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Meet Mikael Kennedy of King Kennedy Rugs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mikael Kennedy.

Mikael, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began collecting rugs in my travels as a professional photographer seven or eight years ago, I was drawn specifically to the threadbare pieces, the ones that showed signs of their age. The first rug I ever bought was a caucasian prayer rug from 1890, the rug was worn bare where someone’s hands and knees had been places for decades. It blew my mind to be holding a piece that old, one that someone has put some much love and care into making and then into using. I was hooked.

I started to realize that the same visual instincts that drew me to photography (specifically landscapes) were what drew me to these rugs, color texture and pattern. So I started collecting more, posting pictures of them online, one day someone asked me to find them a rug, then another person, then Club Monaco asked me to help them find some Navajo rugs for a store in London. The business just built from there, I travel with an empty duffle most of the time now in case I find a good piece.

I’m very specific about what I collect, I only buy pieces I’d be happy owning for the rest of my life, if they happen to sell then I get to by more. Now I’m 400+ rugs in and still going, I work with dealers all over the world to find these special pieces, sometimes using cutter rugs or scraps to do collaborations with artists and designers I meet through my photo work. I’ve made bags, shoes and even a chair and more is coming this year.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This was entirely started as a hobby that turned into a side hussle. Lack of necessity is one of the most powerful and beautiful things. It’d be a different story if this was my full-time job, but it’s just a labor of love.

Please tell us about King Kennedy Rugs.
I collect and sell primarily antique Persian and Navajo rugs and weavings. Generally, all the pieces are approximately 100 years old, give or take. The rugs I sell are of a very specific style and wear (think distressed jeans) only buying up pieces that show their age.

It’s a heavily curated collection which is key, most rug dealers have a wide variety which makes it difficult to find these pieces which are usually the only type my clients are looking for. I also work with clients both for private homes and larger companies to source pieces for specific projects. I have a network of rug dealers (generally 3rd or 4th generation dealers) who I work with worldwide to hunt for these beauties.

I am clearly obsessed with these rugs, the patterns and textures are maps of human existence, but what I’ve really been enjoying lately is partnering with fashion designers to make one of a kind pieces, most recently two pairs of shoes with a brand called No. One Systems out of Venice. I have a line of new one of a kind bags made out of an old massive Kilim piece coming out later this year with Billy Kirk, and a chair with Stephen Kenn is in the works as well.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
There are always rugs I regret selling, I grow attached to them, but being willing to sell them off is what separates the collectors from the hoarders. 🙂 In particular, there were three room-sized Heriz’s that I sold maybe five years ago that I still think about, wishing I’d kept one for myself. The wear on them was just fantastic.

Pricing:

  • Small and Medium rugs generally priced $250-1500
  • Room Size rugs run from $1250-5600
  • Navajo pieces right now run from $800-3250

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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