Ask Reza Ashtari, owner of Antwerp-based Ashtari Carpets, about his handmade Oriental designer rugs and almost the first thing he tells you is that they are made ethically. He simply would not have it any other way and GoodWeave®, he says emphatically, assures him and his clients that Ashtari Carpets are not only beautiful but support fairness and justice.
A passion for rugs is, if not in Reza’s DNA, certainly deeply embedded in his fondest childhood memories. His Persian father founded the company and Reza grew up in the showroom. An avid soccer fan even in elementary school, he remembers kicking a ball around piles of gorgeous carpets. “I could dive and roll. Beautiful rugs were everywhere!” Although he did go off to study economics the lure of the rugs brought him back to the store where, as he puts it, his real education, the language, history and his passion for carpets, took off.
Ashtari already had an established reputation for its authentic Persian rugs, but under Reza the company launched a stylish new look while still honoring Ashtari’s deep roots in carpet tradition. Working with artists and architects Reza has now built a portfolio of design driven carpets. One such carpet is New Heriz. It is inspired by classical motifs of the ancient Heriz carpets. New Heriz, with its background of Tibetan hand spun wool and its foreground muted medallion in pure Chinese silk, pays homage to that history.
For the limited edition, award-winning carpet blue/green Reza teamed up with the creative duo of Belgian artists Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen. The result of this collaboration is an airy, whimsical pashmina and Tibetan wool piece with a shiny Chinese silk design that evokes an image of ribbons floating in the wind. “It’s a very tactile rug,” he says. “People just seem to love rubbing their hands over the silk to see the shine and feel the difference of the pashmina.”
For Reza’s absolute favorite piece, Garden of Eden, he turned to Parisian graphic designer, Jeanne Detallant. The Garden of Eden is a familiar motif in Iranian rugs, but Reza’s idea was not to revive the old design but to create a contemporary version of the ancient Iranian theme. Detallant’s penchant for mythic, even surreal abstract images was, says Reza, an almost magical collaboration. The result, a very large 100% Tibetan wool carpet, is a jubilant mix of color and texture. The dream like design draws viewers in with its exotic landscape of animals and plants in almost hallucinogenic burst of colors and shapes.
‘The reason why I do these collaborations is, in fact, my curiosity in seeing how specific designers from a specific field can create something new and out of the box. “
Reza’s clients, many of whom are artists, designers, and architects, are fans of Ashtari’s “out of the box” and contemporary sensibility. Along with that, he says, they appreciate the company’s commitment to justice. “Everybody needs to do something good and give back to the community and the world,” he says. “Life is not just about getting and getting!”
Learn more at ashtaricarpets.com.