Arts & Entertainment » Art

'Art Interpreted' rug series is art you can walk on

By

By design, rugs are meant to be functional, the answer to a cold floor or a place to rest shoes.

But as functionality and art merge, rugs can be as much of an artist’s canvas as padding underfoot.

The concept is playing out at Oriental Rug Mart in Eastview Mall, where owner Reza Nejad Sattari has launched a rug series that blends contemporary art with ancient tradition.

Reza Nejad Sattari got the spark for turning art works into rugs while perusing a catalog of the colorful abstract and richly patterned paintings of the late French artist Paul Reynard. “I thought, ‘These are meant to be rugs,’” he said. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Reza Nejad Sattari got the spark for turning art works into rugs while perusing a catalog of the colorful abstract and richly patterned paintings of the late French artist Paul Reynard. “I thought, ‘These are meant to be rugs,’” he said.
“Art Interpreted” works with artists — including Rochester’s Albert Paley and Charles Brian Orner — to translate specific art works into fine rugs through a design collaboration with Sattari’s team and Looksee Rugs, a workshop of Tibetan refugee artisan weavers based in Nepal.

Sattari got the spark for the project while perusing a catalog of the colorful abstract and richly patterned paintings of the late French artist Paul Reynard.

“I thought, ‘These are meant  to be rugs,’” he said.



After connecting with Reynard’s widow and navigating French copyright law, Sattari gained exclusive rights to make rugs from 73 of Reynard’s paintings.

Sattari began the project in 2016, and has exclusive rights to reproduce some artworks by four artists. Each of the rugs are made to order and take three to four months to weave. But before that can begin, the design process can take up to two years, Sattari said.

Three area rugs created from monoprints by albert Paley displayed in the showroom at Oriental Rug Mart in Eastview Mall. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Three area rugs created from monoprints by albert Paley displayed in the showroom at Oriental Rug Mart in Eastview Mall.
When an artwork is chosen to be translated into rug form — whether it’s a painting, one of Paley’s monoprints, or a sculpture — the work is photographed in high resolution and the image is divided into a grid, with each square corresponding to square inches of the final rug. Then the original artist will consult back-and-forth with the weavers in Nepal to choose colors from a set of fabric dyes.

“They are artists and experts at weaving, and they can tell when something is not going to work for a rug,” Sattari said.

The wool or silk yarns that will be used in the rug are dyed, sent to Rochester for approval, and a series of ocean-crossing tweaks goes on for a while before weaving can begin.

The art that Sattari chooses to make into rugs tends toward abstract designs and bright colors, but also has a spiritual tone in both appearance and title.

The price tags for the rugs in the “Art Interpreted” series aside, Oriental Rug Mart carries rugs for many budgets. In addition to hand-knotted rugs that tend to fetch a higher price, there are machine-made rugs that retail for $200. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • The price tags for the rugs in the “Art Interpreted” series aside, Oriental Rug Mart carries rugs for many budgets. In addition to hand-knotted rugs that tend to fetch a higher price, there are machine-made rugs that retail for $200.
“Genesis of a Soul,” for example, is one of the art rugs patterned after a photograph by Orner. The image is a digitally manipulated macro photo of a detail on a stone that resembles a galaxy. The designs of each rug are scalable, and a rug at 6 feet by 10 feet retails for $7,295.

Rugs after Reynard’s paintings range from abstracted forms of temples and Mount Ararat to geometric patterns. Paley’s monoprints are 2D works made from layered shapes that closely resemble his steel sculptures. One, “The Poignant Ambience of Memory’s Lattice,” is listed as retailing for $34,560 for a 12-by-16 rug.

The price tags for the rugs in the “Art Interpreted” series aside, Oriental Rug Mart carries rugs for many budgets. In addition to hand-knotted rugs that tend to fetch a higher price, there are machine-made rugs that retail for $200.

The shop has long aimed to be an authority on area rugs, offering the full spectrum of services, from sales to cleaning and repairs and maintenance.

Oriental Rug Mart has long aimed to be an authority on area rugs, offering the full spectrum of services, from sales to cleaning and repairs and maintenance. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Oriental Rug Mart has long aimed to be an authority on area rugs, offering the full spectrum of services, from sales to cleaning and repairs and maintenance.
Sattari got his start in the rug business on East Avenue, where he set up his first shop in 1990. His connection to Rochester began back in his native Iran, where he worked as a distributor for Kodak. When he and his family moved to the U.S. in the late ’80s, he intended to work in photo finishing, but said it was tough to compete for work in Rochester.

He and his wife of 50 years, Jila Kalantari, opened Oriental Rug Mart, which moved to Eastview Mall in 2019.

Reza Sattari, owner of Oriental Rug Mart at Eastview Mall, got his start in the rug business on East Avenue, where he opened his first shop in 1990. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Reza Sattari, owner of Oriental Rug Mart at Eastview Mall, got his start in the rug business on East Avenue, where he opened his first shop in 1990.
The “Art Interpreted” rugs incorporate artist signatures into the knotted designs. Each individual rug is numbered according to its place in a limited run, with the number in the set determined by the artists.

Oriental Rug Mart has sold more than 35 rugs from the series. Sattari said that most buyers are fans of the artists, as he hasn’t advertised the series yet.
Reza Nejad Sattari's son and business partner, Hadi Sattari, says of the art-inspired rugs, "The only thing that will hurt the rugs is not using them." - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Reza Nejad Sattari's son and business partner, Hadi Sattari, says of the art-inspired rugs, "The only thing that will hurt the rugs is not using them."
The rugs are so beautiful that one may be tempted to step around their perimeter instead of walking over them. But Hadi Sattari, who is Reza Nejad Sattari’s son and co-worker at the shop, said that they are hardy and meant to be used as rugs.

“The only thing that will hurt the rugs,” he said, “is not using them.”

Learn more about the series at artinterpreted.com.

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at [email protected].