Spotlight On: Tibetan Karma Carpets

Brooklyn, New York

Alex BurgnonAlex Burgnon is not Tibetan, not Nepalese, not from a family of rug merchants and—until co-founding Tibetan Karma Carpets with buddy Mike Rhodes—not a rug designer. He was, and still is, a flight attendant with a huge heart. Alex and Mike were in Nepal with the humanitarian organization Airline Ambassadors International when they had a eureka moment. “Why not,” Alex recounts, “help find a market for the rugs made in that tiny handicraft center we visited?” Tibetan Karma Carpets was born out of compassion, and their decision to join GoodWeave® was a “way to be part of a compassionate community.”

From a business plan hastily written on scraps of paper in a Kathmandu hotel, Tibetan Karma Carpets has developed into a fine purveyor of both classic and contemporary silk and wool rugs.

Although Alex chose a career in flight, he has always had a passion for the arts. His mother is a painter; his father was a bassist for Bonnie Raitt; and his grandmother took him to Europe every summer. Whether watching his mother paint, listening to his father’s friends jam, or spending time in the great museums of Europe, he “inhaled art,” said Alex.

It’s no surprise Alex now designs some of his company’s rugs—and that the thousands of hours spent in the air inspire his work. For example, “Supersonic,” in the Jet Set collection, a retro-modern series, was influenced by the patterns formed by sound waves just as a jet is about to break the sound barrier. In contrast, the down-to-earth, sleek, cool, and contemporary Sunday Brunch collection was produced in collaboration with Montreal textile designer Noam Mechaly. For Tibetan Karma Carpets, artistically, the sky’s the limit. “We’re honoring traditional craftsmanship while reaching for a more contemporary sensibility, even using non-traditional fibers such as hemp and cactus now,” says Alex.

Although high-flying Tibetan Karma Carpets founders Alex and Mike have seen the world many times over, rugs, Alex admits, have taken him into unimaginable worlds artistically and ethically. “Life is about service,” says Alex, “and for us, this is the best way to serve. GoodWeave helps us raise the ethical bar.”

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