August 9, 2015 by Lauren Helmer
The only thing that can top Paige Albright’s command of Birmingham style is her encyclopedic knowledge of oriental rugs. For the past 20 years, Paige has thoughtfully curated her vast collection of global rugs with her Birmingham clientele in mind. Walking into her Mountain Brook shop, Paige Albright Orientals, is like walking into a museum, where gorgeous pieces of art—snapshots of different cultures around the world—are beautifully displayed. Paige’s impressive and in-depth knowledge is also on display as she walks inquisitive customers through her shop. She takes on the role of docent as effortlessly as she does that of local business owner, curator, designer, appraiser, student, speaker or mother.
Your career path includes an education in art history and English with an interior design concentration and eight years in the residential design industry. Tell us about your professional journey and what made you decide to specialize in oriental rugs. I started working with my mentor, Alice Schleusner, at the King’s House in 1999, and that is when I really shifted from interior design to oriental rugs. I found that I really enjoyed it, and it was totally different than anything I had been doing. But I definitely think having that design background has been huge with my business, because I can speak the language with my designers.
So, in addition to having the store, you work directly with designers? Yes, we specialize in hand-selecting things specifically for clients who visit the shop, as well as designers. Designers will come in and give me their measurements, fabrics, dimensions, colors, budget and how the elements are going to be used. Then it’s like solving a puzzle to find the perfect piece. We feel a personal connection to the rugs that we’ve collected over the years, so we also restore and repair pieces for our clients. I have vendors in New York and overseas who specialize in repair and restoration. They are licensed through the U.S. government, as we are currently in an embargo. They use traditional weaving techniques from hand-dying the wools to making sure the knots are woven correctly. It is truly an artisan process.