From the left: Daniele Lora, Fabrizio Cantoni, Nelcya Chamszadeh
cc-tapis® was set up in 2011 by two young people from the prestigious Maison Chamszadeh, famous for the quality of its traditional hand-tied Persian carpets. The creative heart of the company is in Milan where new ideas for products that are a balance of skill, colour and geometry are hatched every day, thanks to a close-knit team of designers under the helm of art director Daniele Lora. Fabrizio and Nelcya not only produce wonderful rugs, handmade in Tibet by expert craftsmen, but continue to experiment tirelessly. These experiments are not simply limited to aesthetics, with products ranging from classic to contemporary (right up to marvellous hybrids with the power to trigger daydreams about rooms or whole houses that take shape around them, as well as being pictured in an existing home), but also involve the methods and techniques of hand-tying and the materials. Theirs is an innovative and eco-friendly approach to tradition. All cc-tapis® rugs are created from untreated materials (the softest hand-spun Himalayan wool) and washed with purified rainwater. No chemical products, acid or artificial fibres are used in the process. A world away from mass production, cc-tapis® creates memories of journeys, of faraway times and places, tangible emotions and colours for laying, gently, in the spaces of our hearts and our homes.
Interview to Nelcya Chamszadeh and Fabrizio Cantoni
Who are Nelcya Chamszadeh and Fabrizio Cantoni?
Nelcya - I was born in Strasburg, France, to an Iranian dad and a French mum. I met Fabrizio at hotel management school in Lausanne 25 years ago and we got married in Portofino.
Fabrizio - I was born in the mountain region of Bormio, in Italy. My mom was English and my dad was Italian. As a couple, we are very much in love, but at cc-tapis we are partners, along with Daniele Lora.
Initially we wanted to live in New York, but Nelcya’s father suggested we go to Strasburg to work with him. He was in the carpet industry, producing traditional Persian carpets.
What do the two Cs in the brand name stand for?
Nelcya - CC comes from Cantoni and Chamszadeh, the name was launched 20 years ago in France when there were just two of us and we started the brand. Since we’ve been in Italy there have been three of us.
Fabrizio - A trio that works very well because I take care of the commercial part, Nelcya of the financial part and Daniele of the creative part.
What idea or emotion was behind cc-tapis? What’s your current inspiration?
Fabrizio - cc-tapis was simply born of an intuition. I’ve worked with Nelcya's father, who makes traditional Persian rugs and I really enjoyed it, but the arabesques, the florets, etc. weren’t really our thing.
To be honest we also had some luck, sometimes you have to work a lot, but it is also important to have a bit of luck.
On a trip to Los Angeles we saw a carpet that I had never seen before and we found out that it was a Tibetan carpet.
Nelcya - And it could be customised, totally unlike Persian rugs. We realised that we could do it ourselves, especially Fabrizio, he was in charge of the creative side at first.
Fabrizio - The inspiration behind cc-tapis, what really makes it different, is that we treated the carpets as a project right from the outset. They are not merely decorative, they are part of a project, just as much as lighting and flooring materials are really part of a project for a house. Thanks to Daniele, we have opened up the world of carpets but with an architectural look.
I think that at the beginning this was what cc-tapis did differently.
My inspiration is all encompassing; I’m an admirer of Wedgwood vases, with their classic figurines, and of the pure minimalism of Ettore Spaletti and his paintings that do not look like paintings. And then we often work with designers whom we admire as professionals and as people.
What’s your relationship with design and creativity?
Fabrizio - When we actually started, I had never studied design before, and was kind of self-taught in the industry, had to trust my very “popular” taste, I mean, I know what people tend to like, and we tried to make carpets that would sell.
When we moved to Milan I did a master's degree at the Polytechnic School of Design and met Daniele, and thus the harmonious identity of cc-tapis was created.
What direction is the brand growing in?
Fabrizio - In my opinion, in the right direction. When the brand was launched, there were just three of us; Daniele and I said "let’s just try to make some beautiful carpets and see what happens" and Nelcya said “OK, va bene, but let’s try also to put food on the table for the next two years.”
Today there are 22 of us in Milan, and almost 400 craftsmen in Nepal and it’s a great result. I don’t think we can claim that we are three captains of industry with a far-ranging vision. We try to do things according to our own rhythm, one day after the other.
Now we have a solid commercial structure, with agents and representatives all over the world. I think that the next step for cc-tapis would be to become a monobrand.
Nelcya - But this is also a feeling, something that will come at the right moment. Our main objective is to continue to produce beautiful carpets with the same lightness of spirit as when we started. It’s important because it’s part of our DNA.
For me the most important thing is to keep our great team. When your company has 22 staff members, they are your company, and keeping the same lightness of spirit as when we started makes our team work with the heart more than with the head, with a genuine desire to keep aiming higher.
What does being at the Salone del Mobile.Milano mean to you?
Nelcya - It’s amazing! When we arrived in Milan, the most important thing for us was to take part in the Salone del Mobile. When we had the confirmation of our first Salone edition, we realised it was an important step forward in our development.
Fabrizio - It was the consolidation of the brand. We have a lot of drive, but the transition to the Salone del Mobile was fundamental, and we got there with a pure feeling, which makes us really proud of ourselves.
You’re one of the three companies to win the Salone del Mobile.Milan Award: surprise or satisfaction?
Fabrizio - Both! A big surprise and a huge satisfaction. We had never thought about it … It was a satisfaction because the stand really was a team effort, which means that our team really works well together and that makes us extremely proud.
Nelcya - We were so happy that I thought I was going to faint. True story. When they gave us the prize, I practically fell over.
Fabrizio - And she is not the kind of woman who does this!
Nelcya - Super excited, it was extremely important to us.