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Weaving a mark: The history behind Mayfair's rug specialist Sahrai

Rug specialist Sahrai opened its doors on Brook Street this year, ready to bring artistic inspiration to Mayfair’s interiors. Luxury London delves into the company’s centuries-old heritage

Walking into Sahrai’s showroom, where Brook Street meets Davies Street, is like entering an art gallery: rugs are hung from the walls and displayed in the windows like paintings. Naturally, they are also on the floor, although instinct is to hop around the edge rather than tread over the middle (unavoidable, as it turns out).

Sahrai is a centuries-old, family-run carpet company, directed by siblings Rana and Ramine Sahrai. Its headquarters are in Milan, but “over the past decades, we’ve been building relationships with some of the most prestigious interior designers in London”, says Ramine. And so, earlier this year, doors were opened in Mayfair, inviting the area’s international clientele to discover the firm’s collections.

Each rug is created in Sahrai’s private ateliers by craftsmen who go through more than 100 steps: from material and colour selection, spinning wool to working on the warp and the weft. Hand-knotting a rug can take from four to more than 36 months, depending on its size and the density of the knots. “That’s why they are considered real works of art,” say Ramine and Rana. The atelier uses a variety of Italian silks, velvets, cottons, linens and jacquard patterns.

Sahrai’s expertise dates back to 1830 in Tehran, when the family’s forebears searched Persia and the Caucasus for carpets to sell at the old bazaars. Nearly two centuries later, the company offers contemporary collections that are designed in Italy, and custom-made rugs to suit each client’s desired shape, dimension, texture and colour scheme. The process might begin with a visit to the Mayfair showroom to discuss a project, and take inspiration from the many rolls of carpet hidden just out of view.

“Our aim is to interpret the client’s request into the rugs of their dreams, often going beyond expectation,” says Ramine.

“Over the past two decades we have combined our expertise in oriental carpet weaving with the sophisticated design and originality of Western interiors, pushing the boundaries between classical and contemporary.”

One of the company’s most novel achievements is Sparkles, a collection created with Swarovski crystals embedded into the top layer of its rugs. The stones create starry skies on dark or dusky backgrounds, or when set in lines, almost resemble a twinkling cityscape at night.

Elsewhere, this year’s collections include a series of rugs with animal prints and exotic leaves from tropical rainforests. “Lately our attention has been directed towards nature and the wonders of the natural world,” says Rana. “Our 2017 collections relate to the way surfaces react to the passage of time,” she continues, referring to a texture that mimics the effect of oxidation. 

On 19 September, in time for London Design Festival, Sahrai will unveil Cave, a collection by Italian designer Marco Piva. Cave will draw on marble: its grain and colour, translated into woven form.

Sahrai’s creations can be found in private homes the world over, as well as a number of prestigious locales: the royal box at the Scala Opera House, the Ritz Paris, Palazzo Fendi, Japan’s Imperial Palace and the Royal Palace of Kuwait among them. Head to Brook Street, and follow the lead of emirs and emperors.

The Noor collection

These contemporary handmade rugs are designed in Italy. This chic collection runs the gamut of patterns: from wildlife (a pair of yellow panther’s eyes emerging from a black background; zebras; owls) to the geometric (stars, stripes) and faded damask.

From £9,000

The Parsa collection

As Sahrai describes, hand-knotted Parsa rugs bring Persian tradition into the modern age, celebrating the company’s roots and the beauty of antiquity. Sahrai’s design studio has revisited classic Persian patterns: delicate motifs in mottled pastel colours.

From £17,000

The Place Vendôme collection

There are plenty of cream and gold – practically gilded – designs in this haute couture French selection, inspired by Aubusson and Savonnerie designs. Sometimes Art Noveau, sometimes Baroque, this collection sits well in both modern and traditionalist interiors.

From £11,250

The Taj Mahal collection

Indian glamour comes in the form of large rectangular designs and often bold colours. This collection takes its cues from the maharajas’ ancient palaces. Each piece is created following traditional methods, knotted by hand in high quality wool and silk combinations.

From £15,000

62-64 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 5DX, sahrai.com