Cadrys Weaves Old With New
For Bob Cadry, a discerning design eye is in the blood. Read on to discover Cadrys’ colourful family heritage, their latest local collaborators, and the pieces set to wow visitors at DENFAIR 2019.
ST: Can you share Cadrys’ origin story with us?
BC: The business was started in 1952 by my father, Jacques Cadry, who came to Australia from Iran. He started importing Persian rugs from his homeland, selling them to department stores and high-end furniture stores. Following that, he opened up a small gallery showroom in Edgecliff, not far from where we are today.
Back then, people in Australia really didn’t have much exposure to the beauty of the hand-knotted rug, so for him it was really challenging, to introduce these rugs to his clients and designers. But he was a man of great conviction, integrity, and knowledge, and he slowly pioneered an awareness of the intrinsic quality of hand-knotted rugs.
Over the years, the business grew, and my father started doing exhibitions with department stores, including David Jones, travelling around the country doing promotions. He was really quite an authority and expert on Persian and antique rugs, and passed that passion on to my brother and myself.
My brother joined the business in the late 60s, while I joined in the late 70s. Primarily, our focus was fine hand-knotted rugs from traditional rug-making centres of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Central Asia. These were always hand-selected – whether they were rare antiques, or collectible and decorative, they all had to have lasting quality and be well-sourced. We never source mass-produced products, or from anywhere there was child labour involved.
ST: In what way has the Cadrys offering evolved since then?
BC: About 15 to 20 years ago, we made the move from traditional classical rugs into contemporary hand-knotted rugs. There was a big shift in taste then, in what clients and designers were looking for. People weren’t really using antiques, they were looking for plainer textured rugs, rugs that weren’t necessarily the hero in the space. For us, it was hard to find contemporary hand-knotted rugs that still had intrinsic quality and artistry in them. We didn’t want to just sell modern, cheap rugs.
Around that time, I went to a trade show in Europe and came across Jan Kath, a young German guy whose family were well-known antique rug dealers. Jan had spent some time in Nepal, with a family who were producing beautiful hand-knotted contemporary rugs for the German market. They needed someone to liaise with their buyer in Germany, and Jan fell into that role. He developed great expertise in their rug-weaving processes and eventually designed collections to showcase their technique. Today, Jan Kath is one of the most important contemporary rug designers in the world. His first collections really stood out for fusing classic aesthetics with a contemporary twist. He was the author of the rug deconstruction movement, where patterns would appear erased or overlayed.
Cadrys launched our contemporary showroom on the back of his Jan Kath collection, which we still represent. And that sat with us well because his rugs were made with beautiful materials, and carried the same virtues of the classical rugs we sold. Over that period of time, we developed our own production in Nepal, alongside Jan Kath, doing our own custom-made rugs.
ST: Being such a longstanding business, how have you seen the local market’s tastes change over the years?
BC: To me, the lines are blurred – what was classical is now twisted, in a way, with classical patterns being overscaled, or deconstructed, or contemporised in toning or shade. And even today, antique rugs are finding their way into contemporary minimalist interiors. We’re finding a lot of designers are using a combination of antique and contemporary rugs in the one home.
It’s quite fascinating, the diversity of product and taste that exists here, because the Australian market is prone to so many different influences. This can actually make things difficult in some regards, because suppliers have to have a wide range of options, or be able to create a bespoke concept for someone. Cadrys has always had good stock and inventory of product to suit a diverse range of tastes, offering a unique range of rugs that can be tailored to suit specific environments.
I think the Australian market is spoilt for choice, there’s a great diversity of talent here, and our designers and architects are really world class. The industry has matured to such a level that it’s something that we can really be proud of.
ST: How does Cadrys select its collaborators?
BC: It’s not our intent to just find someone with a name to promote. We don’t collaborate often, so like with Jan Kath, we need to find people who share the same values in artistry, workmanship and design – people who are original in their process and productions. For instance, we worked with Tammy Kanat because she’s a weaver, so she understands colour, texture, patterns and weaves. David Hicks, we’ve worked with him on many interiors, he’s a really forward-thinking interior designer with heaps of ideas. Walter G is our latest collaboration, they do hand block printed fabrics sold internationally. Because of their sensitivity for traditional textiles and methods of production, we found a synergy between us.
ST: Tell me what we might expect to see from Cadrys at DENFAIR.
BC: We represent a couple of fabulous companies overseas. One is called the Aleph collection, by Lila Valadan. Her work is quite amazing because it incorporates one of the earliest forms of handweaving, old kilim weave made in narrow band and stitched together. That collection uses a fusion of goats hair, wool and cotton – almost like sisal – and has won contemporary rug design awards for the last three years in Europe. We also represent a lovely collection called Battilossi, who have a beautiful production house in Pakistan, and work with Afghan weavers.
We will exhibit these pieces, and others, alongside our exciting collaborations with Jan Kath, Walter G, Tammy Kanat and David Hicks.
ST: When you come to DENFAIR, what is it that you look forward to most?
BC: For me, DENFAIR is a great opportunity to come face-to-face with clients that we already are in contact with, as well as new clients who are there to see and engage with you. Most designers are busy during their work week, and while we’re always communicating, we don’t have time to look each other in the eye in a place where we’re surrounded by beautiful things. So I think it’s just the right environment for being able to present our product to people who are in a receptive frame of mind. They’ve taken that time out to be there, and they’re eager to see what’s new. It’s a point of engagement that’s so hard to find these days, because everyone’s time poor.
ST: What, in your view, sets it apart from other design exhibitions?
BC: I do think Thibaud and Claudio have done such a wonderful job in curating the right dealers. They’ve been careful, whereas others might have been tempted to open it up and give it to lots of people, but they’ve been very selective. That maintains the quality and integrity of the event, which is why people like us keep coming back. We see it as a show that’s continually got merit and growing.