Shop Talk

Famed for His Carpets, Ben Soleimani Now Covers the Whole Home

Ben Soleimani portrait

Los Angeles–based Ben Soleimani recently launched an eponymous line of  home furnishings — including carpets, the area in which he made his name (portrait by Santiago Turienzo). Top: Fibers used in Soleimani’s rugs dry in the sun. Artisans use natural pigments to hand dye the yarns (photo by T. Mulugeta). All images courtesy of Ben Soleimani unless otherwise noted

Ben Soleimani is already a maestro of rugs. Over the past three decades, he has helped change the way many people think about floor coverings, fostering a shift from traditional Persian motifs to contemporary designs awash in nuanced color, free-form patterns and appealing textures.

Now, he is expanding his focus beyond what lies underfoot. With his new eponymous company, Soleimani is offering a broad range of products, including furniture, lighting, bedding, trays, vases and candles, which together embody a complete vision for the upscale home and an aesthetic that emphasizes texture, calm and freshness.

“The rugs, of course, are still the foundation for everything,” says Soleimani. “But I have a lot more to offer. This is about a lifestyle. I have my own look, my own understanding and my own knowledge I want to bring to the world.”

Ben Soleimani Weston floor lamp Sussex chair

A brass Weston floor lamp stands beside an Italian leather Sussex chair.

Soleimani has never been short on ambition — or business savvy. He was born in Iran and raised in London, where in 1984 his parents established the celebrated rug dealer Mansour (the company earned a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales in 2002). As a teen, he decamped to Los Angeles to establish a showroom for the firm there. Once this outpost was up and running, he launched Mansour Modern to offer carpets with more contemporary designs, including collections he created with such top designers as Victoria Hagan, Michael S. Smith and Kerry Joyce.

“I started working full-time at the age of seventeen,” says Soleimani, now 48. “Back then, rugs were just something you bought when you went to Turkey or certain other countries, in isolation from the rest of the design package. Ninety-five percent of them were blue-and-red rugs — a patterned, loud thing that you put on the floor. So I worked very hard to change the way rugs were perceived. I saw them more as part of interior design. Matching colors, creating unity and doing custom designs only came with time.”

Ben Soleimani Benton dining chairs Sedgwick dining table Performance Distressed rug Woods credenza Raine side table

Left: Benton dining chairs surround a Sedgwick dining table on a Performance Distressed rug. Against the left wall is a Woods credenza. Right: For his Raine side table, Soleimani pairs a hand-tacked brass-panel pedestal with a richly textured blackened-iron top.

Where color and pattern are concerned, whether in rugs or furniture, Soleimani likes to keep things very clean. “Less is more,” he says. “That has always been my approach, along with a focus on texture and practicality.”

Gary Friedman, the chairman and CEO of Restoration Hardware, took note and in 2010, when the retailer was in the midst of a major expansion, partnered with Soleimani to design its carpets. Before long Soleimani had become the company’s highly visible textile guru.

Ben Soleimani Roche ottoman Artemis barrel chair Arbor bench Cade leather serving tray Muir brass sculpture Harper sofa Lux floor lamp Multi-Moroccan rug

A Roche ottoman and Artemis barrel chair face off across an Arbor bench, used here as a coffee table. Atop the bench are a Cade leather serving tray and Muir brass sculpture. Behind it, a Harper sofa is illuminated by a Lux floor lamp. A Multi-Moroccan rug covers the floor.

Soleimani earned his rug-selling chops at Mansour, which operates at the high end of the market; partnering with RH taught him how to reach the broader market. In his new company, he is applying the lessons learned from both experiences. “We’re creating top-level home goods. The materials we use are of the highest quality, from all around the world,” he says. Even so, the prices aren’t astronomical. The brass Raine side table, which has a sculptural cinched waist, is $640; the Bauhaus-inspired Rives dining table, made from thick slabs of solid oak, is $2,220; the monumental Weston cantilevered brass floor lamp is $1,880; and gracious upholstered sofas start at under $3,000.

Ben Soleimani Lerah rug oversize cashmere throw

An oversize cashmere throw from the Soleimani collection appears to float over the Lerah rug, which is made of hand-knotted New Zealand wool. Photo by Dan McMahon

Rugs, of course, remain a primary focus, and are similarly affordable, ranging from understated flatweave wool designs for $795 to luxuriously plush Moroccan wool designs beginning at $1,295.

“When your prices are fair, some people think, ‘Oh, the quality must not be at the top,’ ” Soleimani says. “That’s simply not true.”

How does he maintain accessible price points even as he focuses on creating high-quality goods? “We run a lean business, we manufacture directly, and we assemble things where people are good at working by hand and achieving what we need in the most efficient way,” he says.

Ben Soleimani Los Angeles studio

Soleimani reviews his renderings for new collections in his L.A. studio. Photo by  T. Brando

Currently, Soleimani’s company, which launched last year, sells online, notably at his 1stdibs storefront, and through a street-level showroom on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. There, an exterior mural displaying the words “truth” and “love,” which Soleimani commissioned from the artist Ruben Rojas, welcomes visitors. He expects to open a New York showroom later this year, followed by additional U.S. outposts. “We’re going to open twenty stores around the country in major cities,” he says. “I think it’s important for people to be able to see and touch, to understand the quality.”

Currently, he’s focused on expanding the company’s collections. “I have so much coming, and not a single thing gets made without my say. I have a design team, but I critique and sign off on everything,” he says. “We’re designing things that are real, practical and usable.”

If that means facing new challenges beyond the world of rug production, Soleimani is more than ready to take them on. “I always ask myself, ‘What’s the maximum I can learn and grow today?’ That’s how I live my life, from the moment I open my eyes in the morning to the moment I close them at night,” he says. “We are building this company to be a real player in the top-end home-goods market.”

Talking Points

Ben Soleimani shares his thoughts on a few choice pieces from his company.

“One of my favorites, thanks to its simple lines and the materials used. The leather is tanned using water from the Italian Alps, which gives it a beautiful rich hand that will only get better with time.”

“I love a piece that makes a statement. This piece feels like sculpture to me.”

“The Arcadia table is all about craftsmanship. So many subtle details create the whole here: A slight harlequin pattern is inlaid into the rich and rare milpa wood, while angled edges and tapered legs finish the piece beautifully.”

“Our parchment pieces were some of the first we created for the collection. They have a vintage vibe, but they’re still modern and relevant. And the texture is fantastic.”

“I am known for being the first to simplify traditional rugs. The Ashra is my reinterpretation of an antique Oushak. I take great care to honor the past while making room for the future.”

“By far, one of the most comfortable sofas you will ever sit on”

“For me, quality is the ultimate in sophistication. Real silk provides this rug with a beautiful, luminous texture. The piece hits all the notes of what I love in design — it’s simple, luxuriously tactile and wonderfully textured.”

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