Iris Apfel is by far the coolest 101-year-old we’ve ever met—we’ll start there.
The self-proclaimed “accidental icon” and “geriatric starlet” has been a force in fashion and interior design for decades. Instantly recognizable by her now-iconic round spectacles, Apfel lives her motto of “more is more and less is a bore” in both her fashion and interior design aesthetic. Now she’s bringing 101 years of personal style to a new washable rug collection with Ruggable.
The fashionable centenarian has spent years curating both her homes (and her closet) with an eclectic abundance of beloved objects. If you entered her New York City apartment, you’d be greeted by an extensive mixture of high and low, flea market finds meet antique or designer pieces. “I’m crazy about fabrics. Inexpensive ones, 18th century ones. I just love them all,” Apfel explains. “I’ve always loved textiles. I just fell into them and never got up.”
Iris’s love for fabrics is not new. As a young girl and only child, she often accompanied her parents to parties or family gatherings. To keep her entertained, her grandmother would let her play with fabric scraps, which sharpened her eye for design, color and texture. If she did an acceptable job of organizing her grandmother’s fabrics, Apfel would be allowed to keep her favorite swatches. It ended up becoming the seed for her passion for textiles. “It stood me in good stead,” Apfel muses. Good stead, indeed—she eventually worked on design restoration projects at the White House for nine American presidents. “So thank you, Grandma!”
As someone who’s loved researching and designing textiles for decades, her Ruggable collection has been one of her proudest moments to date. Apfel is all too familiar with the dreaded red wine spill on an antique rug and found the spill-proof technology particularly brilliant. “You throw it in the washing machine and you have a brand new rug. It’s absolutely spellbinding.”
Her collection of 15 washable rugs and 5 washable doormats is an invitation to explore your own personal style and challenge trends and traditions. The pieces are joyful, fun, colorful, and the ideal place to start getting inspired. But Apfel insists you must style the room yourself: “You’ve got to know who you are. Don’t listen to the experts, listen to yourself. Listen to what you love.”
When it comes to designing a room, though, she has one piece of sage advice: “You start with the rug,” Iris explains. “The rug is pregnant with possibilities—you can do so many different things. That’s the logical place to start.”
We sat down with Iris to chat about her favorite rug from the collection, her thoughts on trends, and the secret to finding your personal style.
R: What excites you about this collection?
Iris Apfel: It’s big, bold, beautiful and quite different. It’s not like anything else on the market—I think it will make you smile.
Q: How would you describe your design style?
A: Very eclectic. I don’t go by any rules.
Q: Which rug is your favorite from the collection?
A: I love all my children equally… they are all terrific. They all have a specific flair and specific target and specific client in mind. But if push came to shove, I’m nuts about the On Safari zebra rug.
Q: Any tips for styling this rug?
A: My On Safari zebra rug is smashing, and it can be used in a room where it is the predominant feature in the room. It can be hung on a wall or used on the floor. Or just part of the décor.
Q: Your personal style is iconic. What advice would you give to those looking to develop their own unique style, both in their homes and personally?
A: First of all, the aesthetic for both is the same. You have to first learn who you are, what you can handle and what you like. It takes some work. Most people follow the crowd and that’s not interesting—trends are only good for business, and for people who don’t want to think. Everybody was born with the ability to have a personality and a viewpoint.
Inspired yet? Check out the rest of the Ruggable x Iris Apfel Collection on Ruggable.com, available now!