It’s a surprisingly gray day for midsummer in upstate New York, but the light is perfect, reminiscent of late-fall as it slants through floor-to-ceiling windows. Acclaimed fashion designer Prabal Gurung is dressed impeccably, of course, in a look that reflects the moody setting and the pops of color featured in the collection we’re here to shoot. All around us, rugs are rolled out, hung as backdrops, and styled as foundations and focal points, alike—their brilliant hues juxtaposed against the silvery light.
So, why is a renowned, award-winning fashion designer diving headfirst into the world of décor? For him, he says the answer is simple. “When this incredible opportunity of collaborating with Rugs USA came my way, I was really excited because I grew up in the land of rugs—in Nepal. I saw rugs all the time in Nepal, in India, and traveling everywhere,” he tells us.
Born in Singapore and raised in Nepal, Gurung’s rug roots run deep. But that isn’t the only place he considers home. Today, he resides in New York City—and it, too, is incredibly close to his heart. In fact, the inspiration for his first-ever rug collection came instantly, straight from them both. “I wanted to create this story of ‘West Meets East,’” he begins. “I wanted to play with these two ideas: my homeland, Nepal, and my home where I found myself, New York, and bring those two together. I always say the mysticism, the magic of Nepal with the pragmatism of New York—you know, this coming together.”
From vibrant colors to sensible neutrals and tasseled embellishments to abstract linework, the story he’s woven into these designs is palpable. The collection as a whole mirrors that merging of two worlds, just as intended. “It has these geometric and organic shapes, and it has a little bit of the lived-in history that I grew up in. But because of the way we designed it—the way we placed the patterns and prints—it feels very modern, too,” he says. “It’s colorful, it’s textural, it’s vibrant, but there’s also this beautiful play with neutrals and textures that I love.”
But just as with his ready-to-wear styles, it’s not just the designs that set these rugs apart—it’s also the details. From expert constructions like tufting to fashion-forward mediums like wool and washable materials, this collection wears high-quality on its sleeve. Textural, tactile elements are designed to bring depth to your space. Thoughtful, designer touches take these pieces to the next level. So much of their beauty is in those details—the details and the heart behind them.
That is to say, the same love that Gurung puts into every dress he designs is on full display in his collection for Rugs USA, too. “In my runway shows, you’ll see certain colors, textures, shapes, but if there’s one unifying thing about all my shows, it’s optimism. There’s optimism and there’s hope. Because I think the most courageous thing you can be is hopeful, right? And so, with this collection, what I wanted to do was bring that level of storytelling to it through the colors, the textures, the shapes, and the way we’re shooting it, the way we’re presenting it to the world,” he explains.
It’s evident that storytelling is important to Gurung, both on and off the runway. And not just when it comes to the messages he hopes to convey through his collections—he also cares deeply about his clients’ stories and the tales of self they hope to share when they adorn their lives with his work. He views this collection as an opportunity for connection. His hope? That you’ll place them in special spaces throughout your home—the spaces where you want to tell your own story, whether that be figuratively through your décor, or more literally over drinks with a friend. “Those spaces where you want to create joy, you want to create some connection, where you truly want to see each other—I think those would be the spaces for these rugs,” he tells us.
Woven between the story and the goal of this collection is one last message from Gurung—a message to his beloved customers. “Personally, for me, this collection is my way of saying thank you for all these years of love and support. And for allowing me, a kid who came all the way from Nepal to New York with a dream—not sure if that dream was going to be realized—to come here and have it realized. It’s all because of them. And it’s my way of saying thank you,” he shares. “For the longest period of time—with clothes and with fashion—they’ve listened to my stories. They’ve allowed me to tell my stories, and this is just another extension of that. Sharing a little piece of my world back home in Nepal and the new home I created here in New York. It’s the two worlds, the opposite, the collaging of cultures, the collaging of ideas. I’ve always loved the dichotomies of things. And I wanted to see how those two worlds—the opposite worlds—when they come together, what magic we can create.”
And create magic in this collection, Gurung certainly did. These pieces are a testament to how well different worlds can work together when approached with mutual respect, warmth, and appreciation. “With this collection, I wanted to hopefully show a glimpse of the world that I live in and that we are much more similar than we are different. All of us are so similar,” he says. “The only thing that we need to do is appreciate and celebrate each other, each other’s cultures, and the differences. Because where the magic lies is in the differences. When those two worlds collide, if you’re able to really be present and see it—that’s where the magic happens. And I hope with this collection that people feel that.”