Meet Barbara Barran
Shakespearean, Rug Designer, Business Owner
My interest in design and interiors began when I was a child growing up in Washington, PA, where my father owned a furniture and carpet store. Every Sunday, my family drove around the area looking at model homes and visiting other home furnishings stores. My sister Marcia and I spent endless hours poring over design magazines, painting and repainting our bedroom, dyeing our curtains and bedspreads, and researching new ideas for our bathroom.
Marcia became an interior designer, but I had difficulty sticking to one path. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in English, I got a job managing Scandia House in Philadelphia, which sold what we now call classic Mid-Century Modern Scandinavian furniture. I returned to school and received an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh, then moved to New York City, where I received a fellowship to attend Columbia University, earning a Ph.D. in English with a specialty in Shakespeare.
After spending six years as a rep with SunarHauserman and Knoll, two office furniture manufacturers, I left sales to begin teaching at the New York School of Interior Design. This also gave me an opportunity to start my own business, designing and painting quilt-patterned floor cloths. The Whitney Museum, the Smithsonian, Old Sturbridge Village, and other museum stores carried my work.
In 1999, I started Classic Rug Collection, Inc. I used the word “collection” because I envisaged rugs made in many different styles and techniques. Drawing upon my interest in historical sources and using my research skills, I have designed rugs based on the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, American Primitive designs, the Gee’s Bend Quilt patterns, Art Deco motifs, and classic Eastern geometrics. I also create rugs using my own experiences and my imagination. Many of these ideas become one-of-a-kind custom rugs. All of my rugs use natural fibers and carry the Goodweave label, guaranteeing that no child labor is used in the making of my rugs. Through independent certification and rigorous inspections you know your rug is child-labor-free.
I have translated the works of major artists, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Julian Schnabel, Barbara Bloom, and the Gee’s Bend Quilters, into fascinating, hand-made rugs that have been exhibited in major museums throughout the world. The Metropolitan Museum in NYC commissioned me to design two, limited-edition rugs for their “Court and Cosmos: the Art of the Seljuk Turks” exhibit. It was the first time that the museum commissioned original rugs based on works in their collection. More than 25 US museums, including the Whitney and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, have sold my rugs. I was selected to show in Venice Design 2018, an international, by invitation only exhibit that runs concurrently with the Biennale. In May, 2018, I received awards from the US Commerce Department and the State of NY for excellence in exporting; in 2018, I was appointed to the US Commerce Department’s District Export Council. I have sold my rugs to every continent except Antarctica.
Today, I select from the finest rug manufacturers in the world to bring my designs to life. I commission hand-knotted New Zealand wool, pashmina, hemp, nettle, linen, banana, and silk rugs from Nepal; hand-tufted wool and silk rugs from Thailand and India; and flat-woven rugs from Portugal and India. In this way, I can find the technique—and the price point—that best suits my clients. I think my motto sums up my goals: Outstanding Design. Highest Quality. The Ultimate in Personal Service. Thank you for your interest in my rugs.