Carpet Connoiseurs

Custom-made area rugs aren’t simply functional, they’re must-have works of art.

By Andrea Ermter

When you have top interior designers on speed dial collaborating with your team, you know you’re tapping into something special. Just ask Studio 321B Ltd.’s Anthony Hellman. His high- end, one-of-a-kind, art-inspired area rugs are making a big impact on clients’ floors and in the industry. “Our rugs are statement pieces,” affirms Hellman, the owner and creative director of the Toronto-based boutique, loft-style space. “We work outside the box so each one is unique. It’s like buying a made-to-measure suit; it’s designed just for you.”

Bespoke area rugs are the heart and soul of Studio 321B’s flooring services. Vibrant and colourful options such as Alexander McQueen- like skulls, Banksy-influenced graffiti, Marilyn Monroe pop art and Rorschach-esque inkblots leap off the company portfolio’s pages. They’re also the latest must-have home decor item. And like all too-good-to-be- kept secrets, word has spread. Quickly. Homeowners are now cherry- picking designers who work with curated-flooring experts like Hellman, who then engages local artists to bring each client’s vision to life. “The designers come in with their ideas and we walk through the entire process with them making recommendations on fabrics, colours and products based on their clients’ lifestyle, space, furniture and needs,” he says. “We create beautiful pieces for living.”

With more than 30 years of experience, Hellman is a carpet connoisseur. Prioritizing quality and sustainability while being conscientious of his carbon footprint, his pieces are often crafted with fair trade materials and are made to last. Their texture, colour and warmth anchor and complement any room, adding an artistic element that can often be interchangeable with different rooms and seasons. “They make a room cozier, especially during our Canadian winters,” adds Hellman. “People are looking for comfort and a splash of subtle colours to make them feel better and to make the rooms in their home look and feel warmer and more welcoming.”

Artistic patterns and individuality aside, curated area rugs are also favoured for their versatility, functionality and durability with Berber, more often than not, being the number one fabric choice. “We Canadians love our beige,” laughs Hellman, attributing Berber’s popularity to its neutral hues. Typically, a light tan colour, often with flecks of grays, browns and darker shades of beige, Berber fits in well with most design styles. Its distinctive loop pile weave, originally inspired by and named after the Berber people of North Africa, has made it a favourite on floors from offices and basements to stairwells and statement rugs. Recognizing its value and demand, Hellman is giving the carpet an upgrade. “We’re knotting it with cable knots or bigger tufts for extra dimension and texture,” he says. “We’re also using a painting technique with splashes of reds, blues and any other colour. It’s not woven in, it’s custom painted overtop and then sealed in so that the colour is permanent. The rugs still have the neutrality of a Berber but with a twist.”

And this twist is what Hellman’s Studio 321B and its area rugs have become renowned and coveted for. “We don’t duplicate. Our rugs are as unique as our clients.”