Joe Ginsberg and the Art of the Carpet

General / People / Places / Products / April 15, 2011

“So what are you going to do?”

The client with the well-known American name was asking Joe Ginsberg, who restored Paul Rudolph’s Beekman Place apartment and created the wall finishes for Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel lobby and lounge, how he planned to go about creating a new carpet out of silk for her salon at 53rd and Seventh Avenue.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged.  “It should be a mystery and a journey to find out.”

He was serious.  He’d talked to her, and looked at the space off her dining room with the wraparound deck where she entertained and lobbied and hosted her dinner guests and her speakers for her public functions.  He’d taken a few photos of the 22-foot-long space, and then he’d thought about the 18-foot-long carpet in neutral accent tones.

“I had to let the apartment speak to me, to create the work and not feel hindered or forced,” he said.  “It’ll come.  That’s the part of the process that’s so exciting – the not knowing.”

His carpets are woven in Nepal by a family company that’s part of the Goodweave certification program working to eliminate child labor.  For his carpets created from paintings, his rug maker sends him a box of customized silk threads, or poms, from which he carefully selects colors to match his canvas.

“I draw a line, and show them ‘A101’ for example, and they translate that to red,” he said.  “It’s my palette and they’re my pigments.  It’s exciting every time I do it.”

For that reason, his clients, like the one from the well-known American family, seek him out.  “She saw one of our pieces somewhere, called us up and asked if she could come up to the studio,” he said.  “I didn’t know who she was, and it didn’t matter.  We’ll work for anybody who’s nice.”

The real trick is to make the client a part of the process. 

“They get so much better work out of you,” the materials master said.

For more on the very remarkable work of Joe Ginsberg, go to

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Mike Welton

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1 Comment

on April 15, 2011

Just like a magic carpet ride~

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