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Crazy about carpets

Hayk “Hayko” Oltaci remembers the day he realized he had a passion for rugs    02/06/2010

by Silva Harapetian
Armenian Reporter

Crazy about carpets

by Silva Harapetian

Published: Saturday December 06, 2008

Hayko Oltaci helps a student learn to weave a small rug.

Photo Credit Silva Sergenian

Hayko Fine Rugs and Tapestries

New York – “My grandfather gave me a Turkish rug when I was 17,” he says. “It was damaged and we gave it to a repairman. He did a terrible job. He ruined the rug. I remember thinking I could do a better job.”

Less than a year later, Hayko left Turkey and moved to France to live, study, and work with his cousin, who owned a carpet business. There, he tried going to school but dropped out in his third year and began working full-time at his cousin’s carpet shop. “I learned how to repair rugs,” he recalls. “I liked knotting and repairing. It was a hobby.”

Hayko says he watched other skilled rug weavers and restoration experts and taught himself and developed his technique by trial and error. “The most important part of weaving and repair is matching the thread color,” he explains. “You can have a restoration that’s perfect, the weaving is perfect, but if it’s the wrong color, it will show.Top-quality restoration is invisible.”

Hayko’s work is on display in galleries and auction houses all over the world, but you can’t see it. He says that’s the point.

At his shop, custom-mixed colors are used to dye individual yarns to the precise shade of the carpet, no matter how old or faded it may be. “Imagine trying to match 300-year old colors, fibers, and patterns so precisely that the repair work is completely undetectable,” he says. It’s that passion for artistic work and perfection that makes Hayko one of the most sought-after fine-rug and tapestry experts in the world.

From his years in France to the United States, from a hobby to a business, Hayko has made a name for himself as not only an expert but also, as one customer described, “a man of integrity.” Hayko opened his business, Hayko Fine Rugs & Tapestries, a few years after he arrived in New York. It’s been more than 15 years and he is still as excited as the first day he began.

Today his establishment features some of the finest examples of the ancient art of weaving to be found anywhere, in all price ranges – from museum-quality pieces worth hundreds of thousands to one-of-a-kind rugs including his personal and rare collection of Armenian rugs. In Hayko’s store, rugs hang on all the walls from floor to ceiling. He says his customers comment on “the wonderful aroma of natural wool yarns, a delicious scent that makes you feel almost as if you have been transported to the heart of the ancient section of Istanbul.” He has a workroom in the back, where skilled weavers work on a variety of projects.

Teaching the craft

Hayko loves educating his customers. “You can buy a rug simply because you feel a special connection with it,” he says. “Fine rugs and tapestries are works of art; no two are alike. Each is as individual as a beautiful painting or sculpture. When you find the right one for you, it’s almost like falling in love.” One client who recently purchased a very expensive rug said, “I bought my first little Sarouk from Hayko when we first met more than 20 years ago. As I became able to afford more expensive pieces, I have always returned to Hayko. I wouldn’t think of going to anyone else. Hayko is a true gentleman, and absolutely honest. He once actually told me not to pay as much as I was prepared to pay for a rug because it wasn’t as good an example of its kind as I wanted. I have become what you might call a serious collector, and Hayko has guided me every step of the way.”

Recently, Hayko was able to make one of his other dreams a reality. “It has been a lifelong passion to teach the younger generations about the craft,” he explains. “I started 15 years ago, when a customer asked me to teach his wife how to repair rugs. She was in the store once a week for five years. She came all the time, but I was too busy to start classes back then. But I have dedicated my time to offering classes. It has always been my dream to run rug-weaving workshops from my store and pass on the secrets of rug-weaving.”

Today Hayko holds weaving classes once a week. He began with a small group of Armenians. The classes have grown into a popular pastime for people of all cultures. His customers love it and consider the classes relaxing. Hayko also runs weaving circles. It’s an opportunity for his students to learn, weave, and socialize.

Hayko’s expertise, reputation, and passion for the art have helped keep his business alive. His choice of career has not always been good for his pocketbook. There have been times when he has struggled to make ends meet. But his passion for rugs and the craft, along with his perseverance and determination, have trumped the bottom line. “I love doing this,” he says. “You have to love what you do, otherwise you can’t be successful.”

Ritz-Carlton magazine: editor’s letter

Ritz-Carlton magazine: editor’s  letter: devoted to the arts    07/01/2008

Jamie M. Hoffman
Ritz-Carlton magazine

Jamie M. Hoffman

devoted to the arts

The Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world celebrate and sup- port the arts in so many unique ways, we felt it was important now to present some of these experiences in our magazine.

Considering the beautiful objects and collections we display in our hotels and resorts, the local exhibitions we underwrite and partner with, and the launch of the new Ritz-Carlton Film Se- ries (which you can read more about in our profile of cinematog- rapher Joshua Hess on page 154), it’s more timely than ever to introduce — or re-introduce, as the case may be — the people who literally design, create and color our world.

What better way to announce this special issue than with an original work of art on our cover? Having the opportunity to review the work of illustrators from around the world was a real treat for me, and when we decided to commission a piece by the international artist Brett Ryder, I was thrilled with the beauti- ful piece he came up with. The more I look at it and its sugges- tion that we are virtually limitless in how our imaginations can fly forth, the more I feel it portrays not only who we are as a brand, but what we truly offer our guests in the way of thrilling experiences in the arts. From Picasso exhibits in our lobbies to nature programs on our beaches to packages that let our guests get behind the scenes at local museums, The Ritz-Carlton celebrates the arts every single day.

When I was in Palm Beach recently, I noticed the unique collection of “shoes” in the presidential suite (anytime I see shoes I am auto- matically intrigued — what girl is not?). The story behind the design of these shoes and the artist who creates them is fascinating, as is the curation of the glass and sculpture collection at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. You’ll see those and more about making a hotel room feel more like a home in our story “Hotel, um … Art?” on page 136.

Deciding which craftspeople to profile for our “In Studio” feature on page 127 was an artistic exercise in its own right. We had to narrow a list of more than 15 fascinating people down to four, and I’m sure you’ll like whom we have decided to focus on. I am especially touched by Turkish-Armenian rug designer Hayk Oltaci’s story about how he become involved in restoring these precious works of art.

Finally, though not technically part of the art theme, this issue’s spa feature does have its artistic elements — and a very special meaning for me. When I was pregnant last year, one of my favorite ways to relax was to enjoy several maternity-specific massages and the VIP treat- ment one receives at our properties when one is a “nurturer to be.” You’ll learn all about that (and the fabulous Mama Mio products that go with these treatments) on page 148. I’m still enjoying the line’s Tummy Rub and Shrink to Fit lotions even with no baby on the way. Have a great summer. We hope to see you around the world,

Jamie M. Hoffman

Corporate Manager, Marketing

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

 

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Ritz Carlton

Ritz-Carlton magazine: 4 in Studio     07/01/2008

by Karlin McCarthy
Ritz-Carlton magazine

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVEN VOTE

 4in Studio

They are world-class entrepreneurs, but artists at heart. They find inspiration in a piece of fabric, a rooftop or an empty stage — wherever a blank canvas exists upon which innovation takes flight. Indeed, when it comes to theater set and costume designer Garance Marneur, weaver and restorer Hayk Oltaci, furniture architect Werner Aisslinger and fashion legend Miuccia Prada, their legacies will not be defined by sales and merchandising. They will instead be remembered for the passion they brought to their craft.

Name: Hayk Oltaci

Where in the world: New York, where his busines, Hayko Fine Rugs and Tapestries, has operated at 857 Lexington Ave. (at 65th Street) for 12 years.

Known for: Celebrating his heritage through sublime rug designs. Oltaci’s showroom is the place where patrons worldwide coming for the finest in authentic rugs. He works closely with museums, private collectors and auction houses such as Christie’s, often over Turkish coffee. Born in Istanbul to Armenian parents, he came to New York City in 1988 with his wife (both of his daughters were born in the U.S.). He learned his craft while living in Strasbourg, France, for 10 years.

Quote: “Above all things, an honorable and forthright relationship is by far the most important thing to me.”

What inspires him: An experience from his youth sparked a lifelong pursuit of excellence, as Oltaci explains: “My grandfather gave me a beautiful Turkish prayer rug from the Konya Ladik region when I was 17. There was a hole in the center of the rug and the selvage end was missing. We knew a repair man and we brought it to him. Three months later, we got it back. My heart was broken; it was horrible what they did to it. They put a patch on the hole and cut off the ends! It looked like a cheap machine-made rug. This rug had been a beautiful work of art, like a great painting. Now it was ruined by bad repair. I knew at that moment I wanted to help save these great works of art from my country.”

Next projects: Oltaci will be conducting classes in the ancient art of rug weaving every month, a way to share his passion with patrons. “Most of our clients are by now old friends — they come back over and over through the years,” he says. “We greatly value these long-term relationships. We hope to meet more new friends and look forward to working with them in the coming years.” (To find out more, go to http://www.meetup.com/rug-weaving/ or call Oltaci’s showroom at  212-717-5400

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Our Mission

Company Philosophy

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With an innate cultural attraction to the art of rug weaving and well over 35 years of hands-on experience, Hayko’s mission is to provide the ultimate service to his customers in sales, repairs, and cleaning of fine Oriental rugs and European tapestries.

Building long-term business relationships with our clients is the most important aspect of our mission.

 

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