Posted on November 20 2019
I don’t try to live a simple life, but the most diverse, profound, and intense life I can imagine, as this life is my treasure. Colors express these things for me; I celebrate life through color.
The past few weeks, Portland has come alive in pinks, oranges, reds, and all the shades between as the leaves prepare for winter. What a joy to see this finale of intense color before we head into the wait for springtime. These vibrant flecks of life contrast the increasingly gloomy sky, reminding us of all that color brings to our journey. Here in the shop, we are busy gathering handmade rugs from around the world, hoping to fill your hearts and homes year round with this same celebration of color and life.
A neutral palette is the perfect backdrop for one of our vibrant contemporary rugs from award-winning international artists such as Erbil Tezcan, Jan Kath or Jürgen Dahlmanns.
Christiane, her new associate Courtney, and returning associate Matt are always ready to provide a memorable shopping experience, full of history, knowledge and rug-picking expertise. Our collection is continuously growing and shifting, with many one-of-a-kind pieces. Thus, the website has a representative sampling but you are encouraged and always invited to see our full rug and textile collection in person at the historic Doyle building on Northwest Lovejoy Street.
– Matthew Ashley Returns –
Working with Christiane at her first location around 15 years ago, I soon realized that her appreciation of rugs and textiles was contagious. I was bit by the “rug bug” as it is known, which may be an extension of growing up with a self-professed antique and vintage clothing “wheeler and dealer” father. I learned from him to appreciate not only genuine craftsmanship, but also the investment of time that goes into things made by hand, and the connection these things hold with the people who make them.
Now in my second opportunity to work with Christiane, my appreciation and love of these wonderful, unique items has only grown. I am honored to be able to access her extensive knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for not only what the right rug can bring to a room, but for also showing me how they can enrich the experience of everyone who enters that room.
Cultivating my understanding of classic rug design, culture, and history, and experiencing the emerging trends among designers around the world is extremely inspiring. Working daily with textiles, from the unique work of Erbil Tezcan of Wool & Silk Rugs to the incredibly forward-looking, plays-with-tradition designs of Jan Kath, is a privilege—not to mention meeting and befriending Rug Star’s creative mastermind Jürgen Dahlmans! Utilizing my own background in art, design, and printmaking to develop custom rugs is something I hope to bring to the floor in the future.
Asked to choose his two favorite rugs in the shop, Matt chose these Gabbeh and Heriz classics.
Currently, my two favorite rugs are both Persian pieces. The more formal Heriz from Northern Iran is one of the “Grande Dames” of the store, nearly a century old. One of the reasons older Heriz’ are so sought after is the heartiness and resilience of the wool used. Some believe this is due to the sheep being bred (even to this day) along the slopes of Mount Sabalan, which sits on a massive reserve of copper. This is thought to contribute to the high concentration of the mineral in the water they drink, producing a coarse wool with high tensile strength.
The second rug is a Gabbeh from Southern Iran, which I affectionately refer to as “The Klimt” due to the similarity to his “cells” of color featured in such works as “The Kiss” and “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.” This piece is a fantastic example of the whimsy, craft, and ingenuity of these one-of-a-kind rugs.
– Meet Courtney Brandt –
After a decade living in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as a humanitarian aid worker, I grew to love bold patterns and the textiles that bore them, bringing vibrant colors to lives in difficult places. The history and culture reflected in rugs, in particular, have drawn me in and kept me fixated.
Since relocating to Portland and deciding to make the leap into working with textiles, I sought out the highest quality in the local industry, the one with the most fun taste. Why learn from anyone but the best? I’m thrilled to join the team at Christiane Millinger Handmade Rugs. Christiane's passion for rugs and textiles and the beauty of handcrafted objects is infectious. Her knowledge of these pieces, from their historical significance down to their molecular makeup, is astounding.
Courtney’s current favorites in the shop: an intricate transitional rug from Jan Kath and a bold Gabbeh.
Two pieces in the shop have captured my heart and cause me to pause every time we flip through the stacks. We have a blue, grey, green 8x10 Jan Kath piece that pulls the perfect amount of tradition and colorful modern funk together. Honestly, it isn’t a colorway I am usually drawn to, but this rug surprises me with how it resonates, how dynamic and new it can feel each time I see it. No photo does it justice; you should just come in so we can walk around it together and appreciate the generations of craft that bore this beauty.
The second is a 5x7 Gabbeh which makes me smile when I see it. Between deep blue and green tones, there is a little camel caravan walking past a setting sun, this deep red half circle boldly in the middle of the rug. Again, I'm surprised at how much I like this piece; I’m not usually one for animal figures in my home furnishings, but this caravan charms me into looking to see which camel has blue eyes, how each is different, wanting to ask them where they are going, happy to have them within eyesight. The ancient craft of creating a Gabbeh with hand-carded and hand-spun yarns, naturally dyed, all methods that have been honed over thousands of years, the plush inviting feel of the wool— there is little not to love.
These pieces ground me and I love sharing them with people, even just pausing to admire them with Christiane and Matt as we tidy up the shop. Spending my days around this art and helping people find space for them in their homes and designs brings me a lot of joy. We all need some beauty and grounding beneath our feet. I hope you find yours.
A final note: Freshly arrived in the shop are these playful little rugs that joyously unite vibrant colors with easy neutrals. We have an assortment in 3x5 and 4x6, at surprisingly low prices. Come in or email to see more.