A short potted history of modern rugs

If you could take your rug out for a quick fly around the block – that would be refreshingly new wouldn’t it? Such tales of flying carpets are as old as the hills – and hardly represent modernity. But the rug has evolved – and it is a common feature in many households.

But just how much do you know about the modern history of the rug – you know the one you love sinking your toes into on a cold winter’s day?

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The history of the modern rug is much more fascinating than you might think and has to start with the introduction of synthetic fibres into the weaving process in the 1950s. Until that date, rugs were made of pure natural fibres, including wool, silk and cotton with the earliest rug we know of in the world was made in 500 BC and was beautifully preserved in the icy wastes of Siberia.

But what came next?


Banish the idea of women in distant lands weaving a rug over many months, or even years. Today’s rugs are manufactured by machine but have retained the quality of older hand woven processes.

If you buy a modern rug from Carpetright you can select one made from natural fibres or a combination of synthetic materials with traditional wool. Machine weaving means that rugs are more affordable and can incorporate vibrant contemporary designs, including bold patterns and stripes, with ease.


The evolution of the tufting process allowed a traditional handcraft technique to be mechanised. Tufting was originally used in the production of chenille bedspreads, and was revived by the American Catherine Evans from Georgia.

The bedspreads became so popular that by 1940 machines took over the work of the craftspeople and the process was introduced to the production of rugs and carpets.

Tufted carpets and rugs became increasingly more popular and by the end of the 20th century this was one of the most popular types of floor covering


Nylon, polyester rayon and other man made fibres became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. These rugs would often fade in the sunlight and show the dirt more easily but as wool rugs can’t stand rigorous cleaning techniques and should always be treated with care it still provided a practical solution for busy families.


Synthetic fibres are popular in the modern rug making industry – and so are synthetic dyes. Purists claim that artificial colours aren’t as varied as their natural counterparts but the production of artificial uniform colour combined with a mechanised weave means that modern rugs can be manufactured in bulk and display interesting patterns.

Of course, plain varieties are still available and this means that everything from pure white to floral printed rugs can be made for modern homes.

white rug



The growing popularity of rugs means that the brightest and best designers are employed in their production. You can enter a living room in Purley and recognise patterns that have been incorporated from Mexico or the Far East.

Leading fashion designers including Calvin Klein and Jeff Banks have all lent their artistic flair to contemporary rug design over the years. Vivid contemporary designs are as popular as more traditional patterns and this provides plenty of variety and flexibility for today’s homeowners.


Not all modern rugs are machine-made, with the popularity of these household furnishings meaning that hand knotted rugs, hand tufted woollen rugs and even silk rugs can still be found alongside synthetic mixes made on machines.

With more people installing laminate flooring or exposing their natural floorboard, the rug has become an indispensable household accessory to inject warmth and style which means that their future is likely to be as exciting as their past!

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