Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacob Rahman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jacob. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started falling in love with art at a very young age. I was always a doodler, and it was not until my early 20’s I began pursing art and the business of art seriously. After finishing my studies, I began working in the field of decor and interiors. Circa 2005 in San Diego California, I got my first design gig with Amy Finley of Finley Designs. I learned about furnishings and timelines and meeting discerning clients’ needs. In 2006, I moved to New York and started working for The Rug Company, whom I learned about in San Diego. I was with The Rug Co for 4 years before parting ways as the director of business development. I was making connections and seeing how we can grow the business organically, through crowd-sourcing if you will. It was a success and is a method still utilized today. In that time, I learned about and fell in love with handmade rugs and the potential that they had. After I left The Rug Company, I was trying to figure what I wanted to do and what I needed to do. I was not really satisfied with the job prospects during the height of the recession and starting my own project was a financial obstacle. It was during this time of introspection, and instability that I decided to join the US Dept. of Defense and work in Afghanistan for a year. I figured a year to shake things up, to save capital for something creative and have an awesome experience. I ended up doing 4 years overseas. On my second year into my deployment, I started what would become Soho Design House, the premiere art rug brand. From the US military base, on my spare time, I emailed the artists I am now working with. This was a fun and arduous process contacting artists and pitching this new idea. After I had the support of one artist, I leveraged that to acquire the next collaborator and so on. By my 4th and final year in Afghanistan, I had about a dozen rugs by a handful of prominent artist. I left the military base for the last time and flew to Milan for the international design show. It was great to see what the design world was doing and more importantly, what it was not doing. I had confidence that my art rugs had a place in the international design scheme. I also recognized it would be a tough path because the audience is not used to such wares. After Milan, I explored a bit of Europe and finally made it home to see my family. Still with no plan on how to exhibit my project, I reached to friends in and out of the industry. I was invited to Burningman and at the event, I ran into a furniture dealer who invited me to LA to visit his store. He said he was getting out of the business and that I could take over his lease. I moved into the humble storefront on Melrose in November of 2014 and I have been here since. My collection has since grown, the challenges have ebbed and flowed but overall, it’s been a fun adventure.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road to where I am so far has been fair. It could have been worse, but it has been fair. That is not to say there hasn’t been struggles. My initial struggles began when I would coordinate Skype meetings with artists from Afghanistan. The time difference is about 12 hours (LA to Kandahar Air Field) and often times I would have to stay up overnight to meet the timelines. The logistics were difficult because I would have samples made and shipped to the US, and then I needed to have my brother execute shipping of the rug samples from his house to the artists for approval. The coordinating of a website was difficult in that I would find time to email my graphic designer and changes has extended latencies. I reached a point where the website was completed but I was unhappy with it and rather than start over with a graphic designer, I learned to use Squarespace and made my own site. Getting content for the site was another obstacle, however with determination and support it came together. These were a few of the early struggles but persistence and commitment to the project made it all possible. Upon arrival to the US, I faced yet a new challenge, gathering attention for what I am doing as a brand. There is so much digital noise that to get recognized can be daunting. To help with that ongoing hurdle, it required me to push the brand grassroots style. I got out and met the artists in person at the various shows. I reached out to magazines and blogs to help shed light on the project. I must say that with hard work and lots of luck, things started to fall into place. Staying true to the core idea of being the world’s best and arguable only truly Art Rug brand coupled with luck helped move the project forward. I understood from the onset there would be challenges and tests of my commitment. I knew doing a project of this caliber required sacrifices and I was mentally prepared. I did not cut corners with work and acted with integrity with artists and clients. I did not live frivolously and acted as if the brand is a dependent child, working tirelessly at all hours to nurture it. I am sure this is nothing new with entrepreneurs and it is instinctual to act as such. Because I do not have partners, nor investors, I made sure to act with tact, cunning and to harvest fruitful relations with my counterparts. The struggle has far from ended and I’m swaying with the punches. Now it is a bit easier because the initial groundwork has established Soho Design House as reputable and recognized entity within its sub-genre. I am working on some very interesting projects and collaborations.
Please tell us about Soho Design House.
Soho Design House is the world’s only Art Rug brand and manufacturer. It is the company you go to for exciting handmade art rugs. You can buy from our existing curated collection or you can commission your own piece.
We specialize in rugs that striking, out of the norm, and conversation starters. We aim to redefine the how art can exist in your home. We have pieces that function as rugs but also can be hung up as wall pieces. Because they are masterfully hand knotted, pixel by pixel (knot by knot) they last virtually forever and are very durable. This craft coupled with the creative vision of world renowned artists yields something very special.
I am proud of the fact that this company started from an atypical starting point, with an ambitious vision and yet it came to fruition. I am very proud of the fact that I am able to talk with artists that I still fawn over as a contemporary. The fact that this is a legacy project, when time as passed and we have all perished, there will be a little blip in the annuals of history saying there was this little brand that did these amazing collaborations with a league of urban contemporary artists. What sets us apart from other rug brands and brands that try to emulate what I do is, we are authentic to our vision. We did not start as a traditional rug brand and then try to ride a trend of collaborating with local artists within reach. We started with the idea of only doing art rugs and we reached across the world to Brazil, Portugal, London, Israel, Australia, Japan and all over the US (NY, LA, FL) to curate our artists. We picked the collaborating artist for series of reasons, with the most prevalent being talent. We did not jump to the most popular or the easiest to reach, we focused on what we love and we paid homage to their craft.
I have an artist, Chaz Bojorquez who is perhaps the most influential of the script style art. To work with him is an honor and out of sheer respect. Those who know Chaz, know his pedigree, outside of what the art market dictates. We have worked with Tristan Eaton who is a brilliant luminary, with an impressive history that predates his current signature style. Tristan is responsible for creating a cultural movement with his early works. David Flores, his iconic mosaic works made an impression on me in the early 90’s and was actually the first artist I collaborated with. The list goes on and every artist in our collection has reason for their acclaim, even if the acclaim is not public. Within the art world, the artists I work with are respectful of one another’s achievements and even friends. Finally, the platform that I have worked to create has auxiliary benefits. Two of them being, I am able to highlight talented emerging artists by having them in a stellar line up and secondary, the artists whom have been working for decades now have a whole new audience in the home decor / design world. I can see the collaborations extending over to furniture and other housewares. This is strictly a passion bases business and we look less at bottom lines and profits and losses than we do at creating something relevant, and that is the major difference between Soho Design House and xyz brand.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood is exploring and learning new things, hearing new words and listening to new music, meeting new kids in the apartment complex. I grew up in a family oriented household where my mom was stay at home and every now and then we would go on weekend picnics with other friends of my parents. I recall being inquisitive and asking questions from the adults trying to learn. Though I probably drove them up the wall at times, it felt good to be around caring people willing to teach me. Regardless of the typical familial and social challenges we faced, my memories from childhood are quite fond.
- Address: 6912 Melrose Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90038
- Website: www.sohodh.com
- Phone: 212.858.0105
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @sohodh
- Facebook: @sohodh
- Twitter: @sohodh
- Yelp: @sohodh
Jacob Rahman / Soho Design House