Bod Cadry is a second-generation rug retailer, the son of Jacques Cadry – rug collector, perfumer and founder of Cadrys NSW. While Jan Kath comes from 3 generations of rug retailers in Germany. Bob was born to his love of rugs, but Jan Kath (pron: /jun/kut/) had to grow into his. Kath who has become a highly respected rug designer on the global scene, is best known for his minimalist style. All his rugs show intense attention to detail, and a dedication to the craftsmanship of hand-knotted wool and silk rugs.
But Jan Kath didn’t always want to work in rugs. He left his home and the family business in his early twenties to pursue travels of India as a ‘techno-hippy’. It was only by pure coincidence he found himself at the head of rug production facility at the tender age of 22.
After beach parties in Goa, and travels with friends, he did not expect to find himself taking over production at a rug factory, little more buying one. “I was thrown into the cool water, pretty much naïve, not knowing what I was in for,” says Jan Kath. Travelling India, Mongolia and Nepal, Jan Kath made met a fellow German and rug manufacturer who he ended up taking over from when he left to go back to Germany.
Over the next 5 years Kath learned the stock-in-trade of his family business first-hand. Working with Tibetan refugees in a 500 strong factory in Kathmandu he became intimately acquainted with the hand knotting and weaving techniques that create beautiful high quality rugs.
“For the first two years I developed very mainstream lines. I looked to the left and I looked to the right and tried to develop products that would sell. But when you swim in the mainstream, well … you can find that the air up there is pretty thin,” he says, remembering how in those few years he did not have much capital behind to employ designers, and had to learn to design his own.
“After a few years I realised that I need to try and develop my own handwriting,” he says. Over the next while Kath moved away from production and started taking design seriously, developing a distinctive style.
“Then about 8 years ago I started to really market rugs like a fashion label would. The whole of the PR started to work much like a perfume house or a fashion house would, with collections and themes drawing on the past traditions but connecting to them to current market.”
“This was quite a revolutionary approach for the rug industry,” says Kath. Now both man and the brand have built a strong following. Recent collections have include ‘Etched heritage’ which seeks to create an antique effect. ‘Sari’ which is made from vibrant recycled silk saris, and more contemporary ranges that give the effect of distress, acid etch or tagged layers. “I believe that as a good designer you should be able to express yourself in a different handwriting,” Kath says.
In Australia to launch his latest collection From Russia with Love (pictured below, with marketing above), the colour and the impact of these pseudo-historical rugs is somewhat a departure from his usually minimalist style.
“I was having dinner in a Russian restaurant in New York - it wasn’t a very expensive restaurant – and I got the idea for this Russian collection from the table cloths. They were these very bold, florally bordered things, like the girls wear on their heads and it all started from there,” Kath says. Fron this initial concept Kath went on to research the Romanov period of rug design and the Russian aristocrats affection for French needle point work and florals at the turn of the century. A few years later this vivid collection is born, a collection Kath says can act like a litte bit of medecine to warm up a very clinical interior.
“You can be cool but you don’t have to have cold feet,” says Kath insisting that rug fulfil a primal criteria for the home that makes them suitable for any house no matter how contemporary.
Jan Kath rugs are distributed exclusively at Cadrys throughout Australia. Cadrys stock an impressive and diverse selection of modern, decorative and traditional rugs. Their collection also comprises an unrivalled range of old, fine and antique collector’s pieces.
Learn more about Jan Kath here.
Visit Cadr’s and view the rugs ‘in the flesh’.