Hailing from France in the seventeenth century, Aubusson rugs descended from tapestries created at The Savonnerie, a manufactory royale, which wove rugs for King Louis XIV to be used in the official palaces and residences but also to be presented as gifts to visiting ambassadors and dignitaries.
Before this time, rugs were made in the Turkish style...that is to say what we think of as a Persian rug. But by the time Louis XVI came around, the rugs had taken on a particular French look. The Renaissance brought many innovations and advancements and one of the most significant achievements in the arts was the discovery of perspective in painting. Inspired by this magical way of making two dimensional objects look three dimensional, Aubusson rugs were born. A center medallion or cartouche would be complimented by an ornate border, all of a Baroque or Neo-Classical design, wreathed with floral bouquets, ribbons, and vines. The color palette tended to be significantly lighter than rugs of the past with creams, light blues, and soft pinks. They look like the misty, pastoral backgrounds of paintings by Fragonard.
Not every Aubusson has to have a center medallion, as evidenced by the free form flowers and vines below...but notice that the rug maintains a Rococo border.
Of course antique Aubusson rugs command steep prices but this style of rug is still made today and can set a grand stage for a room of period furnishings. Here we see the bedroom of celebrity designer Michael S. Smith (who has designed the White House for the Obamas...TWICE). Elements of Louis Xv and Louis XVI mingle upon an antique Aubusson.
The formality of this living room by Scott Snyder is heightened with the addition of this Rococo Aubusson featuring a shell motif.
A Neo-Classical day bed takes pride of place atop an Aubusson rug in this Roman and Williams-designed sitting room which, despite the presence of antiques, feels decidedly graphic and modern.
And speaking of modern, you do not have to surround an Aubusson strictly with French antiques. Here we see a room in the home of Kate and Andy Spade designed by Steven Sclaroff who used an Aubusson with Art Deco pieces and modern art for a dynamic, eclectic look.