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Da Silva Bruhns – the Pioneer of Art Deco Rugs

Art Deco movement emerged in 1920s and a couple of years later became a fashionable style in Europe and the United States. Alternatively called Style Moderne, Art Deco had a great impact on the carpet industry, being a source of inspiration for the new designs. Modern and figurative motifs superseded the floral ones, giving the whole composition the touch of abstractionism.

The designs of Art Deco rugs can be characterized by a considerable doze of experimentation as far as colors and patterns are concerned. One can recognize an Art Deco rug looking at a bold color palette and angular lines that decorate it. It’s more about simple, geometric patterns than abundant ornamentation.

One of the most prominent European carpet designers – Ivan Da Silva Bruhns – is associated with Art Deco style. Born in 1881 in France, Bruhns had Brazilian parents, and the Pre-Columbian influences can be noticed in his works. Bruhns was initially planning a career in medicine, being an army doctor during the First World War. Nevertheless, he had always been engrossed in arts, especially in painting. Eventually, in 1920 or so, he decided to forget about medicine, and focus on designing carpets. He drew the inspiration from various sources, which led to the creation of eclectic, thus highly intriguing style. Da Silva Bruhns devoted himself to the design and manufacture of rugs exclusively, and it cannot be denied that he became very successful in it. His early designs had been influenced by Berber rugs (hand-woven carpets made by Berber people of North Africa) that he saw at some exhibitions, as well as African textiles and pre-Columbian artefacts. Before the Art Deco period, his carpets exhibited the influence of Cubism, Aztec-inspired motifs are also worth mentioning. Cubist elements can be especially noticed in the projects of rugs for the palace of Maharaja of Indore. His Art Deco carpets, on the other hand, were adorned with geometric shapes, such as circles and stripes in natural, harmonious color palette.

Da Silva Bruhns co-operated with various notable designers, including Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Louis Majorelle, Jacques Dunand and Jules Leleu. Not only did they decorate the interiors for famous people but also furnish embassies, reception rooms or deluxe hotels. In their projects, they always use Bruhns’ carpets, to finish the whole composition. Bruhns was a chief designer at the Leleu’s firm. In 1925, he set up his own business in the Paris suburb Savigny-sur-Orge. Following the architectural logic, he designed the rugs on a flat plane, without perspective and shading. He used the Savonnerie knotted pile technique.

Da Silva Bruhns and his work had a great impact on young designers all over the world, who were trying to imitate the unique designs of their master. Some examples of carpets inspired by Bruhns’ style are given below.

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Source: 123 HALI – Carpet, Textile and Islamic Art