From afar, the rugs are unassuming yet classy, drawing you in by way of their simple shades. Yet a closer look will reveal a level of detail and luxurious texture that is synonymous with Omar Khan’s designs.
Grey Matters marks the debut of Omar Khan Loom, Omar Khan Rug’s diffusion line and contemporary carpet retailer artèfloor’s first designer collaboration. Launched recently, the monochrome collection uses a new yarn called Aurora, made with 100% art silk fibres, which comes in four grey tones.
The collection of eight rugs is inspired by Omar’s eight nephews and niece, whom the pieces are also named after.
“The rugs embody their personalities and characters. For example Anika (the centrepiece at the launch), is my only niece and she is an unapologetic kid who has a duality to her personality. It is a characteristic I hope she will keep as she grows up.
“This is reflected in the feminine rug done in a masculine colour. I like the juxtaposition of showcasing the delicate flowers in a gun metal grey,” shares the Singapore-born, Kuala Lumpur-based designer at the launch of the collection in KL.
Omar adds that the construction of the rug required intense carving techniques.
“In fact, our approach to all the rugs was to focus on hand carving to bring out the beauty of the yarn and we used the same construction technique, that is hand carving to create texture and dimension while creating very different looks. For Anika, the petals also needed to be beveled so there are no jarring hard edges and you feel that softness when you walk onto the rug.”
Of Dutch, Chinese, Egyptian, Pakistani and German heritage, Omar draws upon his experience in furniture design, interior design and illustration to develop his rugs.
His creations have made their way into the Venetian Macau, St Regis Maldives, as well as Christian Louboutin flagship stores in Beijing and Shanghai to name a few. In Malaysia, Banyan Tree and Genting Platinum Suites use his designs.
After graduating with a degree in animation from the Parson’s School of Design, New York, Omar first worked in visual merchandising before setting up his own design firm. He then decided to focus solely on rugs, establishing Omar Khan Rugs in 2014.
Omar went on to share about the inspiration behind the Aziz rug, named after his three-year-old nephew.
“We are still figuring out his personality. He does not say very much but you can see he thinks a lot. So when I was designing this rug, I thought of thought bubbles.
“But looking at the development of the design, it’s kind of a reinterpretation of William Morris’ (British textile designer) flowers,” says Omar, 38.
One of the key pieces of the collection is the Adam rug.
“Named after Anika’s older brother, this is the most technically-difficult rug. It also has the most tones and shades which I thought suited Adam as he’s an enigmatic character.
“I consider it one of the heroes of the collection simply because I feel this is kind of the amalgamation of all the different carving techniques and colour tones,” he explains.
Omar adds that another piece, Dre, is a great design which “really speaks to the powers of geometry”.
“My nephew Dre is wise beyond his years and this rug to me feels the most elegant and timeless. It has a familiarity about it yet the grey yarn makes it feel very modern and current.
“With the construction of this rug, it was quite a challenge to achieve the effect I wanted because despite the recurring herringbone motif, we wanted it to have hand-made quality so it had to look effortless and not too forced.
Jayden, he adds, is very different from the rest.
“He has always been his own trailblazer and that was how I developed the rug. It’s less abstract than the others but also less floral, so we are looking at a halfway medium between the two.
“What’s amazing about this is, if you put your fingers through these lines, you are going to see a lot of how that silk is going to activate. This is a good example of how a rug will transition from day to night,” he adds.
In December, Omar Khan Loom will launch a new collection in Australia, comprising 23 new designs in full colour.