Dwell: Fine Rug Designer Ben Soleimani Launches a New Venture (a Q&A)
Published July 10, 2019
Jet-setter, developer, and ardent polo player, Ben Soleimani is also an author of high-end, contemporary rugs that are sought after by celebrated interior designers and savvy consumers alike—but he’s not resting on his laurels. In a move that might very well disrupt the luxury furnishings market, Soleimani launched his direct-to-consumer brand and online emporium earlier this year, with plans to offer more than rugs. The impresario teases furniture, textiles, and upholstered goods to come this fall, essentially making his website a one-stop shop for high-end home goods while removing the showroom and middleman quotient.
As the adage goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Soleimani grew up in and learned from a family of fine rug purveyors going back four generations. He launched his family business Mansour (which, by the way, holds a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales) in the United States at the tender age of 16.
In 2011, he partnered with Restoration Hardware to launch the Ben Soleimani collection. Defined by a clean, minimalist, and timeless aesthetic—as well as an exploration of textures and weaving techniques—these designs bore his name but were exclusively sold through the upscale home furnishings brand. That is, until now.
What sparked the idea for you to launch a direct-to-consumer business?
I have actually been thinking about this for years. This is not about a moment—it is something that I believe is a hole in the market and I hope to fill that hole. We are creating a destination for the entire home. And once the furniture launches, I can really spread my wings. It’s an exciting new chapter!
Do you conceive every design yourself or with a studio team?
It is me. I joke that my studio is in my head. I take in my environment wherever I go and catalogue palettes and textures. Nature is a huge inspiration, as is travel.
Nature as inspiration seems a common thread in design.
There is always an element of surprise in nature, the unexpected that works so well. I love to try to interpret that into home design—without being literal.
Do trends ever factor in?
I don’t believe in following trends, only making them.
You split your time between your home in London and the U.S., mainly in Los Angeles, when you’re not globetrotting. Which side of the pond influences your design insights more?
It is a balance. I have a love for heritage and craftsmanship from growing up in Europe, but I appreciate the warm casualness of things in the [United] States.
How much of your own home features your designs?
I am particular. I always need to be part of the design process and I am very hands on.
What has impacted your work in a positive way?
Having my twins. It changed everything for me, it made every decision clearer, made my life more robust and my creativity soar. It is the reason I am doing what I am now.
I never dwell on the negative.
Grey for decorating. It’s an elegant color and goes well with most everything. Blue to wear. It’s extraordinarily versatile, can be modern or classic and everything in between.
Now that you’re in your 40s, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I don’t know about my 20-year-old self, but I would tell young designers to look to themselves for inspiration. Don’t try to copy and be a second-rate version of someone else. Gain experiences, see the world, make mistakes so that you can translate those experiences into a creative bounty.