Danielle and I went to Sarasota, FL earlier this month to attend a gallery crawl in which our carpets were featured by one of our retailers, Art To Walk On. Our delightful hosts, John and Eileen Hampshire, were gracious enough to invite us to stay at their home for the weekend. John is an architect with a long and distinguished career; Eileen is an antique carpet dealer and an expert on Armenian carpets.
A few years ago, John was awarded a commission by the University of Notre Dame for work in one of their chapels. Eileen designed a carpet for the project which was based upon an antique Donegal design (the “Lisburn”), introducing notes of symbolism in both motif and color, which made the carpet unique and perfectly suited to the chapel. The carpet was produced on Donegal’s original looms in Killybegs. It was Eileen’s connection to Donegal Carpets which eventually brought us together.
For the gallery crawl, Eileen displayed some antique Donegal carpets and showcased a few pieces of our new production. The ruggie in me was especially gratified with the presentation of our Ardmore design adjacent to a gorgeous antique Armenian carpet. The evening was a smashing success, with more than 200 people through the doors in just a couple of hours. A talented pianist added to the ambience while Doug kept things running smoothly and Morris served Irish coffees all ’round.
The event was on Friday night, and we stayed with John and Eileen until Sunday. The weather wasn’t good by Sarasota standards (60ish and rainy), but we left during a terrible cold snap with temperatures in the -5F range, so we weren’t complaining.
Together, John and Eileen have built a fabulous business in a very short time at Art To Walk On. Of course, having had a retail oriental rug store in Toronto for many years, Eileen knows what she’s doing, and it’s obvious she has put that knowledge to use in Sarasota. John and Eileen’s standards for beauty, authenticity, and design excellence are inspiring, and we’re pleased and gratified by their appreciation of our work.