Triumph Of The Arts – The Charlotte Rug Gallery Story

Charlotte Rug Gallery
Charlotte Rug Gallery

The art of rug making has a long and extensive history,” says Vahid Zahabiuon, owner and operator of the Charlotte Rug Gallery.  “They originated in Persia (Iran), Turkey, the Caucasus, and France” and the earliest known rug of this type dates back nearly 2500 years. Alexander The Great was enamored with Persian rugs; imperial palaces were draped with them; fine rugs have even been found preserved in tombs of Princes and Kings. Having been around for thousands of years, the Persian, Oriental, and Caucasian rugs are hand-knotted or hand-woven using wool, cotton, or silk.  The dyes come from organic materials; however, in order to produce stronger tones such as fuchsia or bright orange, synthetic dyes are utilized.  “There are distinctive differences between hand-knotted and hand-woven rugs,” explains Vahid.  “Hand-knotted rugs are painstakingly created using thousands or even millions of individual short length pieces of yard tied around an internal structure called the warp while hand-woven rugs are created by weaving various colored yarn between a warp and weft producing a flat weave with little to no pile.” The process of making a fine rug is beyond tedious but the time, attention-to-detail, and color make it an art form all to its own.

Vahid’s extensive knowledge comes from having been raised around the art of old and fine rugs.  He grew up in Iran’s Isfahan, a 5,000 year old city famous for its rug making.  “Summer time, I worked with my Dad,” says Vahid.  While working with his father, Vahid was taught the importance of preserving ones heritage and culture.  That is exactly what he is doing with his business, Charlotte Rug Gallery. “I’m third generation of old and fine rug makers.  I emphasize the word fine because there is a big difference between fine rugs and low quality ones which I call commercial products.”  

Vahid and Leila Zahabiuon
Vahid and Leila Zahabiuon

After working with his father and attending school, Vahid moved to Europe and lived there until he received a job offer from an old friend in the United States who needed his help. His friend needed someone to help manage a rug showroom in Atlanta and Vahid obliged.  Then in 2001, an opportunity opened up in Myers Park Shopping Center, and Vahid and his wife decided to move to the Queen City. This opportunity was short lived, and because of the failing economy, the company he moved to Charlotte for decided to close their location.  Vahid and his wife decided to stay.  “This was a very difficult and challenging decision,” he says.  “But after talking with my wife–my partner and a great source of encouragement– we stayed, and I opened my own showroom, the Charlotte Rug Gallery.  I’ve been here in the same location now for 13 years.” His knowledge of the industry combined with his friendly demeanor; a huge inventory of some of the best rugs in the world; and a shop featuring a welcoming atmosphere reminiscent of an art gallery have helped him sustain his business through the years. He and his family have endured two rather difficult recessions and recoveries, both of which majorly impacted the home industry, and yet they are still here, doing what they are good at, what they love. Vahid truly feels blessed.

The Charlotte Rug Gallery sells a variety of antique hand-knotted, semi-antique, and new rugs that Vahid hand selects. “Your eye has to be trained to follow good old things,” says Vahid.  “When I shop for rugs, I always consider a few factors, such as age, condition, coloration, and quality.  For the showroom, I chase new and old decorative rugs, so color is an important factor.  If I am shopping for myself, I look for unique and remarkable good quality rugs, as well as old ones in good condition but the color is not as important.”  

“Most people are looking for inexpensive rugs,” says Vahid.   For him, this is painful.  “When you grow up with fine rugs, it hurts to see the market loaded with cheap, low quality, commercial rugs.  There is a lack of understanding and knowledge.  Unfortunately, many people can’t decipher between good and bad rugs.”  That’s where Vahid comes in and noone takes pleasure in offering his clients good quality rugs like he does.  “It’s my name, my reputation on the line, so I won’t compromise and sell low quality rugs.  I’ve worked very hard and I won’t jeopardize my reputation under any circumstance.  When you have knowledge about what you’re doing, it is your greatest asset,” says Vahid.  

Vahid considers himself fortunate to have worked with many fine designers who have taught him a lot and, likewise, he enjoys sharing his passion for the fine art of rug making with anyone who wants to learn.  The Charlotte Rug Gallery carries mostly one-of-a-kind recreation rugs made from 100% natural dye and very fine wool.  “I keep to my principles,” says Vahid, “selling the best of the best, new or old. It may cost more, but it’s a great investment, the kind of investment that doesn’t come with regrets.  Rugs play a big part in balancing everything in your house…color, proportion, scale, light, and art and the rug is the focal point that warms up the room and the house in general.  That’s why I offer my clients the opportunity to take the rug home for a few days, to see it during the night and day, to have a connection with the rug and then make a decision.”

The passion Vahid shows for antique Persian rugs is exemplary, his love and understanding of the art form: the basis for his gallery.  “It’s hundreds and thousands of years old” he says.” “That’s why it makes one feel so amazing and wonderful.  When you see and own an old rug, you own a piece of history.”

To learn more about the Charlotte Rug Gallery and the history of rug making visit www.charlottteruggallery.com.