“I started in the rug industry in 1988 and by 1991, I was in a partnership at a trade showroom in downtown Toronto serving the A & D community,” says Michael Pourvakil, president and owner of Weavers Art.
He’s a veteran in the industry and knows of what he speaks. “By the mid 1990s, we opened our first retail/trade showroom on Yonge Street in Rosedale. We were exclusively carrying Persian rugs, as were most of the rug dealers of the time. However, buying and selling the same style of rugs wasn’t challenging or satisfying, so I decided to step outside of my comfort zone. I travelled to Pakistan, India and Nepal in search of new ideas and product lines. In 1998, we opened our trade-only showroom in Designers Walk. By this time we had created our own exclusive collections that were finely handwoven in Nepal.”
At that time, designers were specifically looking for Persian rugs, as that was the trend.
However, by exposing their clients to new ideas and designs, their mindsets slowly changed and they began appreciating the unique, award-winning designs they had to offer. “We began with Persian rugs then added decorative rugs with current colour palettes
which designers could easily incorporate into their projects,” Pourvakil explains. “We then
became a design house creating our own award-winning collections.”
As the use of technology increased and people had access to a broader selection Pourvakil realized that focusing only on their own collections would limit their ability to offer the best and the most diverse. “I began partnering with artists and rug designers from around the globe. We have collaborated with those in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, USA and of course Canada. We launched 10 new designs in 2017 as we teamed up with OCAD University students. We’ve also had the honour of working first hand with local artists Darlene Watson, Lorraine Tuson and Canada’s maven of interior design, Lori Morris of LMD in Toronto.”
In 2013, one of Canada’s top interior-design firms contacted them to produce a collection of rugs for the top two floors of a downtown skyscraper. They had 12 months to design, produce and complete the project. “However, by the time all the decision makers approved the drawings we only had five months remaining,” Pourvakil says. “The difficulty was with the main two oversized rugs of 16’ x 39’ and an unusually shaped rug that was 38’ x 27’. To make sure that we would meet the deadline, I conferred with our production team in Nepal as to whether they would be able to produce these hand-knotted masterpieces in time. They replied that they would need to have three sets of master weavers working on the looms in three shifts (24/7) to complete the job in time. This project was extremely stressful, as we had to have all the rugs installed by the company’s annual meeting. We received the carpets in time and installed the gorgeous rugs with one day to spare! In the end, I should say that it was worth the stress, as we learned how to manage large corporate jobs as well.”
As society has evolved, so have peoples’ tastes and lifestyles. “In the past people had very formal living rooms, whereas now family rooms, breakfast areas and kitchens have become one and are the heart of the home,” Pourvakil says. “This is where most people and their friends gather and enjoy each others company, hence the lifestyle has become more casual and comfortable. Our variety of designs and product lines easily coordinate with the lifestyles and budgets of today’s clients.”
And looking to the future? Pourvaikil has this to say: “For the past five to 10 years, designers and clients have been asking for neutral tones and simple designs. I foresee a move toward more patterns and mid-tone colour palettes. Also clients are more and more conscientious about the quality of the products they put in their homes. You can never go wrong with high-quality rugs with natural fibres. As English people would say, ‘We are not wealthy enough to buy cheap quality.’”