Designer Discourse: Fouad Mahfuz Discusses The Persian Rug Gallery
TABRIZ, HERIZ, BIJAR OR SERAPI? FOU MAHFUZ SPEAKS ON JOINING THE FAMILY BUSINESS AS A THIRD GENERATION RUG MERCHANT AT THE PERSIAN RUG GALLERY.
Fouad Mahfuz and his father, Sy, work side by side in the family business, Persian Rug Galleries in Nashua, New Hampshire. Fouad is the fourth generation to join the business.The Mahfuz family prides themselves on selling high-quality rugs, taking the time to help customers choose the right design, and educating clients when it comes to variations in quality. But that isn’t always easy in today’s price-driven market.
Learn more about the Fouad Mahfuz and the family business in the latest Designers Discourse.
Q: Have you always known that you would join the family business?
A: No. In fact, growing up it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I really loved it when I was a young kid, up until about 13 or 14, and then as I got into adolescence my ideas changed. I got really interested in film and photography. So I went to Emerson College for film. At the time there wasn’t a lot of work in the film industry in Boston, so I ended up in London for a while working for a startup company.
I struggled to figure things out for about five or six years, and in London I got really homesick and started to think, “Wow, this might not be the right career path for me.” I called my dad and just threw it out there and said, “What if I decided to take a shot? What if I took it seriously?” So we gave ourselves a two-year window and said if we’re going to kill each other or it’s just not working out, we’ll part ways as friends and father and son. The first two years were really tough, and it wasn’t an easy transition for me after being away from home after eight years. But we haven’t killed each other. And the great part is, the more I’m here the more we get along. I made the right decision.
Q: When people come to you looking for a rug but they’re not sure what they want, what do you offer them for advice?
A: That’s actually the best part about our company - we’re not just a store. We’re more like designers or interior decorators. We first want to educate you on the type of products we offer, the price points and the qualities. We teach customers about why an 8x10 rug can be $899 or $1,500 or $2,500 and on. We show people the difference in quality between those rugs so they’re able to make an educated decision.
Q: Do you have a favorite type of rug - antique or oriental?
A: I prefer antique rugs, definitely. But I also like Nepalese rugs and more contemporary arts and crafts designs. My dad is a real traditionalist, so I grew up with very traditional rugs. I’m more on the rustic, contemporary side. I like character, and I like things that were made a long time ago that are kind of eclectic or off the beaten path. And I’ve been like that with everything. When I was into movies I always went for obscure movies. I’m into music, and I always like to find bands that nobody listens to. I go searching for things that don’t you find at every store.
Q: How is your house decorated?
A: I would say it’s eclectic. I’ve traveled a bit in my life, and I’m very artistic/creative. I just go buy what I like when I need it. If I find pieces that I think suit my style, I make them work. I really like movie posters, so I have maybe five. I like art, and I like old cameras. I have a small collection of old cameras, too. I’m still single, too, and I live alone, so people always tell me that my house is very masculine. I don’t have the woman’s touch yet in my place.
Q: Are there any misconceptions or things people don’t know about rugs?
A: We saw this as the economy was taking a dive. The amount of low-priced rugs on the market is crazy right now. They have sales in hotels, and tents and parking lots. There are flea markets and Building 19-type stores.
There are deals out there, and I’m not afraid of losing a sale if someone finds a great deal on a really nice rug. But if you’re not an educated buyer, a good rule is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are reasons those rugs are close-out or low-priced merchandise.