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The art deco style dominated the worlds of art and design during the 1920s and 30s. This style, popularized as the result of the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris, was used in everything from architectural design to rug design. Art deco rugs were produced in many different countries, and many of these rugs used designs heavily influenced by cubism and other modern art. While these art deco rugs were true to the movement's style, they didn't capture the imagination of the rug-buying public in the same way as the Chinese art deco rugs of the same time period. The Chinese art deco rugs were produced by American entrepreneurs living in China, and had a distinctive style which combined Chinese rug design with the ideals of the art deco movement.
There are two American names which are most closely associated with the Chinese art deco rugs produced in the 1920s and 30s. The first of these was Helen Fette, a missionary who started selling rugs as a way of raising money to help famine relief efforts in China. She later partnered with Li Meng Shu, a Chinese rug manufacturer. Together they formed the Fette-Li rug manufacturing company, becoming the biggest rug manufacturer in the Peking area. However, even Helen Fette's impressive efforts didn't have as much impact as those of American Walter Nichols. His name has become synonymous with Chinese art deco rugs, to the point where some people refer to them as "Nichols rugs" no matter who manufactured them. His company produced rugs using the Tientsin rug weaving method, which resulted in a denser, thicker, stiffer rug with a smooth, almost plush surface. Nichols had extensive knowledge of wool from his days as a wool grader, and used only the best quality wool for his rugs. His rugs were an enormous hit throughout the world.
Stylistically, the big draw of Chinese art deco rugs was their combination of Chinese motifs with new color combinations that had never been seen before. Traditionally, Chinese rugs tended to use blues, yellows, reds, and ivories. Chinese art deco rugs used colors such as fuchsia, green, turquoise, and gold. Chinese motifs such as vases, pagodas, bamboo, lanterns, trees, flowers and dragons were still present, but were made more prominent both in size and color. The proportions and symmetry normally used in Chinese rugs were ignored in favor of an entirely new sensibility. In short, Chinese art deco rugs freely borrowed from Chinese traditions to create an entirely new kind of rug for Western consumers.
Chinese art deco rugs, like all art deco rugs, are very rare and extremely valuable. If you own a genuine Chinese art deco rug, you own a piece of rug history. Because your rug is irreplaceable, you must care for it through regular cleaning and occasional restoration as damage occurs. The professionals at Oriental Rug Care NY have a thorough understanding and appreciation of Chinese art deco rugs. We know the best methods to use whether you need a simple rug cleaning or a more complicated and delicate restoration. Our technicians go through an 18-month training process and have knowledge of all types of Oriental rugs, including Chinese art deco rugs. If you own a Chinese art deco rug, you can trust Oriental Rug Care NY with all your rug care needs.
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