A History of Karastan Rugs

The first Karastan Axminster rug came off an Eden loom at 2:02 p.m. on April 8, 1928. When we visited on Oct. 20, 2010, Karastan Original Collection rugs were still being made on the company’s Axminster looms.

Karastan 717 Multi Colored Panel Kirman

Karastan’s 50-color 717 Multi-Color Panel Kirman design in the Karastan Original collection was introduced in 1937 and is still the company’s all-time best seller.

Over the years, Karastan has modernized the Eden facility to include Karaloc woven and Van de Wiele wilton looms. (Machine-tufted Karastan broadloom is produced in other facilities). Both spool and gripper Axminster constructions were developed from the original jacquard loom technology invented in Axminster, England during the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century.

Halcyon Skinner, an American who was employed by Alexander Smith, is credited with inventing the spool Axminster in 1878.

Today, Karastan is the only U.S. maker of spool Axminster rugs.

Modern electronic gripper Axminster carpeting is made all over the world and most often found in contract installations, particularly in the hospitality field.

When Karastan developed advanced Axminster technology in 1928, the new manufacturing process was considered so revolutionary that the trade press reportedly referred to the first Karastan rugs as “Mystery Rugs.” Axminster rugs can contain up to 50 colors, which has been a major selling point since the looms were invented. The depth and detail of a traditional hand-knotted rug can be reproduced using this manufacturing technique.

The fact that Axminster rugs are also virtually indestructible is another major selling point. Karastan invited visitors to walk on the rugs at both the 1933-34 World’s Fair in Chicago and the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York. Nearly 5 million people walked on a Karastan rug in Chicago and 9 million people walked on another Karastan rug in New York. After both Fairs, the rugs were cleaned and restored to their original condition.


About hemphillbrett
Floorcovering specialist

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