsar’s Manufacturing Techniques.

3. COMPLEXITY OF DESIGN

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The intricacy of your chosen design will dictate how long the manufacturing process will take, plus the level of craftsmanship required to produce the rug. These factors will ultimately affect the final price.

Autumnal - Stipples in NZ Wool

A more detailed design, such as using multiple colors and/or fibers, will have a higher price than a rug of a single color and basic pattern.

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4. PILE HEIGHT AND WEIGHT

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Pile height is another contributing factor to the price of a rug. The thicker the rug and the more raw material required to make it, the higher the overall price.

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The weight of a rug is also an important factor in determining the cost of the product. The more densely a rug is tufted or knotted, the more expensive it will be in relation to its pile height.

High density rugs are sturdier, so they are perfect for high traffic areas like foyers, hallways or under dining room tables where you want to minimize indentation.

5. QUALITY OF FINISH

Quality of Finish

Other prices variations between suppliers can indicate quality of latex (for tufted rugs), quality of backing material, and quality of finishing.

Each of these five factors affect the longevity and beauty of your rug, along with the price.

The best and most useful advice for our customers?

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Buy the best you can afford. A higher quality rug will last a longer time, and retain its original texture and design.

Contact TSAR for any questions, concerns, or to speak with one of their design consultants anywhere in the world.

 

 

 

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We spoke to David Sharpley CEO and founder of Tsar Carpets to find out what’s what in rug manufacturing techniques. With 30 years experience he is well qualified to break it down for us!

Tufted example - trixiTrixi Design – Hand-Tufted with natural undyed NZ Wool, and dyed Bamboo Silk”

Generally, there are two main techniques used in rug and carpet manufacturing: hand knotting, and hand tufting.

Hand-Tufting

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Hand-tufting is a relatively modern technique by which the fibers are punctured through a large canvas to create the rug.

Tufted - frontTUFTED – Hand-Tufted Front

The threads on the back are then secured by a latex backing, and the front is hand-shorn and sculpted as required.

Tufted - backTUFTED BACK-Hand-Tufted Back

It is an impressively fast process in comparison to hand knotting, and the level of complexity that can be achieved in design is unbeatable.

 

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It is a great option for custom carpets and rugs where excellence of fiber and a speedy delivery are priorities.

Tufted example - autumnal

Hand-Knotting

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Hand-knotted rugs are the original way of weaving rugs. Cotton threads are strung up on a loom and the fibers are woven and knotted through by hand.

knot2_14Traditionally, the knotting technique used differs from region to region, and is carried out by specialized artisans, as it is an extremely intricate technique that requires a great level of expertise.

Knotted - frontHand-Knotted Front 

It is a slow process, but the end result is a worthy investment. As no glues are used, the rug can be washed, and will last for centuries.

Knotted - back(1)Hand-Knotted Back 

Both techniques have their place in finding the perfect rug for your home. Chat to one of the in-house designers at TSAR about which technique works best for you!

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For more tips on what to look for when buying a rug visit TSAR NEWS.

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Finding a foothold on visions and dreams is never as easy as it seems. With a passion for the French countryside and plenty of will power to boot, two determined Aussie couples embarked on the tireless quest of acquiring a breathtaking property. After an arduous hunt, Ian and Ruth Bird decided it was time to go back to their home in the U.K. while Ian’s brother David and his wife Marie returned to Australia from France. Once home Marie discovered an email highlighting clues to an undiscovered gem. With some deliberation, they decided it was time to take the irresistible, yet challenging opportunity to purchase a magnificently positioned property.

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The glorious house appropriately titled La Maison Oiseux (House of Bird), is made up of two residences, and quietly nestled in the French countryside located in Cordes-Sur-Ciel. After signing on the dotted line, both couples realized that was only half the battle. Ultimately, they would have to begin the herculean task by designing the interiors remotely.

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Faced with a major renovation, they decided to stay away from dark rooms with little daylight, mixed with garish color contrasts they had previously seen in the area. “The house has that special something that makes you throw caution to the wind,” says Ruth. That meant renovating from a distance and calling on the services of TSAR.

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With the help of an architect, space was redesigned in order to maximize the views across the front of the property. Each of the partners relished the task of designing the interiors.

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Paint colors were chosen to reflect the view and with the help of the design team at TSAR, two gorgeous rugs were designed to invite the colours from the magnificent countryside inside. One rug features wonderful sunflowers that are abundant in the fields nearby.

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One could say that the property offers a home away from home, encompassing the epitome of true Joie de Vivre! Coupled with the secret essence of the beautiful French countryside, history, food and culture, TSAR has truly brought the bon vivant outside to the inside of La Maison Oiseaux.

The house is now available for rent. For inquiries and further information please contact Marie Bird: mariebird@birdgroup.net.au

“The Cetak collection is another example of our relentless pursuit to create the ultimate rugs with matching texture and feel to meet the expectation we have when looking at the ancient, timeless and beautiful designs.” – David Sharpley, CEO TSAR Carpets and Rugs

Cetak Collection
Cetak Collection

This collection pays homage to the aesthetic of Indonesian textiles. Although rug-making is traditionally a laborious and exacting process, the Cetak Collection challenges and celebrates spontaneity in craft and design.

Cetak Collection
Cetak Collection

Drawing on the art of woodblock printing, natural accidents in this ancient tradition are fully embraced, giving Cetak designs a beauty of serendipity, that give way to natural patterns and organic elements. The result is a raw, breezy and playful rug collection, perfect for contemporary and rustic inspired interiors.

Cetak Collection
Cetak Collection
“In real life the rugs are tactile and exceed the perception we adopt when seeing the beautiful designs. The actual texture are not industrious and don’t feel manufactured. The result is rewardingly remarkable.” David Sharpley, CEO TSAR Carpets
Cetak Collection
Cetak Collection

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO VIEW THE FULL CETAK COLLECTION DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT TSAR CARPETS

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Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture

Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture features the TSAR  Treeko Collection and Freeform Designs located inside Sydney’s 251 Glebe Point Road.

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Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture

Located amongst the lively buzz of the Glebe shopping village, this original character-filled terrace offers stunning city skyline views.

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Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
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Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture

The space emits design innovation that Alexiou has managed to execute perfectly by showcasing TSAR’s own Treeko and Freeform.

Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
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Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture

Treeko and Freeform lend spaciousness to the master bedroom and living room while adding unlimited design possibilities for creating dimension and breadth to each space.

Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture
Charles Alexiou Interior Design and Architecture

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Visit CHARLES ALEXÍOU INTERIOR DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE

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CONTACT AMREI GOLD AT amrei@tsarusa.com

Visit Tsar Carpets to view the complete collections, projects, and design galleries.

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TSAR Designer Julia Gentil

With major collections under her belt, TSAR Carpets and Rugs designer Julia Gentil is inspired by the world around her. Whether it’s in the form of scattered leaves, a concrete path or a rural lake, Gentil is fully aware of the potential TSAR Rugs and Carpets provides for all spaces. What’s most important for Gentil is her direct awareness of the potential rug designs have on all of our daily and visual experiences. Gentil’s background is accomplished, and innovative to say the least. Her hi-end retail branding experience in Sydney led her to Melbourne where she transitioned her skills and began to dedicate her time to the passionate and creative team at TSAR.

Tell us how you got started with TSAR, and all it’s wonderful beginnings?

I started working with TSAR in 2010. With a background in hi-end retail branding in Sydney, I had enjoyed a transition into rug design specializing in handknotted rugs. When I moved to Melbourne and joined TSAR I had to translate that knowledge across to hand tufted rugs and learn the business. TSAR is a family owned company with a team of dedicated and passionate people. With all the idiosyncrasies that come with a smaller company, there also comes a huge amount of autonomy and potential to create and push boundaries. TSAR is unique in this way. There is an ethos of celebrating the new and constantly challenging the known.

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From the Mirage Collection in “Thirlmere Cardamom”

What collections have you designed for TSAR Carpets and Rugs?  

I have designed many one offs, custom client designs and collections for TSAR. Among my favorite are:
– Individual House Colleciton rugs: Autumnal and Berridale 2011
The Royale Collection 2012 (Brocade Royale, Patti, Doiley and Castallo)
– co-creating the Mirage Collection 2013 (Thirlmere and Jindabyne)
The Neva Fade Collection 2014
The Aquarelle Collection 2014
The Cetak Collection 2015 (Daun, Renda, Pita etc)

Autumnal Fawn
“Autumnal Fawn”- An original design by Julia Gentil

 

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“Berridale Dusk” – An original design by Julia Gentil 
Autumnal Fawn Stairs
“Autumnal Fawn” Stairs

What made these collections successful in your opinion?

The jury is still out on the latest ones as to whether they are a success. It is really over time (9-18mths) where we see what has worked. Often we will have a range online and/or in the showroom and it will get lots of admiration but not actually take off commercially until after 8-9 months. Internally we like to console ourselves by exclaiming that we are “ahead of our time”. In general terms though, a collection that both aesthetically and conceptually engages with contemporary colours and themes, is forgiving to everyday living and fits into comfortable price ranges tend to succeed in Australia.

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From the Aquarelle Collection in “Fabien”

What inspires you to bring your designs and visions to life?

Mostly I’m inspired by what’s around me. Whether it be scattered autumn leaves on the concrete path, a reflection of reeds at twilight on a rural lake, the splotches of a water colour palette… it is a real joy to be living with an awareness of potential rug designs in any visual experience. It keeps me on my toes and my eyes open to the textures and details of life.

 

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From the Cetak Collection in “Renda Mist”

What’s the one piece of advice you can give to a TSAR Customer shopping for a prospective rug or carpet?

My advice is consistent. Take a photo of your space you need “rugged”. Measure up, take pictures of anything that surrounds the space, paintings, lighting, the view. Collect swatches from the upholstery in the room and note what colour timbers are used if any. Set yourself a budget and take this information to a TSAR consultant. And then trust them. TSAR have been doing this a long time and are really good at tailoring the best design for the space. The best designs have come from the brief being thorough to begin with.

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From the Cetak Collection in “Pita Fig”

TSAR has a prolific portfolio, spanning just over 30 years. Where do you see the future of TSAR at this moment in time?

TSAR have been tackling the US market for the last few years and this has been both challenging and exciting for the business. It has opened up doors for bigger markets and therefore more diverse aesthetics. I work a lot on R&D and the US potential has allowed this to be feasible. Exploring new fibers, techniques and suppliers all rely on having the market to embrace it. –

Welcome to Stand 11B  ‘Temporary Museum for New Design’ Zona Tortona, Superstudio, MILAN SALONE DEL MOBILE 2013

Tsar and David Trubridge Design have collaborated to bring David Trubridge Designs in Carpet as part of his installation at Milan,’The Elements’

Tsar carpets track the cycle of water, our life force, from the mountain to the forest floor.

The centre piece of the installation is RUAPEHU, New Zealands famous mountain.

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The Cycle of Water continues to ICE

ICE

Through the waterways to DOUBTFUL SOUND

Doubtful Sound

Creating DRIFTWOOD

Driftwood

and feeding the earth’s plants KOWHAI

Kowhai

until it leaves the earth back to the mountain leaving SPINIFEX

Spinifex