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Adja Kath, fourth generation of carpet brand Jan Kath:

'It's our aspiration to create pieces that will still be relevant in 50 or 60 years, the antiques of tomorrow'

In the world of luxury carpets, the name Jan Kath resonates with timeless design and traditional craftsmanship from Nepal, India and Morocco. InteriorDaily recently had the opportunity to sit down with Adja Kath, part of the fourth-generation of the Kath family, to delve into the history and future of the Jan Kath brand, his personal journey in the family business, and the unique essence that sets their creations apart.

On the left: Adja Kath. On the right: the Roma Vendetta, which won a Red Dot Design Award.

The origins of Jan Kath Design
Adja, who joined the company last year, begins by sharing the rich history of his family's involvement in the carpet industry. 'I'm in the fourth generation in the carpet business. My grandfather and great-grandfather were already working with the materials we use today. They were more on the traditional side, travelling to the legendary markets, the old souks, in Afghanistan, Turkey and Persia to buy pieces and resell them in Europe.'

Jan Kath, Adja's father, initially had no desire to follow in the family's footsteps. 'Jan, when he was my age, in his early 20s, packed his backpack and travelled to India to discover the world and find his own way. By chance, he encountered a friend of his father's on the streets of Kathmandu. This long-time family friend, in need of assistance with quality control, offered the young traveler a job. That's how my farther got reintroduced to carpets,' Adja explains.

From this serendipitous re-entry into the world of carpets, Jan decided to create designs he loved, without focusing on mass sales. This was during the 90s and 00s, a time when carpets were considered out of style. 'But Jan persisted, and here we are, nearly 25 years later, and it has worked out quite well,' Adja says.

Joining the family business
Adja, his brother Sanchir and cousin Marlene, recently joined the family business, each bringing their own strengths and passions. 'In school, I worked at a partners store, helping out with lifting and customer appointments. As I grew older, so did the company. I studied International Business with the company in mind,' says Adja.

The Cologne store.

His brother now designs for the company. 'Sanchir has always been the more creative one, excelling in drawing and conceptual thinking,' Adja explains. 'My brother even lived in Kathmandu for a few months and learnt to knot by hand. By getting very deeply involved in the production processes, he has a great deal of knowledge and a connection to the product.' Marlene has completed an apprenticeship in Wholesale and Export Trade and recently uprooted her life to be in Kathmandu for almost a year to push the creation of the Jan Kath Rug and Art Space ahead as a Project Manager.

'In addition to my brother, my cousin and my father, my uncle David and my grandmother Ruth also work in the company. We love working together. Family businesses are exciting, but can also be challenging, as in any company. However, the positives far outweigh the negatives.'

The Cologne store
Adja currently manages the showroom in Cologne, which was launched in 2014 with business partners. 'We took over the showroom last October. It's been a great learning opportunity so far and a great way to connect directly with customers,' he shares.

The company primarily operates on a B2B model, working with retailers, other stores, and interior designers. However, the Cologne showroom offers a direct B2C experience. 'This is a point of contact we usually don't get. We work a lot with retailers, other stores or designers. So we don't hear much from the end-customers. Here, I can hear and see what works for their home. With our customisation possibilities, there's so much to discuss, so many ideas to be pitched back and forth.'

'We try to be present in all markets. We have other Jan Kath monobrand stores in Berlin, New York, and Vancouver, but we rely on local partners from London and Paris to Beirut and Sydney to understand the area and clientele. We can't be everywhere, so we need the right person with the right connections and knowledge about the carpets. Which is quite rare nowadays, it's quite a niche market.' Not a lot of people are "ruggies", as Adja calls his family.

The Cologne store, housed in a historic building that survived WWII spans over 350 m², offers a beautiful backdrop for the carpets. 'It's a unique space with bricks and arched ceilings, perfect for showcasing our designs.' The showroom features a mix of collections, emphasising timeless design over trends. 'I don't just show new collections. All our pieces are meant to be timeless. For instance, the Roma Vendetta, which won a Red Dot Design Award in 2008, the first award for Jan, is displayed near the door. We change the colours and designs in the showroom seasonally and showcase different pieces from our portfolio.'

Craftsmanship and tradition
The production of Jan Kath carpets is spread across Nepal, India, and Morocco, ensuring each piece is a testament to traditional craftsmanship. 'It's important for customers to touch and feel the material. We even opened our own museum in Nepal, showing every step of the production process. This helps people understand the tradition and effort behind each carpet.' Jan Kath's vision is to create "the antiques of tomorrow". This philosophy combines history with timeless design, ensuring their pieces remain relevant for decades. 'It's our aspiration to create pieces that will still be relevant in 50 or 60 years and longer, by making carpets with lasting quality and design,' says Adja.

More information:
Jan Kath
Cologne Store
Venloer Strasse 16
50672 Cologne, Germany
+49 (0) 221 94967 940
[email protected]