Engineer Matt Esfahani got his start in high-end rugs in an unexpected way: his wife, Jennifer.
On their travels abroad, the couple made a hobby of visiting villages and buying textiles. Initially, she was the more interested. But little by little, as the collection grew, Esfahani began to appreciate textiles as well.
"Originally it was tribal pieces and nomadic items, like saddle bags," Esfahani tells CultureMap, but the couple's collection eventually grew to include floor coverings and antique pieces.
The Esfahanis discovered that their hobby was a lucrative but ultimately unsustainable venture — there are only so many antique rugs in decent shape, and few are appropriately dimensioned for Texas-sized homes — so they got into the production end of the business, working with weavers in Egypt and Nepal to create custom designs to sell at Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries.
Since 1980, the original River Oaks showroom has grown to a half-dozen locations throughout the United States. Matt Camron's offerings have also branched into contemporary designs, reproductions of antiques from centuries past, flat weaves and over-dyed rugs utilizing wool, silk, bamboo, hemp and other materials and sometimes working with local artists to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
Matt Camron is expanding the flat weave collection to designs that mimic traditional Swedish country rugs (inspired by a visit to Stockholm) and others that draw upon African patterns and colors, as well as more Navaho-inspired pieces.
All this is in addition to one of the most extensive collections of antique kilims in the nation, an antique furniture store in Dallas and involvement in the Islamic arts section at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Matt Esfahani's daughter, Sarah, joined the family business in the fall of 2009 as creative director, bringing a fresh look and aesthetic to the company. Though petite and high-heeled, she can lift heavy carpets with ease.
"I think I always knew that I was going to do this," says Sarah, who studied Business and Art History at Tulane University and worked as a consultant in LA before returning to Houston.
In August, Sarah Esfahani launched a line of flat-woven wool rugs for the Matt Camron collection, invigorating old methods of kilim weaving with modern designs, geometric shapes and bright shades. Standard-sized rugs are available in stock, but the rugs are also fully customizable — from dimensions to hue — and the turn-around is 12 weeks or less.
As this line gains success, Sarah Esfahani is expanding the flat weave collection to designs that mimic traditional Swedish country rugs (inspired by a visit to Stockholm) and others that draw upon African patterns and colors, as well as more Navaho-inspired pieces. She and Matt Esfahani are also in the design process for a forthcoming line of Moroccan-style rugs.
Matt Esfahani describes home decor trends as a pendulum, switching every few years and revisiting styles of the past. Sourcing fabric houses and working closely with customers, designers and producers, the father-daughter team is ahead of the trends, creating unique, lasting, quality floor coverings. The tradition is solid, and the future looks bright.
Visit the Matt Camron show room and headquarters at 2702 Sackett.