Antique Rugs > News > Behind the Rug Design: Doris Leslie Blau

Behind the Rug Design: Doris Leslie Blau

Since he was a young boy, Nader Bolour has immersed himself into the world of rugs. He got his start by washing and vacuuming rugs and carpets in his father’s shop and was immediately in awe by what he was seeing. Once he realized his passion for rugs, he purchased Doris Leslie Blau and has been committed to searching for the most unusual and striking antique and vintage rugs and carpets as well as having a beautiful collection of samples for customization and contemporary rugs.

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1. & 2. “This is our showroom on the Upper East Side—we’ve got 10,000 square feet combined on one floor. Usually you don’t get such wide buildings in this neighborhood, so we’re lucky. We didn’t have to do much to the space; we loved the loft-like feeling, so we kept it very raw. The rugs are the focus, not the room. On a busy day we might open as many as 50 rugs for clients.”

3. “This is the interior designer Samuel Botero in our showroom, sitting on a rug his clients bought, picking fabrics that match the carpet. Designers like to do this in our showroom rather than their own office because we have such amazing natural light. People come here to have fun; they feel comfortable.”

4. & 5. “We did these photos for ads in Elle Décor and Architectural Digest a few years ago, to show how rugs can be seen in different settings. It got peoples’ attention. We sold a $96,000 late 19th-century Chinese rug because of that tattoo ad. Even though they’re precious, we don’t take our rugs so seriously. They’ve lasted 100 years, they’ll last another 100 years. A kid biking on it isn’t going to kill it. It’s our way of saying: The world is changing, the world of decoration is changing, younger people have more power now—and we’re part of that world.”

6. “With new rugs, the trend is definitely toward using different textures to create an eclectic element—the more unusual and unexpected, the better. The texture we’ve used a lot recently is hemp with silk, which is kind of unheard-of in the industry. We’re also using metal thread with wool. Our 737E rug is wool, cotton, and silk; the wool is the flat-weave background, cotton is the pile weave, and silk is the colorful pile weave. These three different textures give a lot of body to the rug. This is best used in a very luxurious, formal space. I can see it in a drawing room of an English manor house.”

7. “Being on the cutting edge is very important to our company—we want to stand out as being different than everyone else. That’s what our brand has been based on for the past 48 years, and what designers are always on the lookout for. Part of that for us is always experimenting with new materials. Banana and bamboo fibers have been around for a while; I think aloe is the next step. Our Dynasty rug is silk and aloe, and the aloe fiber gives it a very luxurious, silky feeling. Next we’re focusing on leather, in very unusual colors that haven’t been done by our competitors. Our rugs always follow fashion. Last year’s big color was orange. This year it’s burgundy, so we’ll do ten shades of burgundy.”

8. “Susan, who works for my company, took this photo on her most recent trip to Nepal. It shows women sorting out different dye lots, both wool and silk, and separating the good from the bad. We work closely with three factories in Nepal, including one that works only for us, which ensures we have great quality control. It also means they understand that their growth depends on our growth. So they will work over the weekends to get a rug to us—even a big rug they can get to us in 45 days!”

9. & 10.  “Here are a couple contemporary rugs inspired by older designs. For the first one on the left, the 3464, we blew up the design elements on some Viennese secessionist movement fabric and made it into a twelve-by-ten-foot silk rug. It’s most commonly used in dining rooms, where the border is the most important. The rug on the right, the N10083, was inspired by a vintage Swedish rug. We recently custom-made this for a huge Upper East Side mansion, for the gentleman’s cigar room—imagine cognac with a cigar; the colors are very befitting.”

11. “I look at a lot of magazines. The rooms without carpets are almost soulless, even those by amazing decorators. Rugs are what make the whole room. Your eye always goes from low to high—you look at floor first. The rug should always be the start, the nucleus of a room. As far as decorating advice, my recommendation is that the best of everything works together. The best of neoclassical can work with best of deco. An 18th-century fabric can go with a modern carpet. It’s all about quality; great quality things always work together beautifully.”