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) 

Chysanthemum Rug

So you’ve ogled your friends’ rugs, poured over interior design magazines, and window-licked up and down the streets from here to Timbuktu. Now it’s time to take the plunge and find yourself The One. How exactly does one go about buying a rug?

David Sharpley_Wall Street(1)

Over 30 years of experience in the industry have lead David Sharpley, owner of Tsar Carpets USA and AUS, to become a passionate authority on rugs and carpets.

David’s philosophy is that rugs are the ultimate canvas for creativity. They are tactile and artistic, yet functional and liveable.  They are key elements in converting house to home. The challenge lies in striking balance between quality, fiber, style, cost and performance.

David has given us the coveted top FAQs for buying a rug that ensures your interior design endeavor is a successful one.

1. WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS FOR BUYING A RUG?

Porcelein Rug

  1. Once you have decided where a rug is required, take photo of the space from two or more angles.
  1. Next, mark out and measure the area that you want to be covered by the rug. This can easily be done by laying down masking tape or newspaper.
  1. Re-enter the room and walk around, sit down to see how you like the arrangement.
  1. When you have settled on the layout, you can take the measurements and pictures to a rug and carpet retailer.

QUICK TIP: in a living room, having ⅓ of the rug under the couch and sofa chairs is a good rule of thumb. This ensures a sense of flow through the room.

For a dining room, allow the rug to peak out about 70cm from under the table. This leaves enough room for chairs to be pulled in and out without falling off the edge of the rug.

There are two options when purchasing a rug: you can buy one ‘off the rack’, or you can have one custom made.

Both are great options, but custom designing a rug can cut your search time in half by ensuring you get the exact size, color scheme and design you’re after.

Tsar offers a design service by which you can tweak any in-house design to your liking, or create a rug from scratch. They’ll even make a mock-up of your space with your potential rug designs in it, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

If you’ve completed the above steps, you’re ready to jump right in and start discussing fibers, colors and designs with one of Tsar’s in-house designers!

2. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAND-TUFTED AND HAND-KNOTTED  RUGS? 

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Hand-tufting is a relatively modern technique. It’s a fantastically fast process in comparison to hand knotting, and the level of complexity that can be achieved in design is unsurpassable.

handknotting

Hand-knotting is the traditional way to weave rugs. 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.

Read more about the difference between hand-tufting and hand-knotting here.

3. SHOULD I PICK A NATURAL FIBER OR SYNTHETIC?

For rugs, the best fibers are the natural fibers. Quality wool performs better than any fiber: it’s stain resistant, naturally warm or cold depending on the season, lasts for years, and it looks newer for longer.

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However, synthetic fibers like nylon have come a long way, and can be a good choice for a particularly high traffic area, like a hotel foyer, as nylon is stiffer than wool and won’t flatten overtime.

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Other man made fibers, like viscose and bamboo silk, also have their place, as cheaper alternatives to silk.

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While the price of synthetic fibers can be lower than than that if natural fibers, the difference in quality is like solid gold vs gold plated jewellery- both look great, but only one will last forever.

4. SHORT PILE vs. LONG PILE?

Malachite - Stipples in NZ copy

Short pile (where the fiber tufts are 7-9mm high) should be used in most cases as it gives density, which helps to ensure the pile won’t crush underfoot.

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Longer pile is often used in bedrooms for softer feel, but it will compact and flatten over time in areas that receive a lot of foot traffic.

5. WHAT ELEMENTS DO I NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHEN LOOKING AT DESIGNS? 

First, think about some practical factors to set the parameters.

Do you have an animal that sheds white hair? Steer clear of designs with large areas of dark colors.

Do you have messy toddlers? Busier designs will be more forgiving to spills and wear and tear.

Is it a heavy traffic area? Stay away from light colors, especially yellow.

Small room? Minimal designs in lighter colors can make a room feel more spacious.

Also consider the amount of natural light in the room, as this can influence how brightly colors show up. Once you have taken the practical elements into account, you can have fun playing with designs and colors that reflect with your personal taste.

Knotted example

6. WHY IS THERE SUCH A PRICE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN RUGS ON THE MARKET?

There are five factors that determine the price of a rug: fiber content, manufacturing technique, complexity of design, pile height, and weight.

Each of these factors affect the longevity and beauty of your rug. A higher quality rug will last a long time, and retain its original texture and design.

Read more about the 5 factors that contribute to the price of a rug here.

7. SO HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON A RUG?

Beacon 1

While rugs can be made to accommodate any budget, it is important to remember that a lower price range can mean compromising the quality and longevity of the product.

Determine which of the five factors that contribute to the price of a rug are most important to you, and figure your budget out from there.

A rug is an investment, and it’s never a bad idea to invest in a quality product that you love, and that will last a lifetime.

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Once you find the find the right rug that fits your interiors, you can rest easy knowing that you’re on the way to realizing your vision. But remember, custom made will always ensure you get 100% quality in terms of fiber, design, and pile height. Take the time to find something perfect for your space, and no matter the house, it’ll always feel like home.

 

 

David Sharpley_Exhibition

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

tuftingmaster

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.

 

handtufted_rug_process

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

handknotting

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!

Halo Rug

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

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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.

Thirlmere_Cardamom_Full copy
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

 

Berridale2
“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.

Fabien_Blue&Green
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.

 

Loft interior with brick wall and coffee table. 3d rendering
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.

Pita_Fig Full
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. –

Saturday indesign Singapore 2012Setting up SID Singapore

Saturday indesign Singapore was held on 6th Oct 2012.  TSAR joined Vantage Concepts and Bode at the Red Dot Design Museum for their first public event in Singapore.

Red Dot Design Museum visitors at SID Singapore

The exhibition was busy all day with so much to say and show.  There was always a hub of activity around the stand and TSAR was incredibly well received.

Red Dot Design Museum

TSAR exhibited with Vantage Concept and Bode in the fabulous Red Dot Design Museum.

Teresa Cebrek and Pauline Goh

Teresa Ceberek and Pauline Goh worked incredibly hard that week, hosting the SID exhibition AND a fabulous launch party for TSAR Singapore.

SID Singapore

Everyone loved our ability to customize the design, size, colours and yarn type of carpets and rugs.

SID Stand with Vantage and Bode

The stand was designed by the talented Albano Daminato from Studio Dominato.

End of the SID Singapore Day

When most of the participants were attending what looked like an amazing after party, Teresa and Pauline both chose a quiet evening with good food, a glass of wine and a foot bath!!

Tsar Carpets we are well known for vibrant, innovative and specialised design.

What is not as well known is that we also create beautiful, subtle neutral designs for a range of projects and clients. Whether it be a delicate design in lovely soft tones or a luxurious texture, Tsar can custom make a neutral rug or carpet for the most sophisticated interior.

Willow – by Teresa Ceberek/NZ Wool and Bamboo Silk/2000mm x 3000mm/$4784.00

Aini – by Ross Cleland/100% Bamboo Silk/2000mm x 3000mm/$5745.00

Hotel – Custom Design/100% NZ Wool

Netta Sage – by Julia Gentil/NZ Wool and Bamboo Silk/2000mm x 3000mm/$3425.00

Chrysanthemum – by Ross Cleland/100% NZ Wool/Private Residence

Zen – by Teresa Ceberek/NZ Wool and Bamboo Silk/2000mm x 3000mm/$3710.00

Doiley Mist – by Julia Gentil/NZ Wool and Bamboo Silk/$4295.00

As with all our custom designs, we can specify fibres, size and colours to suit your space and budget.

See more of our neutrals here;

http://tsar.com.au/rugcarpetdesignneutrals.html