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A British Rugmaker (with Royal Ties) Weaves His Way to Chicago

Plus, a furniture collaboration to love, midsummer sales, and more

Luke Irwin (right) and a design from his new Mosaic Collection.   Photos: Courtesy of Luke Irwin

This Week’s Top Story

Ask Luke Irwin how he got into rug making, and the former antiques dealer launches into a charming story that involves a Tibetan tween and crop circles. It’s confusing, as are his ties to the royal family—the Brit is married to Alice Elliot, the niece of Prince Charles’s wife, Camilla Parker Bowles—but beguiling.

The tale behind his new Mosaic line is even better: while digging a trench in his home near Bath in 2015, workmen uncovered a mosaic that historians have dated to the fourth century. Turns out it is one of the finest mosaics ever discovered in Britain, and is part of a palace complex that likely housed one of the Roman era’s most important families. How could he not use this find for inspiration? “I mulled over doing a collection based on this discovery for several weeks, as it was blurring the lines between domestic and professional life, but decided that the chances of a luxury floor designer of the 21st century discovering a luxury floor of the fourth century had to do this—otherwise it would be spitting in the eyes of the gods,” explains the bespoke rug maker.

Irwin’s nuanced pieces can be found in the homes of royalty of many stripes—political (the Obamas were gifted one by Ireland), rock (members of U2 and the Rolling Stones are owners), and crown (yes, his aunt has some). And now they at last arrive on our shores, at Chicago showroom Oscar Isberian (120 W. Kinzie St., isberian.com). “I love Chicago anytime, and now is better than the future,” Irwin says of finally offering his work to Midwest buyers. But be ready to pony up: a rug with 120,000 knots made of the highest-quality materials starts at $3,000 per square foot.

No matter the price, Irwin believes that a rug should be the last thing you notice in a room, that it shouldn’t be trendy, and that it should be used. “You should not compromise how you live your life because of a rug, like insisting that everyone takes their shoes off or getting worried about anything being spilt,” he says. “You can pretty much clean anything out of a rug.”

Interior Intel

Chicago’s own Interior Define (833 W. Armitage Ave., interiordefine.com) just announced a partnership with popular lifestyle blog, Chris Loves Julia. The new sofa collection, called Charly, was developed by Julia and Chris Marcum for families with a taste for modern functional design and a preference for customization. Think: deep seats, comfy cushions, and a clean shape.

One-of-a-kind electronics center Artisan Electronics Group has opened its first custom installation showroom at the Design Center at theMART (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, designcenter.com). Cruise through a 12-person, state-of-the-art theater and the latest in entertainment and smart-home automation to inspire and delight.

Sales

Save the date! For one day only, the “Everything Is on Sale” sale at Home Carpet One (3071 N. Lincoln Ave., homecarpetone.com) fulfills its eponymous promise. Pop by Joel and Debbie Schreier’s second-generation, family-owned store on Saturday, July 22, to find bamboo and cork, tiles, rugs, and anything else that covers the floor. Online, use the code EOSS2017 to get deep discounts.

If it’s July, it’s the Midsummer Sale at Design Within Reach (755 W. North Ave., dwr.com). Save up to 70 percent on Maharam pillows, furniture by Norm Architects, and Eva Zeisel earthenware dinnerware sets.

Events

This weekend, more than 100 residential gardens will be on view during the 49th annual Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk (sheffieldgardenwalk.com) Garden gates will be open Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. Die-hards can sign up for the 3:30 pm walking tour of prized private urban gardens. Start one block south of the Fullerton Red/Brown L stop.

Feed your love of the outdoors during Lurvey Garden Center’s Lifelong Gardener Camp (2550 E. Dempster St., Des Plaines, lurveys.com). This Thursday at 9:30 a.m., and most other Thursdays this summer, work on various aspects of your gardening habit, like ways to nurture baby shrubs or optimizing habitats for lovable critters. It’s free. Sign up here.

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