Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Ege Rya Photos and Advertising Campaigns from the 1960s and 1970s

Holiday post no. 2. As a library rat you might imagine that I have a preference for old black and white prints. However, that is not the case. In fact, if you search for information on carpets in publications from the 1960s and 1970s, you will notice an important change, as regular articles on the decorative arts that flourished between the wars have ceased. Here and there you could find something on the subject, but as a result of the lack of dedicated articles, you have to extend the field of research to include magazines that reported on fashion, architecture, design and even some general subjects. You will also have to reference advertising pages and general photos of interiors that often reproduced partial views of rugs, and hope that additional elements in the text would provide the designer's name, the size, the manufacturer, etc.

Partial back cover of an Ege Rya catalogue, conceived by Kaas & Martaeng Reklamebureau, Aarhus, Denmark, illustrating the Mexico design. The Carpet Index Library

Within this context, there is a company that managed to create a unique approach to their products. Its advertising and catalogues are difficult to find, but the image of the company has succeeded in remaining strong, even to this day in the United States. Ege is the company that I am referring to. Finding one of their rya catalogues is like finding a 'cherry on top of the cake' and a guaranteed pleasure.

Meanwhile I surf the web and progressively gather information regarding these rugs. It is thanks to the Internet that I was able to get into contact with a textile designer who worked for Ege. I was able to obtain additional information such as the name of the company which had produced the Ege advertisements with those iconic images. For at least a decade of selling their products, Ege managed to stick to the following basic triptych:

1) a rug is a world of the imagination.
2) a rug is a question of a woman's taste and conquest.
3) a rug is a design.

Each of these elements was represented differently over the years within a series of photos showing respectively:

1) a magnificent natural or fantastic environment (deserts, beaches, mountains, rivers, forests, etc).
2) a lone model splendidly dressed in haute couture garments.
3) a vividly portrayed coloured rug just lying on the floor, even if it was not completely and realistically portrayed.

The result, as you can see in the illustration shown, is remarkable. This Lunar-like landscape shares completely the spirit of the period that could be found in such British TV series as The Prisoner. The photos were used for their advertising campaigns, catalogues, or for illustrating press articles.

The carpet featured in the image is called Mexico and was produced by Egetaepper A/S, (Herning, Denmark), in four colours (red, orange, blue/green, brown), and in five sizes: 3' 1" x 5' 3", 4' 7" x 6' 7", 5' 7" x 7' 8", 6' 7" x 9' 1", 8' 2" x 11' 6". All were 100% wool.

Any contribution concerning the rya rugs, their designers, or the story of the company, is always welcome.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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