The ballroom inside one of America’s oldest grand opera houses has been restored to its former 19th century glory, thanks to the extensive collection of material in a carpet design archive that is proudly owned by Brintons carpets.
The archive dates back to 1791 and is regarded as the largest and most comprehensive carpet design archive in the world. It contains more than 100,000 original design papers, other forms of artwork and original carpet samples that trace the history of global carpet design across two centuries.
The value of the archive has been illustrated by the work Brintons has just completed at the Philadelphia Academy of Music in the US — the oldest grand opera house in America to still be used for its original purpose. The ballroom inside the building dates back to 1857 and Brintons was commissioned to design and weave a period Axminster rug to form the centrepiece of the restoration project.
To deliver a rug that would be historically accurate, Brintons embarked on an extensive research campaign to gather design information relating to rugs manufactured in the 19th century. The Brintons archive was central to this process because it contains material that references the decorative style of the Louis XIV and XV periods that were dominated by Savonnerie carpet designers Pierre Dupont and his apprentice Simon Lourdet.
As well as using its own carpet design archive, Brintons also studied two Palace of Versailles and Louvre apartment rugs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a ‘music’ rug in the Rice Room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The period rug that Brintons designed, wove and then delivered to the Philadelphia Academy of Music has been hailed as the standout feature in the refurbished ballroom.
John Trosino, senior associate at KlingStubbins, the interior design firm responsible for the refurbishment, said: “Without Brintons’ unfailing guidance, advice, creativity, and understanding, the carpet — and the room for that matter — would not be the same. I could not imagine the project without Brintons.
“Its drive and dedication while working with me to create the carpet I pictured in my head but struggled to articulate was excellent and as time went by, I trusted and depended on Brintons’ instincts to ensure the design was completed to the correct standard. The scale and proportion of the patterning is perfect and the complexity and richness of the design elements compliments the original decorative painting of the walls and ceiling vaults.”
Jonathan Young, Brintons’ global commercial sales director, said: “This was a very special project to be involved with, given the amount of historical content we were working with and the need for accuracy. But the strength and depth of our own Brintons design archive and our dedication to delivering a historically accurate job were key to the overall success of this project. I think the final result is perfectly in keeping with the original scheme that the architects originally wanted to create in 1856 but were unable to do so because of time and financial constraints.”