HIGH-TECH SPECS

by ALAENA HOSTETTER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

LOCATED IN THE UPSCALE Bal Harbour Shops near Miami’s North Beach, Designer Rug Center offers a perfect blend of old and new. Its massive inventory includes everything from museum-quality pieces dating to the 17th century to contemporary rugs that were created just this month.

Additionally, the business owners join generations-worth of knowledge about the rug trade with tech-savvy tools to enhance customer experience when shopping and designing custom pieces.

“My father is third generation in the rug business, and I’m fourth generation,” says Shima Amini-Kutuchief, who spearheads the marketing and technologically advanced aspects of her family’s business. Amini-Kutuchief’s father, Nader Amini, grew up in Iran and was steeped in rug culture. “He would watch his mother and grandmother hand make rugs, and he also helped out at his uncle’s rug gallery in Iran from a young age,” Amini-Kutuchief says.

Over the decades, Amini has honed his eye and can decipher from which village a rug hails and its age just by looking at its pattern. His brain also serves as a card catalog for the company’s giant library of inventory housed in its 5,000-square-foot Miami showroom and another 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Fort Lauderdale, which is open by appointment. “It’s truly remarkable that he can remember all of that,” says Amini-Kutuchief.

Amini’s expertise also comes in handy in the restoration of antique rugs, a service offered by Designer Rug Center. “Each rug is constructed differently, depending on where it’s from,” explains Amini-Kutuchief. “We also have antique wool to use in the restoration, so the rug doesn’t lose its value.”

That incredible foundation of knowledge, paired with the tech tools at Designer Rug Center’s disposal, provides an unstoppable one-two punch in the saturated marketplace of rug showrooms.

“We have a program that’s like a cross between Photoshop and Illustrator,” says Amini-Kutuchief. “We create designs and plug in colors, so clients and designers can see what the finished rug will look like.”

Without the software, buyers have only an idea of the finished product. “This program has been a complete game changer,” Amini-Kutuchief says. With this software in hand, she can also show clients what the rug will look like in situ. “I can take a picture of their room and place the rug rendering in the room under their furniture, so they see what it looks like in their house.”

The software has allowed Designer Rug Center to get a lot more creative. “We’re doing exotic shapes for homes and yachts,” says Amini-Kutuchief. Designer Rug Center also custom designs enormous “palace-sized” rugs in any dimension for hotels and large corporate venues. “We even designed a rug to encircle a client’s bathtub. The sky is the limit!”

After creating the design mock-up, Designer Rug Center sends the specs to its weavers in the Far East, whom it contracts directly to fulfill the orders. “There are no middlemen in the process. I communicate with my weavers daily,” she says.

The direct sourcing drastically cuts down on the wait time for a custom rug, from the typical four to six months in the industry to a mere six to eight weeks with Designer Rug Center.

For clients and designers who would rather buy a design off the floor, Designer Rug Center offers contemporary and modern abstract designs, plus traditional and transitional pieces. “We have something for everybody,” Amini-Kutuchief says. The company even has museum-quality collector’s items, including a 17th-century French tapestry and 17th-century Persian rugs. “My  father is a collector of very rare pieces,” she adds.

Designer Rug Center offers an array of services beyond the restoration and cleaning offered by many of its competitors. There’s a complimentary try-before-you-buy program, which involves bringing rugs to a customer’s house so they can see what each looks like in their home. Designer Rug Center offers a trade-in program for people who want a different rug because they redecorated or moved. The Center can also size down a beloved rug to fit new dimensions.

Perhaps most intriguing for those in the trade, Designer Rug Center offers incentives to designers who bring their clients’ business there. “We’ll extend a discount to the client and write a check to the designer for a percentage of the sale,” says Amini-Kutuchief.

A handmade rug is an investment, and Designer Rug Center takes that responsibility seriously. “We want to make sure our customers are happy and that their rugs hold their value,” she says.

With that mind-set and the services offered to keep rugs in top shape, Designer Rug Center has ensured that their pieces will be passed down for generations.

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Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment  and food.