There are a few different avenues you can take to arrive at a custom rug. One is to supply an original design, select the colors and fiber type, specify the size, pay for it, wait for it, then its done! The other is modifying a rug you like (but one that's not *quite right* for your project either in color, size or scale). This post outlines the process we designers take our clients through when we embark upon the latter.
The journey to a custom rug is a long one. That's why, if you are fast-tracking a project, you order the rug as soon as possible (scratch that, you order it about two weeks before as soon as possible). This is assuming you aren't buying new or vintage off the rack (nothing wrong with it, but many clients understandably want new carpets). To me, there is nothing like a rug fabricated to your specific spec. Sometimes, the only part of a rug that is custom is the size. I typically order odd sizes, even if off by just a few inches from standard sizes. Sometimes those five or eight inches are crucial. One thing that's important when you supply a custom size, is that the pattern size should change accordingly. When you are dealing with a few inches, its not a big deal. But if you are supplying a size that is completely different than a standard size, the pattern has to be adjusted or else the proportion will be off.
Its no secret that I adore LOVE Patterson, Flynn + Martin rugs. Their value is unbeatable, their products span from traditional to fresh and transitional, and their customer service is flawless (L.A. designers who want the best vendor ever- call up Guillermo at the Patterson, Flynn + Martin at the Pacific Design Center location. He will take amazing care of you and your client! ). Aside from the aforementioned reasons, they will customize just about anything for you- either from scratch or by modifying existing designs.
One of the projects I just completed (aside from waiting on the rug, and therefore the photo shoot!) called for a few rugs, all of them custom in some way. This is an example of a kitchen runner. My client loved this Grand Ziggurat style from the Kelly Wearstler collection.
But...the colors, and the sizes offered, didn't work. So, we sat down with some poms, (poms are little bundles of yarn in hundreds thousands (!) of colors. As with anything in interior design, it can be very overwhelming to see how many options you have. We started with my client's kitchen paint color that she loved. From there, I built a five-color palette with my client sitting on the floor of the showroom, samples, poms and ideas flying about (its a really fun process!). Once we selected the colors, we allocated where the colors were to go on the pattern of the rug. The vendor took down our notes and sent away for the rendering from their art department. Not only were the colors custom, but so was the size- which meant they also needed to rescale the pattern to our specified rug size. After about a week (and a deposit!), they sent over the custom color rendering detail and the pattern size modification:
Isn't it pretty?! From there, we approved the artwork and all our specs. Since its a custom rug and there is no real life example to "see", we needed a strike off. A strike off is a small rug sample that is fabricated according to the custom specs. Although the renderings do a good job of illustrating the final outcome- its not what it will really look like. Strike off's are produced to show the exact colors, yarns and pattern. After submitting payment for the strike off, we waited...about 6 weeks. After the strike-off lead-time, I got a call from my vendor who is *in love* with what I did and can't wait to send it out...it ships to my studio and this is what it looks like:
I receive it, inspect it, email my client that it has arrived, and ship it to my client with some other approval paperwork. My client approves it and ships its back to me. I approve the actual sample by singing my life away (not really, but sometimes we sarcastically refer to approvals as such):
Then I ship it back to the showroom with all the approval paperwork and final payment. They will use the strike off as a quality control measure, ensuring an exact color match. And, now.....we wait. Up to five months. (Understandably, the wait is long because its hand knotted- humans can only work so fast!) In total, the process will take nearly 9-10 months (it can happen a bit faster, depending on how fast your client approvals take).