Ariana Rugs owners Ahmad, Alex and Nadia Ahmadi are siblings who learned every aspect of weaving as part of a family deeply engaged in and passionate about carpet weaving. Today their company is part of the revitalization of the handmade carpet industry in their homeland of Afghanistan and GoodWeave’s first licensee there. Ariana’s beautiful modern aesthetic, gorgeous colors, perfectionism in craft and commitment to ethical business have created a high demand for the brand around the world.
Born in Kabul to a family that had been manufacturing, trading and exporting fine hand knotted rugs since the 1920s, the Ahmadis learned every aspect of traditional weaving, repairing and washing rugs. Many members of the extended family were deeply involved in the carpet-weaving industry, one of Afghanistan’s largest commercial export industries. The Ahmadi family initiated carpet manufacturing in the city of Kabul, creating an atelier, or studio, where different regional types of rugs were made in one place–an unusual model for Afghanistan.
The Ahmadi family was also the first to make Afghan rugs using 100 percent silk instead of coarser wool. “My uncle came upon a pile of silk that wasn’t being used for textiles and turbans,” Ahmad recalls. “He began to recycle it and make weaving products of 100 percent hand spun silk. These rugs had different colors–more colors–browns and beiges and greens and blues versus the typical red and blue Afghan rugs.”
Life changed dramatically when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and Ahmad and Alex were forced to leave and go to Germany, where they repaired rugs for income. “We couldn’t bring anything from Afghanistan, so we really had to work for our survival,” Ahmad says. In 1986 the brothers moved to the United States, starting in the San Francisco Bay area but soon moving to the larger market of Los Angeles, where they started Ariana Rugs in 1990, along with their sister Nadia.
In 2002, after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ariana Rugs established its factory in Kabul. In search of something new and different, Ahmad says, “We began to create very muted, washed out, low-pile rugs–they call it today’s antique, modern antique. The rugs were very well received throughout the design community and through our dealers.”
The stunningly beautiful rugs have been so well received, in fact, that Ariana Rugs won the prestigious Magnificent Carpet award sponsored by Architectural Digest in 2010 in Atlanta, and other awards followed. Three of the company’s rugs were exhibited in Moscow’s Museum of Oriental Art in 2011. An Australian museum recently purchased an Ariana rug for its collection.
Ariana Rugs began to work with GoodWeave in 2012. “Afghanistan was synonymous with rugs, and it’s a beautiful craft and artwork that has been handed to us. We are responsible for taking it to the next generation,” Ahmad says. “We want the world to see that these rugs are made by professionals, not by kids, and there is no child labor used in our products.
Ariana Rugs is doing its part to create good memories and a better future for the children of contemporary Afghanistan who have grown up with war. “By supporting Ariana Rugs and GoodWeave, people in the United States will support a family that will have food and education for their kids,” Ahmad says. “We cannot help the whole country, but if we can help one at a time, it’s important.”
While the family’s story is poignant and life has taken them far from their peaceful childhood, the Ahmadis are hopeful that the beautiful rugs that Ariana Rugs manufactures and sells will help restore a timeless art form, revitalize Afghanistan’s economy, and provide some safety and security for today’s Afghan children and adult workers–and that the GoodWeave label will be a beautiful addition to every Ariana rug.
Learn more about Ariana Rugs and view samples at www.arianarugs.com.