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German Rug Designer Creates Works of Art Knot by Knot

Jürgen Dahlmanns rugs

Photo by Laurie Black / Rug Star Portland

Jürgen Dahlmanns brings the ancient techniques of hand-knotted rug-making into the 21st Century with his contemporary designs.

Jürgen Dahlmanns is a self-described rug addict. “My team and I, we are 100-percent dedicated rug addicts. Our rugs are naughty and smart, the same combination we like in people,” he quips. As creator and head designer of Berlin-based Rug Star, Dahlmanns has developed a worldwide following for his contemporary hand-knotted Tibetan and Persian rugs.

“A rug is the most liberal form of creating a space within a space without erecting obstacles,” he says. “I treat a carpet as it was originally intended, as a piece of room-creating furniture.” He points out that a rug tells a guest “where we rest and where we walk.”

Jürgen Dahlmanns Rug Designs

Photo by Michael Tewes / Rug Star Berlin

Dahlmanns’ eye for design may have first been sparked during his upbringing. “I grew up with parents who were, at least from a young boy’s point of view, a couple of wild things. Flower Power was more than just a fashion statement to them. It became their way of life,” he says. “Looking back, I’ll be forever indebted to my parents for having had the most loving and colorful childhood that other children could only dream of.”

Jürgen Dahlmanns pink rug

Photo by Michael Tewes / Rug Star Berlin

After high school, Dahlmanns studied political science, then switched majors. He graduated with a degree in architecture and for three years worked on one of Vienna’s largest museums. It was during this time that he came upon his first Tibetan rug in Nepal. “That was the moment when I turned rug addict,” he recalls.

Jürgen Dahlmanns rug designer

Guido Castagnoli

In the years that followed, his interest in handcrafted rugs blossomed and took him to back to Nepal and China on numerous occasions. “I simply needed to gather all there was to know about those ancient methods of turning wool into this product that I had begun to regard as magical. I returned to Berlin with the idea of one day producing my own rug.”

Although Dahlmanns continued to work as an architect, ethic concerns in his profession eventually drove him away, and at the age of 35, he left corporate life and decided to turn his passion for rug making into a business. Rug Star was founded in 2002, and the designer says he has never looked back.

Jürgen Dahlmanns rug designer

Photo by Michael Tewes / Rug Star Berlin

Today, the company manufactures its carpets in Nepal and India, using modern interpretations of traditional applications. Since all the rugs are handmade, it can take up to five months to complete a single piece. Dahlmann says it’s important that everyone on the loom is working together in harmony, otherwise you’ll see disharmony in the work. But Dahlmanns, who continually pushes the boundaries of blending fabrics and colors on the loom, seems to thrive on the highly technical and complex process, and his unconventional use of color, gradation, movement and patterning have proved to resonate with his high-end international clientele.

rug by Jürgen Dahlmanns

Photo by Michael Tewes / Rug Star Berlin

Rug Star currently has stores in Augsburg, Zurich, Berlin and Beijing, as well as retail partners around the world, including Scottsdale-based David E. Adler Inc. Fine Rugs. The designer recently spent a week with Adler while his rugs were being photographed in several Arizona residences. “I always photograph my pieces in someone’s home, because I want it to look real not staged. I also wanted to study the light and architecture of the Southwest to have a better understanding of my clientele,” Dahlmanns explains.

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butterflies rug design by Jürgen Dahlmanns

So how does the ancient art of rug-making fit into the 21st Century? “The carpet, the hand-knotted rug in particular, is part of the modern trend of surrounding ourselves with things that have character,” says the designer. “I think we’ve lost something over time as family rituals have begun to fade. People are so used to moving fast that they don’t sit down as a family and enjoy a meal or connect with friends around a table set with finery.

modern rug design by Jürgen Dahlmanns

Photo by Michael Tewes / Rug Star Berlin

“When you surround yourself with quality and take the time to create an experience, like setting a table with the best China, you’re creating an experience and showing respect for others,” he continues. “You’re teaching your kids about beauty and how to take care of something special that will be passed on from generation to generation. There is a real yearning for things that can age with us and thus become more beautiful. Carpets are faces of the soul in our lives, and no home should be without them.”

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