What an honor it was to host the Ahmadi brothers at Kush last Thursday evening. Seldom do we have the chance to attach names and faces to the people who make our work so meaningful. Seldom can we share such concrete examples of the global scope and human drama behind what we do.
Donning jeans and black blazers, Zubair and Jawid Ahmadi sat atop a heap of handmade rugs and with humility, charm, and humor they told their immigrant story to a rapt crowd. We listened to the unfolding of an American Dream; a Hazara family of 10 children, refugees of Northern Afghanistan, who passed through Pakistan and Iran in pursuit of safety and opportunity. Having finally found refuge in L.A., the Ahmadi family moved from home to home, fleeing landlords who became wise to their teeming family stacked in bunk beds, exceeding capacity. Zubair and Jawid learned the art of antique rug repair from relatives in Iran and the U.S. and the skills they honed were the seeds of their entrepreneurship. With a firm handle on rug construction and classic design, a first generation thirst for contemporary influence, as well as a commitment to the Hazara people of their heritage, the Ahmadi rug production was born.
Thanks to the wonderful questions from the audience, we learned so much from these men-- their design inspiration, the importance of materials, the bonds of family. We heard tales of weavers adapting under fluctuating Taliban rule, the trials of running a young, international business in underdeveloped countries, the triumph of an ethnic minority family in the face of unimaginable challenges.The evolution of their ancient native craft, brought from afar and developed to shine in a modern world, is a story of relentless hard work. The Amadi Rug Company is a thriving business, straddling the contrary worlds of LA and Kabul, inexorably tied to tradition yet fueled by contemporary hunger for quality, beauty, and design.