Austin-based designer Kyle Bunting has been redefining and elevating the hide rug craft for over 15 years with contemporary, intricate patterns and surprising, kaleidoscopic colors. Impeccably constructed with the finest materials, these rugs are works of art in their own right—and make for happy feet.
What inspired you to work with cowhide?
When I was a kid, my father made rugs, wallcoverings, and other decorative items out of hide. I always thought the items he created were beautiful, but at the time he didn’t have the capacity or resources to develop it as a business. It was something that was always enduring to me, so when I could, I took the idea and ran with it.
Usually, those looking for rugs consider more traditional materials like wool, silk, and perhaps synthetics. Why should they consider hide rugs instead?
The level of color saturation and texture generated in hides’ reaction to light is unique. The material makes monochromatic rugs anything but mundane. Having created this category of carpets, clearly we’re partial.
What we noticed about your hide rugs is just how beautiful the colors are. They seem so vibrant. Is it because of how the hide takes dye, or do you use a special dye that makes richer colors?
Both. Our dyes are proprietary and also UV resistant. We also dye our hides (2-3 times) in order to create a richer, deeper color. The full saturation also assists in the antiquing of the rugs.
What design is your favorite right now and why?
Like children, there are no favorites, I love them all.
Your patchwork rugs aren’t the typical kind that come to mind when people hear the word “patchwork” — so many of these are almost like mosaics, in that they are so detailed and intricate. How have you perfected this process?
My first carpet, which was created in August of 2001, was 30 square feet. Since then, I’ve created over 500,000 feet of product using the same process I perfected over 18 years ago. As they say, practice makes perfect.
How long does it take to produce such intricate designs?
We express to clients that the only limitation to what we can do is their imagination. That being said, once a design is approved, our standard lead time is 6-8 weeks, usually less.
So many designers outsource their work, but you and your team piece together each rug in your studio in Austin. Why is it important for you to have a hand in the production process?
It is one of the things we’re most proud of. Our ability to design and produce under one roof allows us to be faster, more creative, and ensure the product is up to the standard of quality that our customers have grown to expect. Attention to detail is more than a hallmark, it’s a mission.
Where are your favorite places to go in Austin for inspiration?
Austin is amazing, but for me it’s home and a place to reconnect with the work and my world. It’s a cliche, but most of what grabs me happens away from home. I travel a lot, and that fresh perspective helps open the eyes.
Did you always want to design rugs?
Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. When I was little, I wanted to play in the NBA. Turns out, I was too slow, short, etc. for that. In college, I dreamed of running a movie studio, but overlooked the fact that I’m a Texan and those jobs are in LA. Next, I started making rugs and became a design brand — who knew? Part of me always knew this business was possible, but it took me 32 years to realize it was my calling.