By Jacky Runice
Special to the Daily Herald
Whenever there's a "magic carpet" in a fable, fairy tale or film, you can bet it's not supposed to be made from nylon, polyester or acrylic. You don't think Aladdin took Princess Jasmine on a ride made of avocado green shag, do you?
Most people have a intuitive sense that a carpet constructed from natural materials like wool, cotton and silk would look and feel fabulous, which is why Oriental carpets, with their appealingly intricate designs and stunning colors, have been coveted choices in decor for millennia.
Prosperous people have collected and displayed Oriental and Persian rugs for centuries. Henry VIII, for example, collected Turkish rugs at a pace even greater than wives.
When Palatine's Rugport began selling handmade Oriental rugs and tapestries in 1979, collecting in the Midwest was just beginning to be popular, although decorators, hip to allure of a handmade rug for eons, waltzed in the shop regularly. Then the Great Recession of 2008, sparked by a rupture in real estate, resulted in many handmade carpet stores shuttering and big box furniture stores picking up the slack. Rugport, with its access to many of the best handmade rug makers on the planet, stayed safe in the niche and today stocks around 5,000 carpets at any given time.
Questions haven't differed much since 1979, according to Rugport's general manager, Amir Sultan. "People want to know if some carpets are better than others based upon country of origin, like Morocco, Asia, Turkey," he said. "We have rugs from all over the world but specialize in Persian rugs because they are handmade by people who have it in their DNA, a tradition passed down through history."
Decorators rely on Rugport because they can come to one place and in one hour serve 10 clients.
"We have 5,000 rugs and even the best furniture store probably has less than 500 rugs," Sultan said. "We have leverage and more purchasing power and sell them by the thousands by retail and wholesale. So we have the best selection in terms of color, design, quality and prices and offer fresher merchandise than any other place. We sell 300 a month while a furniture store maybe sells 10, so our customers have access to the newest rugs."
Rugport offers the same variety and price to individuals so satisfaction is guaranteed whether you're out to buy a masterpiece or the perfect contemporary or traditional rug that fits the color and decor in your home.
Sultan said customers should know that quality is a given.
"Handmade rugs ensure quality," he said. "When you go to a Michelin-star restaurant, you know the quality of the food is already there and the only variables may be pace and ambience. It's the same with handmade carpets; the quality is ensured and so color, design and size are your choice."
Among the three, Sultan said size has become more significant. "People have become size conscious these days and they want a rug that fits the room perfectly. If you have square room, for example, we can alter the rug to the shape you may need."
A room-sized handmade rug can cost several thousand dollars and as much as $50,000, $60,000 or even $100,000. Even if you're buying one mainly for decor, it's an investment by default as labor and material costs increase.
"Twenty years ago, a handmade Persian rug that cost $1,000 -- today that same rug is $7,000, and that's wholesale, not retail," Sultan said. "People hand them down through generations because they are so durable and beautiful."
Rugport also restores, cleans and repairs handmade rugs so they can last a lifetime.
Handmade Oriental carpets are, indeed, functional art. The difference from other rugs is akin to purchasing an original painting or a print of that painting. Rugport has been a trusted source of artful carpets for more than 35 years, witnessing repeat customers over generations.
"We are mindful of the fact that we are part of the community," Sultan said. "Most customers who come here call us by our first names and show us pictures of their newborn children and grandchildren. We are friends in this close community and of course we offer the best price and quality of something treasured that will be passed down to their children."
For more information, call (847) 202-0600.
Originally posted in the Daily Herald.