by Donna Kakonge
Alan Pourvakil’s accomplishments are luxurious, award-winning, and good for your health. He is the owner and designer of W Studio—a large, impressive building that houses fine carpets.
He was born in Iran, a country famous for its Persian rugs. He came to Canada in 1988 at the age of 20 and started working in the carpet business a year later. He had no experience at the time, but learned about the art of carpet making at the International Academy of Design.
In 1990, he started a rug warehousing business in Richmond Hill and hired a handful of designers. Six years later, he opened his own retail business. He started out selling mainly Persian rugs, but after about a year he realized that people were tired of repetition.
“We looked for things that were softer on the eyes, more open, that would fit into today’s lifestyle, things that were not necessarily made in Iran,” says Pourvakil. “My approach was different; I wanted to find out what someone needed and try to find that carpet. We have to…find out what they like and what is right for the room.”
Pourvakil says each rug has a soul; he calls it art for the fifth wall. “It’s the largest piece of art in a room. It’s the most important piece of art in a room. A carpet can take months, if not years, to be done…It does have lots of personality.
It not only has to reflect the user, it has to be right for the space.”
W Studio seems to be accomplishing its mandate. It has garnered over 30 national and international design awards. Another big project it has been involved in is the expansion of the new Royal Ontario Museum, with an exhibit on China, Korea, Japan, and the First Nations peoples. Pourvakil also been involved with the Textile and Carpet Museum and National Ballet School, and his charity work includes Fashion Cares, Reach for the Rainbow, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Sick Kids Foundation.
Pourvakil has also made several television appearances including on HGTV, Life TV, and CityTV. Pourvakil uses only wool, silk, and cotton in his carpets—no synthetics. “We believe in the air quality of a room,” he says. “Sick buildings are a concern for [us]. It’s a healthy choice and people are so concerned about the air that we breathe. If you have young children you should stay away from broadloom or synthetic fabrics. Also the artistic part of the value is lost. You lose the soul of the rug. This is a craft that has been carried on for thousands of years.”
Nowadays people have a need for a big area rug and Pourvakil says that size is very important. A lot of floors are hardwood, granite, slate, or tile and you need something to cover the space in order to bring life to the room.
One of the most appealing things about carpets is their ability to reduce noise. “You definitely need that,” says Pourvakil. “For many people that’s exactly the reason [they buy a carpet], to reduce sound pollution.”
Pourvakil has high ambitions for his craft. “When I first started out I worked with a PR woman who asked me where you want this company to be, and I said I want this to be the biggest carpet business in the world with locations all over the world,” says Pourvakil.
“Her jaw dropped and she said I have big dreams. Yes, I have big dreams…You can’t mass produce something and expect to be the best. I want to be the best design house and the most socially conscious business.”