HALI; the Voice of Carpet

Interview with Mr.Sebastian Ghandchi- Publisher of Hali Magazine

HALI magazine, with a readership in over 65 countries, is one of the most revered international journals in the field.HALI has become the byword for excellence for specialists, researchers and the lovers of eastern art.

Sebastian Ghandchi, HALI’s publisher, visited DOMOTEX Dubai, to promote the winners of the Carpet Design Awards, and accepted with great pleasure our invitation for an interview at the Kohan Journal stand, as follows:”

Kohan Journal. Please let us have your autobiography and your work experiences, magazines such as Hali, and Modern. Generally please explain how the idea of establishing these magazines was formed and what goals they are following.

I studied in the UK after leaving Iran in 1974 after completing the “doreye rahnamayi” at Lycee Razi. I went to Durham University to study Politics and Philosophy, where I also did a BSc in Business Management and Arts Administration, having spent a great deal of my time at university involved with the theatre groups there – acting, directing and producing. After university, I pursued the theatre for a couple of years, before joining a management consultancy firm, mainly working on improved productivity systems in UK-based industry. I took three months sabbatical after 2 years, before deciding to go into publishing – I felt it allowed for “creativity” in a business environment, which was what excited me. After a series of sales positions, I joined Hali Publications in 1988, just after it had been acquired by Centaur Communications (now Centaur Media Plc) one of UK`s leading business-to- business publishing groups. I worked my way up the ladder and became the Publisher some 12 years ago. Last week I acquired the company from Centaur and so we are now set to develop Hali Publications as a privately-owned specialist art publishing company.

HALI was actually launched in 1978 by two of the leading figures in the world of antique carpet and textile art: Michael Franses (who is back on board in the new set-up) and Robert Pinner. The world leader in its field, HALI (the name means carpet in Turkish) holds the international rug and textile art market together. Described as “the benchmark against which all other art publications measure their quality”, HALI is an international quarterly magazine of exceptional style and essential reading for the amateur and the connoisseur alike.

Unlike other arts and antiques publications, it is the single most influential force within its specialized constituency. HALI plays a pivotal role in the field of carpets and textiles, leading trends, tastes and opinions as well as promoting the business through the comprehensive nature of its editorial coverage, which ranges from sumptuously illustrated original scholarly features to lively, provocative reviews of exhibitions and books. These are balanced by the up to date news-oriented market sections which include reports of dealers shows worldwide, and a unique and extensively researched illustrated price guide (the most popular item in the magazine) to the most important items sold at auction. HALI is the world`s most authoritative and widely-read magazine for the international antique carpet and textile art market. With a print run of over 5,000 copies, each issue reaches over 20,000 people in over 65 countries.

The launch issue of Modern Carpets & Textiles was published in September 2005. This is a groundbreaking publication echoing the vibrancy of the fast-growing international market for fine handmade carpets and artist textiles. With a focus on innovation and market trends in the industry, the magazine is dedicated to the art and design of high-end hand-made carpets and textiles, examines the creative process within the market, reflects contemporary aesthetic tastes and illustrates the full impact that these works of art in interior schemes. This is the magazine that signals the coming of age of this fast-growing international market, and will set the standards for the Future.

The editorial sections are designed to allow the reader to understand what is good and what is new, as well as what is possible to achieve in making, commissioning and using hand-made carpets and textiles. At the heart of MC&T is the desire to acknowledge the creative and innovative skill currently evident in the industry and establish a standard by which to judge both the material and aesthetic quality of carpets and textiles.

MC&T is distributed on a controlled distribution basis to a distinct list of 8,500 influential buyers. With copies being passed on, this will result in a total readership of 34,000 per issue. These key buyers are major carpet and textile retailers, interior designers, architects, specifiers, carpet dealers and carpet and textile buyers for international furnishing outlets.
I proposed the idea of the Carpet Design Awards to Deutsche Messe, the organisers of Domotex Hanover in 2005, and they agreed enthusiastically to partner us in the venture. We launched the first awards in 2006 and they were so successful that they immediately established themselves as the benchmark for this industry and the place to showcase new trends. These awards highlight and reward the remarkable talent and creativity of the handmade carpet industry. It was a real coup to bring all the 2007 winning carpets to Domotex Middle East and I hope we can do this again next year.

Kohan Journal. In your opinion what is the role of carpet and floorcovering journals in market and business enterprises of this industry?

The aims of HALI and MC&T, and the establishment of the awards answer this question.
Besides providing context, magazines validate the industry and set standards, and spread the word about what is good, what is new, what is important and why it`s important. Plus they give readers access to information not readily available, and in the case of a magazine like HALI, open the doors to objects in museums and private collections that the reader simply would not be able to see otherwise.

Kohan Journal. What is your opinion about holding Domotex Dubai in future?

Domotex Middle East is set at the heart of a developing nation and a market that is likely to become one of the foremost markets in the world. I hope that Domotex Middle East grows to include more handmade carpets and perhaps even antique and design carpet wholesalers and manufacturers, to truly represent the range and diversity in our industry.

Kohan Journal. Do you agree that in the future Domotex Hanover will turn in to the center of hand-made and antique carpets, and Domotex Middle-East will turn in to the center of machine-made carpet and floorcoverings?

I think there is room for the full range and diversity of our industry in more places than Hanover. Emerging markets such as China, Saudi Arabia and Russia are likely to become as strong as the markets in the west and I admire Domotex for being at the forefront of this development.

Kohan Journal. If you have a short analysis over textile floor-coverings, how do you evaluate Iran`s position in this field, and what are the weak and strong points in it?

Iranian carpet production for me, and I`m being more than just patriotic here, is about tradition, quality and finesse – even in its tribal weavings, but what the production lacks at the moment, is focus and support. As a whole, the Iranian producers are not strong when it comes to `brand-marketing` and promotion. There is no real central export organisation or much support from the authorities, to compete with the might of some of their competitors.

Furthermore, Iran has been very slow in embracing modern design, fashion and trends. This is a real pity as there is so much talent, expertise, quality workmanship and creativity in Iran that remains untapped and unrealised.

Kohan Journal. Nowadays, modern designs, plans, and colors create new markets and creativity in beautiful and eye-catching designs is the ace of a manufacturer. In your opinion how the floor-coverings manufacturers can keep themselves up to date and meet the requirements of the costumers?

It`s not just necessarily about what is new and fashionable… I think they need to look at their heritage and update it to fit modern tastes, maintaining the creative edge that would set them apart… they need to nurture talent and not be afraid to try new things… and of course they need to read magazines like HALI, MC&T and Kohan to find inspiration and keep abreast of trends!


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