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Students work with Khan to design custom rugs

Heath E. Combs, Thomas Lester -- Furniture Today, May 21, 2013

JAMESTOWN, N.C. - The High Point Market in October will serve as a way for High Point University students Ally Catherine Trenary, Jourdan Sullivan, Rebecca Rowan, Susannah Murphy and Kayla Kucerik to introduce themselves to the rug world.

In November, rug expert and local retailer Abu-Bakr Khan visited their textiles class for a presentation. At one point, Khan told the class that if anybody was interested in having a rug made, they should bring designs by his store.

Rowan, Murphy, Trenary and Sullivan teamed up to create a design, while Kucerik brainstormed one on her own.

After seeing their designs, Khan had wool and silk rugs made in Nepal. He also gave the students clarity in career choices and the opportunity to showcase their creative skills for a who's who of the rug industry in the fall. The students will have their finished rugs on display at Abu Rugs & Home in Jamestown, N.C., during the fall market, Oct. 19-24.

"My goal for them to do that is this could be put in front of a lot of businesspeople before the next market. They can immediately get some recognition for their skills," Khan said. "Not many people can put their minds together and come up with an idea like this without training. Imagine if this rough diamond is polished, how sharp and how much light it can deliver to the design business, especially textiles."

The design by the group of four students was inspired by a rug inside Khan's store. At the four corners of the rug are the monogrammed initials of the students. The medallion, which is adorned with roses and acorns, also has the monogrammed initials of HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein.

Rowan said she was nervous when Khan examined the group's design.

"We put it in front of him and he was silent, looking at this design. We thought he hated it and then he looked up, looked us in the eye and told us it was beautiful and he was amazed we had designed it," she said. "It was such an awe-inspiring moment to have somebody who is so esteemed in the business to tell us it's good."

Kucerik's design was inspired by a piece of clothing and is a play on repetition with a curve shape repeating over a number of elevations, textures and colors.

"In my head, I saw it and knew how it was going to be raised," she said, looking at the finished product in Khan's showroom. "It was a completely different experience seeing it and touching it. This is my vision, come to life."
Khan said an altruistic attitude toward education has a place in business beyond financial considerations and he's happy to help possibly guide these five bright minds into the rug industry.
"Any business can help any school. It doesn't have to be financial; it can be helping vision. I think that's where most businesses need to put their money into," he said. "When a student comes up with a vision, fund it and bring it to life. Once it happens, it's not yours; it's their vision, it's their article."
Both rugs will be donated to High Point University.

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