EXOTIC, CONTEMPORARY, TRADITIONAL

BY DAVID MUNK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Entering the Esmaili Rugs and Antiques showroom is an experience where everyone, from the first-time homeowner to rug connoisseur, will be greeted by a peerless collection of antique, vintage and new rugs and guided by a helpful staff of experts only too glad to navigate your way to the perfect rug. Owner Ali Esmaili describes his ideal client as someone who sees the individuality, beauty, value and history in rugs. “Most of our clients are confident and not afraid to honor their inner persona with bold, elegant statement pieces,” he adds. “Rugs are like artwork, and every piece is handmade; no two are exactly alike. That’s why I say it’s art you can walk on.”

Perhaps this is why Esmaili’s showroom is one of the metroplex’s true gems, for everyone from Erykah Badu to world-renowned designers like Michelle Nussbaumer, Kelly Wearstler and Emily Henderson. Esmaili’s stunning selection—over 6,000 pieces—is highly curated and represents many styles, including contemporary, distressed, kilim and tapestry, as well as every major weaving center in the world: Afghanastan, the United States, China and Khotan, Europe, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Persia and Turkey— and this comprises only a partial list! In addition to its geographic and stylistic diversity, Esmaili’s inventory accommodates a broad range of price points, making it the metroplex’s premier destination for everything from tribal Berber Moroccan rugs and Turkish oushaks to antique tapestries. With an inventory this large, one never has to worry about finding a dream rug online only to discover it is not in the showroom and has to be a special order.

Esmaili’s parents were rug merchants, and he proudly carries on the family business, building upon the legacy of the previous generation. He opened his first showroom on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in 1989, but missing his family and Texas hospitality, he moved back to Dallas in 1995 and opened the Design District showroom that bears the family name. Because Esmaili has spent his life studying and working with artisans, collectors, designers and purveyors of distinctive and historical rugs, he has developed long-term relationships with manufacturers, interior designers and trade professionals that are unique in their strength and longevity. Starting with a vision for an antique rug niche in the Oriental rug market, Esmaili Rugs and Antiques has grown from a one-man operation to a multimillion-dollar business, serving trade professionals and customers across the globe.

Esmaili and his staff are experts who strive to always simplify the process of shopping for Oriental rugs, whether they are working with interior designers, trade professionals or consumers. Customers observe visual details of exotic, contemporary and traditional rugs hanging from the walls. “There’s no music playing, so the client can clearly hear me or a member of my staff speak about each piece,” Esmaili offers, adding, “We like to make customers feel special and welcome.”

Esmaili Rugs and Antiques further differentiates itself from many other fine rug purveyors by building trust with every client. “We would never post a ‘Going out of Business’ sign,” he says, referring to the misleading but all-to-common device many rug sellers use to increase sales. Trust is further built by the showroom’s policy of allowing customers to take rugs home to try them prior to purchasing.

The customer experience is often highly personalized, yielding the rug of your dreams as well as an opportunity to learn about the artistry, history and various weaving processes. “If the client doesn’t have a great deal of time to shop, it helps if they know what size rug they need and make an appointment,” Esmaili explains, because rugs can then be pulled in advance. “But,” he says, “it is always nice to have clients that are not pressed for time, love Persian tea and want to know about the rug’s history.”

Esmaili sums up his showroom’s relationship with clients by simply stating: “Our customers leave feeling like they have received a quality rug at a fair price.”

David Munk, a recent transplant from New York City, is a content creator and storyteller. His blog is stargayzing.com.