Stylistically vintage rugs have the same appeal as vintage furniture. They are clearly defined by the 20th century and by the celebration of new ideas and values for a modern lifestyle. Fine art and fine craftsmanship are the main components of vintage design.
The modern design movement emerged in the 1920's and has moved forward interpreting modern design through the mid 20th century. Modernism reflected the transition from the era of the Victorian salons into the era of cafe society.
Art Deco represented high fashion and luxury in France. The studios of Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, Jules Leleu, Paul Follot and Maurice Dufrene are probably the best known for interior decoration. Ivan Da Silva Bruhns and Paule Leleu, the daughter of Jules Leleu designed rugs for the house of Leleu while Suzanne Guiguichon was designing rugs for Maurice Dufrene.Other important rug designers included Marion Dorn, Jules Coudyser, Rene Crevel and Vladimir Boberman. Bold colorful floral designs and graphic geometric patterns were equally popular.
Simultaneously the Bauhaus school was founded in Germany with the philosophy of marrying fine art training and apprenticeships with craftsmen and theoretical instruction. The Bauhaus weavers included Johannes Iten, Gunta Stolz and Anni Albers. The Bauhaus school and movement is credited with having unsurpassed influence on design and is clearly apparent in Scandinavian rug design.
Scandinavian rugs and most importantly Swedish Rugs have become known for intricate weaving techniques, exceptional color palettes and most importantly their compatibility with modern and also contemporary interiors. Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom is widely recognized as one of the most influential Designers and Weavers of Swedish rugs establishing her own company in 1919. Barbro Nilsson became the director and chief designer of the company in 1942 after Marta Maas-Fjetterstroms death the year before. Other important designers of Swedish rugs in the mid century include Ingrid Dessau, Marin Hemmingson, Sigvard Bernadotte, Brita Grahn, Edna Martin and Viola Grasten. All of whom were designing throughout the mid 20th century and even later. Vintage carpets have gained in popularity for designers due to their frequently minimalistic designs and muted color palettes.
Rug production in China during this period was clearly influenced by the Art Deco rugs being produced in France. Chinese Deco rugs tend to be more floral than geometric but both styles were made. They do appear to have an Asian influence as well particularly in the use of colors and occasionally bamboo vines and leaves but are clearly modern in the scale of the design.
Also included in the vintage rugs category are Moroccan rugs which have tribal patterns that are graphic and geometric. Moroccan rug motifs influenced designers such as Ivan Da Silva Bruhn and Vladimir Boberman. American Interior Designer Francis Elkins used them in some of her most notable interiors in the 1930's and 1940's.
Simultaneously the modernist movement was growing in the United States and was widely accepted here probably as a result of major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Metropolitan Museum. Some of the most notable textile and rug designers working in the United States included Donald Desky, Stanislav V'Soske, Eliel Saarinen, Loja Saarinen (the mother of Eero Saarinen) and Ruth Reeves. After the close of the Bauhaus school many of the architects and designers associated with the school immigrated to The United States including Josef and Anni Albers.