Textile Spotlight: Kilim
March 12, 2014
Today I’m continuing the Textile Series, and this month the spotlight is on one that dates back many centuries: the kilim patterns found in floor coverings and home accessories. Kilims differ from pile rugs because they are produced through a flatweaving technique that combines various colored wefts and warp wool threads and leaves no pile.
Kilim has a fascinating history, its origins dating back to 3000 BC, many scholars believe even earlier; like tapestries, woven kilims are one of the oldest textiles in history. Kilims are referred to as “slit woven” textiles, a technique of weaving that produces sharp geometric designs and symbols. They are produced by interweaving visible weft with invisible warp strands and are most often made of wool, though cotton and hemp threads are sometimes used.
Different kilims possess cultural meanings that change by region, and the colors and designs also change depending on where they originate. Some kilims are used as prayer rugs, others for decorative purposes. The popularity of kilim is growing in the West as we look to more exotic ways to decorate our homes with textiles from across the globe.
amber lewis – the glitter guide
Kilims are most often used as rugs, but also like a fabric to upholster ottomans or benches, or as a decorative pillow cover. While you can still find many suppliers of vintage rugs and pillow covers, retailers are also producing their own versions as the appeal of kilim grows.
Despite their centuries old origins, kilim rugs and pillows are surging in popularity all over the world and popping up everywhere in magazines and design blogs. Unique or vintage kilims have become collectibles in recent years and depending on their quality and history, can command very high prices.
Kilim rugs often possess tribal symbols with various meanings and some are woven with altar designs for the express purpose of use as a prayer rug.
Kilim floor coverings are available in brightly colored or earth tone colorways – the appeal is the medley of interwoven geometric motifs throughout. For pattern lovers, a kilim offers an alternative to permanent patterned tile floors and a way to bring warmth to a space along with a global vibe.
If you’re looking for a great kilim, take a peek at these below (some vintage included):
toulouse, furbish studio / kilim runner, le souk/ canyon kilim, dash & albert / tribal turkish pillow cover, sukan on etsy / gianna kilim, pottery barn / vintage kilim cover, pillow me on etsy / turkish blue rug
This article is an interesting read about the process of buying a kilim rug in Istanbul’s Grand Market, an experience on my design bucket list. Are you a fan of kilim rugs? Did you own one before they became trendy?