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Designers, License Partners

Thom Filicia Dives into Rugs with Feizy

Celebrity interior designer Thom Filicia is already living with some of his new area rugs by Feizy, and in this exclusive Q&A he explains why his design approach begins from the ground up.

Lisa Vincenti
Thom Filicia in his living room with his two dogs
Designer Thom Filicia showcases his new rug collection with Feizy in his New York City apartment.

NEW YORK -- Interior designer and TV celebrity Thom Filicia, sought out for his timeless yet timely interiors, takes his take on design to the floor with a new area rug line under his eponymous home furnishings label, Thom Filicia Home Collection.

The New York-based designer, who also operates a trade showroom, Sedgwick & Brattle in the NY Design Center at 200 Lexington Ave., is launching his new rug program with partner Feizy at the High Point Market in June.

Filicia, who decided in the sixth grade he wanted to be an architect or designer, graduated from Syracuse University and made his mark at renowned design firms, including Parish-Hadley, Robert Metzger and Bilhuber & Associates, before striking out on his own in 1998.

His design portfolio is diverse and he counts among his clients stars such as Tina Fey and Jennifer Lopez, and distinct properties including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels and Grace Bay Club. However, Filicia gained nationwide notoriety when he was cast as the interior design expert on the Emmy-winning breakout hit “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” a series that launched in 2003 and ran its final episode in October 30, 2007.

In 2008, his design career took another turn and he entered the world of product design launching his eponymous home collection with a line of furniture from Vanguard and fabrics from Kravet. Today, his Thom Filicia Home Collection has grown to include everything from artwork by Wendover Art Group, bedding and pillows by Eastern Accents, wall coverings by MDC and Winfield Thybony, and more.

"Our Thom Filicia Collection is something that is timely and timeless," the designer said. "It is this space that I live in and feel most comfortable being in. I love the idea of, whether it's clothing or any design that is around us, I love things that are really of the moment, what's interesting and vibrant at that moment, but that is also taking from historical elements and is also something that is rooted in the quality, the traditions, motifs," he told RugNews.com.

The new Thom Filicia Home capsule rug collection will be on show at the June High Point Market at Feizy's Market Square showroom. Shown, Berwyn

"A lot of times the things we are doing are an explosion of very traditional concepts: we start there and we take our inspiration from things that have existed, but we want to see them in a new and fresh way. I always look for balance in my designs, and that is a key element for me -- that balance between timely and timeless. One keeps it fresh and current and one keeps it real and grounded. When you create that balance you create really beautiful fresh ideas that will look good in 20 years."

Now he brings his design ethos to the floor with a new collection of area rugs full of texture and featuring enduring neutral palettes. RugNews.com sits down with Filicia -- who will be at the Feizy showroom for a special meet and greet on Saturday June 5 from 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. -- to find out how area rugs fit into his interior designs and his evolution from a rug enthusiast to an area rug designer.

Thom Filicia designed a collection of area rugs he wants to live with, and the first rugs are now incorporated into his New York City home. Shown, Sutton

Why did you decide to create your new Thom Filicia Home Collection rugs?

TF: We are excited because these are the rugs we are looking for and can't find.

Can you tell us a little about your new capsule rug collection?

TF: Great design tells a story of where you've been, where you are and where you're going, and the Thom Filicia Home Collection for Feizy will strive to do just that by offering a stylish collection that has a distinctively timely yet timeless perspective — where refined mixes with raw, industrial plays against the organic, and color, material and texture are used in thoughtful ways to create a collection with a classic, tailored and sophisticated point of view.

Our debut pieces will focus heavily on texture and feature timeless neutral palettes with pops of color throughout. The initial Thom Filicia Home Collection for Feizy will represent a variety of constructions at an accessible price point, and planning is already underway to expand the Thom Filicia product offering to Feizy’s Fine Collection as well.

Easy to decorate with neutral palettes and textured designs are the hallmark of the Thom Filicia rug collection by Feizy. Shown, Fenner

Tell us a little about your signature style?

TF: Thom Filicia Inc. is a firm that has commercial and residential clients all over the US and outside the US. We do a lot of different things but there is a common thread -- a real clarity to what we do -- if a project leans toward traditional it still has a really clean and crisp point of view. If we are doing something more modern, we take the same approach. We tend to do a warm take on modern and a cool one on traditional.

What do you look for in rugs and why are rugs so important to a space?

TF: I sort of build rooms from the ground up. The rug for me is one of those design elements or decorative elements or art elements in a space that will really set tone and create that springboard for the palette of the room. Whether you are talking about the materiality of a rug architecturally, how you are balancing those elements, and also of course of dealing with the fabrics that make a space come together and feel inviting, chic and fabulous.

I really like spaces that look great and that are interesting and draw you in, that are comfortable, inviting and authentic. They tell story and connect with the architecture, the location and the people or person or the brand that we are designing for.

What were some of the first rug collections you fell in love with?

TF: The first collections that I really, really loved are in my country house, my lake house. And I really wanted rugs that could put up with my dogs, my friends' dogs, my drunk friends and me, and that indoor outdoor lifestyle with water and boats and bathing suits and wine glasses. So I wanted something that could hold up to that but also something that felt timeless and made sense of the house, which was built in 1917, and although I modernized it about 12 years ago, it still feels like an old lake house -- it is sort of a fresh take on that.

What I loved about the Berkeley rug in my living room. It almost looks like your favorite kind of cashmere cable-knit sweater, but a cool one, not a traditional one. It's kind of architectural and clean. It has that sort of timeless look but in a way that felt fresh and young and it merged with the overall balance I tried to create in the interior of that house. Aesthetically it was really beautiful, and people love it, sit on it, the dogs are always on it. That was something I was thinking about, it's a 10x13 rug and it's just dogs lying all over it and it kind of keeps the surface on the sofas and chairs available for humans, which is nice.

Richly textured designs in Thom Filicia debuts his new rug collection with Feizy.

You have your showroom in NYC, how do you merchandise rugs?

TF: A couple things, one we use area rugs in our vignettes. And we also started bringing samples into the office, to touch the rug, feel it and connect with it, which is really important with this type of product because when our designers were looking in brochures or online that didn't have the same connection for them. So I always encourage people whenever they are dealing with rugs to really connect with a sample somehow because you have a different emotional reaction to it.

For our Feizy rugs, the lead times are amazing, products are in-stock which is the dream of all dreams from a designer's standpoint, and the quality is great and the value is great. It makes sense for us as a business to have product available quickly. Sometimes we are waiting almost a year for a rug and it is just great to have this as a resource.

Having rugs and samples for us was a game-changer. When we really started investing and getting the designers in the office up to speed we noticed across the board, with all our partners, and the designers we work with, when they come in, we have the right sales tools and design tools for them and business really starts to take off. Something we like to do at market is meet with and connect with all of the different designers coming in to all of the different showrooms that we are in. I think it changes how they connect with and see the product.

What were some of the most important criteria for you when designing your Thom Filicia collection rugs?

TF: I wanted create a line where every piece we would use as a design firm and that every piece we are launching could be used together. It could be used in our showrooms in New York and at High Point Market. Every piece fits in our world from our clients at Thom Filicia Inc., to our showroom, Sedgwick & Brattle, and our furniture showrooms.

Also, a lot of the colors I like in rugs almost work as neutrals -- what we wanted to do with our first collection, we wanted there to be color that you could really build on, live with and design with.

Thom Filicia's Weatherfield rug pairs a soft yellow and gray -- one of his favorite combinations.

Tell us about some of your favorite area rug designs from your new collection.

TF: We were able to play with scale and color, some designs feature a mossy Loden with silvery gray and blue gray -- it's a beautiful palette -- it's sophisticated, inviting and cool [linear line rug] and I also love this really natural exaggerated pattern. And Seneca features a simple take on a floral, something that was a little bit more feminine but doing it in this sort of natural kind of chunky, heavily textured pile.

What can your clients expect from your Feizy partnership?

TF: The most beautiful rugs they have ever seen in their lives. I think they are part of the world of really stylish, and gorgeous and amazing rugs -- and we will use them [in our own projects].

When a designer is making product, if you go to the designer's house and they don't have their stuff in their house -- don't buy their s***. If they are not willing to live with it, then why should you. When you design product, you should practice what you preach, and I am really excited about this product and living with it and using it in our projects with all of our clients.

Where will people be able to find this new rug collection?

TF: We will be showing it at High Point in the Feizy showroom and also at the Vanguard showroom, and at Sedgwick & Brattle in the Design Center. They will be on our website and the Feizy website too.

Thom Filicia and Feizy will host a special meet and greet in the company's High Point Market showroom during the June event.

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