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Taking a deep dive into the relationship between handmade rugs and art, Jaipur Living gets advice from the pros. Here, two interior designers and one artist walk us through their unique interpretation of rugs as artistic expression.

A woman in an all white jumpsuit sits in front of a black and white abstract mural

Jaipur Living commissioned artist Alisa Barry to paint an Japanese ink mural inspired by the Graphite collection.

Art on the Floor

At the intersection of art and home is interior design. Translating everyday needs with the aspirational desires of clients, designers mold houses into homes, composing the stories of our lives through curated furnishings, finishes, decor, and art. At the foundation are rugs—at times a connecting thread from one vignette to the next, at others an artful moment in their own right.

See also: 4 Ways To Elevate Interiors With Unconventional Materials

Studying the connection between rugs and art, Jaipur Living commissioned artist Alisa Barry to bring that relationship to life. Inside our photo studio, Barry colored the walls with broad, painterly strokes emanating from her Japanese ink art series and inspired by the graphic nature of the Graphite collection of rugs.

A white sofa with black and gray pillows in a living room with a pink mural covered in illustrations of female faces

As styled by Jill White Designs, the Pathways collection by Verde Home provides a neutral yet impactful anchor to this art-filled living space. Photo by Jason Masters

Artist Touch

“Everything is an opportunity for art,” says Barry. “Even the most everyday mundane acts can be an expression of art—how we dress, how we eat, how we decorate our homes, how we live our lives. For me, Japanese ink is one form of expression that translates how the mundane and the sacred come together.” Sourcing inspiration from all around, the artist searches for beauty in all forms. “It can be a leaf I find on the grass or a flower that’s wilting in the windowsill,” she says. “It’s everything and everywhere; it’s in people and things. I find inspiration everywhere I can.” Including, of course, the home and its many design elements.

See also: What’s Trending In Modern Design

Interior designers Jill White of eponymous firm Jill White Designs and Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow, too, look to art, rugs, and home accessories as forms of creative expression. “Like most design elements, I believe rugs should stimulate more than one of the five senses,” says Guyton. “In addition to the visual element, their touch provides warmth, comfort, and livability to a space.”

A black, gray and white graphic rug sits under two leather chairs and a leather ottoman in a living room with a black console and modern art

Jill White styles the Iconic collection in this sitting area. While the art is a focal point, the rug also stands out as a special design moment. Photo by Jason Masters

Defining Moment

Where rugs are the anchor to any interiors scape, art is the final flourish—with one always informing the other. The order, naturally, is dependent on both the designer leading the charge and the client’s appetite for artistic exploration. “Rugs, in my opinion, are the anchor of the room,” explains White. “In most cases, a rug can tie the entire space together and always add texture, interest, and depth to a space.”

See also: 8 Questions On The Truth About Textiles

“Art is an expression of my life,” says Barry. In her own decor story, she notes, “I’m drawn to simple, elegant textures and materials and how they relate to how I live my life. Yet I want them have their own personal expression.” It becomes a balancing act of personality, spotlighted moments, and quiet, neutral backdrops. Adds White, “No room is complete with art and accessories. The final styling can make or break a room. I have a styling plan in the beginning of a project to make sure the project is complete and my client understands it is an important part of the project.”

A white section sofa is covered with neutral colored throw pillows

The abstract patterns of the Genesis collection are the star of this living room from Blessed Little Bungalow. Photo by Laura Alexandra Photography

Mutual Benefits

As Guyton notes, rugs—and art—should stimulate the senses. As the anchor to a design, rugs provide a softness and livability to a space, while art helps tie the final bow. Both, however, are vessels to evoke emotion. “Similar to art,” she says, “rugs can also evoke emotion and spark curiosity. They are truly the best opportunity to add art to a space outside of a room’s four walls. When you approach floors as a blank canvas, a rug can instantly add color, texture, and visual interest to any room.”

While art can peer from the walls, shelves, side tables, and the like, rugs present an opportunity to extend the experience to last frontier of blank space: the floor. “Marrying art and rugs for decor is essential. It ties everything 100% together,” says Barry. “You want a space that reflects who you are and how you feel. … We’re so affected by our environment.” Whether it’s a rug with graphic strokes of black and white a la Graphite, a vintage stunner with an intriguing history, or a clean, simple moment to ground a room, Barry notes, “rugs have a certain energy to them.” Just as a work of art does.

A pink modern chair with stone pedestal side table sit atop a gray and cream rug

The Pathways collection by Verde Home makes a bold statement in this curated vignette by Jill White. Photo by Jason Masters

Bring The Art In

A splash of color. A custom mural. A family portrait. A patterned wallcovering. An art fair find. Art can be sourced from any and everywhere and incorporating it into a room design has near endless opportunities. “There are so many ways to bring art into a space I design,” says Guyton. “The easiest method is by hanging canvases, patterns in curtains, rugs and pillows, and adding decor that elevates architectural elements present in the room.” But, she cautions, “any other decor added must complement and not compete with the art, ensuring it’s not lost in the design.”

White, meanwhile, looks outside the proverbial frame to add an intriguing spin to artful additions. “I like to mix media—i.e. canvas, paper, dimensional pieces—that paired together can make a space interesting and add character,” she says. “I also love using bold, patterned wallpaper. One of my favorites (who is also a friend and client), Lindsay Cowles is an artist who turns her artwork into wallpaper and textiles. Her wallpaper is literally art for walls.”

Adds Barry, “Art is such an essential part and component to creating. It’s like the pieces of a whole.” To create a holistic environment, the artist notes, synchronicity is key. “When you walk into a space the rug, the chair, the art… it all works in perfect harmony and synergy, and that’s what makes you feel good.” It’s “the vibes” as we’ve come to know them. “Sometimes,” Barry concludes, “you don’t even know why you feel good, but that is exactly some of the reason why you do feel good.”

Designer Picks

Guyton’s Artful Rugs

“I’m obsessed with the Genesis collection and have used several of these rugs in various client projects over the years. Each rug can give any space a watercolor foundation that’s truly a work of art. The collection is stylish, contemporary, and alluring, drawing you in with its swirls of various colors and plush pile. I could easily style any space with a Genesis rug including living rooms, bedrooms, and kid spaces.”

“I’m currently using Nikki Chu‘s Sanaa rug for Jaipur Living in my client’s teenage son’s bedroom design. Although the space will be modern, moody, and masculine, this rug will make a colorful statement with its blue and gray tones and create instant comfort beneath the new black leather and walnut furnishings. The modern and abstract design is timeless and will age well alongside the room’s maturing owner.”

Kate Lester‘s Harman rug for Jaipur Living is a whimsical twist on a traditional favorite. I love the thought and intention put into her entire collaboration. The vibrant colors of this rug would give a bright and beautiful foundation to any space. I’d style it with natural woods, layered neutral fabrics, and brass accents for a Bohemian vibe with feminine flair.”

Guyton’s Artists of Note

“I’m currently inspired by artists such as Hebru Brantley, Malene Barnett, B. Robert Moore, and Melissa Koby. Their use of color, pattern, messaging, and celebration of diversity invigorate and motivate me push beyond my immediate ideas and create spaces that truly reflect and the clients I serve with my design work.”

A black-and-white graphic rug with a wooden console behind

The graphic nature of the Anthem collection makes a bold statement.

White’s Artful Rugs

“I love Syntax and am waiting for the perfect space to place this one in. I currently have this one in a concept for a teen’s room with cane and white lacquer furniture.”

“I love the whole Iconic collection. I love the organic shapes. These rugs can hold their own.”

“I cannot wait to use Anthem. I am in love with both colorways. I would style the black-and-white one with colorful, bold artwork and accessories in a room full of neutral upholstery.”

White’s Artist of Note

“I can’t stop with Alex Proba’s Tomorrow Land installation in Miami—so fun, colorful, inspiring.”

An artist with a large broom starts her Japanese ink art mural

Alisa Barry at work in the Jaipur Living studio with the Graphite rug underfoot.