The Journey of a Rug: interview with Atelier Kairos designers

155.000 nods per square metre. 30 artisans from Nepal working at a single piece. 600 colours and a dozen of natural fibres (and that implies wool, hemp and silk). A sustainable process of making of the carpets. Two talented and enthusiastic designers that transformed a brand into a journey intro the rugs wonderland. I talked with Horia Bercă and Sorin Urziceanu, the duo behind Atelier Kairos about the beginnings of their brand and about the beauty that could be found… on everyone’s floors. 

Instagram: @atelier.kairos

How and when was the starting point for the story of your brand? Why an interior design business? 

Our friendship started 30 years back, in our childhood, and after a period spent abroad by both of us, we reconnected back in Romania venturing in the interior design of Horia’s apartment. Sorin has a background in architecture and was already working in the interior architecture field.

We wanted to create something special for the apartment design with custom made pieces of furniture and decorations. We then realized that we cannot find on the market what we were looking for in terms of high quality rugs and contemporary designs and that the local market offers a poor range of choices, low quality materials and dull designs. We decided to create one unique piece to adjust with the interior of the project and this is how the “journey of a rug” started.

“Wabi-Sabi” rug is inspired by the Japanesse concept wabi-sabi, “the beauty of the imperfection” and it is associated with peace, serenity and progress. 

How did you choose the place to make your products? It had to do with the concept, with the people, with the love for a certain area or traditions? 

We continued to explore and document on how we can translate the idea of creating a rug into reality. By visiting design fairs and exhibitions in Europe we soon realized that the well established high-end rug brands are working with workshops from Nepal in the execution process of handmade rugs. Going further, we understood that Nepal has a long tradition that dates back in centuries in creating high quality handmade rugs, in hand-knotted technique, being recognized worldwide as a leading country in the industry.

By coincidence or not, we were already familiar with Nepal since 2014, while engaging on a trip in the Himalaya Mountains and developed a love for the people, the landscape and their culture. We got back to Nepal in the spring of 2019 to find the right partner for us and to dive more into the craftsmanship of hand-knotted rugs and the life of the artisans.

“Carousel” rug is an homage to optimism and hope. 

Do you remember the first object branded with your logo? What was it?

We clearly remember our first rug that Sorin designed: our Aventurine rug in shades of green. It was a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction seeing it realized, a couple of months after the design concept. Previous to Aventurine rug, we experimented a lot with techniques, colors and materials and created several samples for understanding the possibilities and limitations of the craftsmanship. We look for creating designs that blend into the craftsmanship, turning into a visual and tactile experience.

“Aventurine” rug is inspired by the special stone with the same name – “personal development stone”.

The 5 elements of one interior design object that makes it unique, unforgettable and just perfect to be passed to the next generations? 

  • Design – a timeless design doesn’t follow the trends, it transcends the trends. 
  • Craftsmanship – a handmade process adds soul to the finished product, making it therefore unique.
  • Quality – Natural materials, attention to details, durability.  
  • Emotion – Having the capacity to send an emotion, making it relatable with the end user.
  • Sustainability – A sustainable and ethical execution process and care about the environment.

It’s a brand #madeInRo by heart but it is universal by clients and spirit. What’s your biggest market and the most loyal customers? 

We are still a young brand but we have high aspirations. Our focus is at first to create awareness on the local market and to share as much as possible about the incredible craftsmanship that stands behind the process of making our rugs. We started collaborations with architects and designers and we look at creating rugs that are more than just floor coverings, but statement pieces that have the power to transform an interior space.
Each of our rugs is unique and can be customized in size, colors and materials with the end client playing an active role in making these choices from the very beginning.

Wabi-Sabi rug

What is the biggest challenge for a Romanian interior design brand in 2021? 

Probably the biggest challenge in 2021 is given by the pandemic context, having to adjust to a new way of doing things. On one hand, it created an accelerating process to a more digital world, but on the other hand, it became more difficult for people to meet in person, to participate in exhibitions and fairs and to feel, touch and relate to the products they buy. Our rugs are best experienced physically. Touching them, feeling the softness of the wool, the shades of the silk, the vibrant colors, bring a totally different experience than just seeing them in a picture.

As a young brand, we also understood that we cannot assume that we can do everything by ourselves and that we need to trust and collaborate with specialists in different fields for a healthy development.

The next step for your brand will be… 

Our plan is to continue launching new collections and to have collaboration with more well established architects/designers but also with young and talented individuals. We are also looking to create partnerships with international design galleries and have a presence on a global market, while strengthening our position on the local market. 

Atelier Kairos – Horia Bercă & Sorin Urziceanu


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