Having looked at a lot of pub carpets, both sober and less sober, I have drawn up five basic rules of pub carpet creation. Obey these and you have the potential to produce the titan of all tapestries. Ignore them and you’ll end up with something that resembles a mouldy ploughman’s lunch.
1) Use dark colours: deep reds, blues, blacks, browns. You can definitely get some orange or pink in there if you like. But no white. Never. Any. White. I once saw a man cleaning a pub carpet that had a white section. He was on his hands and knees for hours. I think he may have fallen asleep, but that’s beside the point. White is not the right colour for pub carpets.
2) If it’s in a boring space, make it as harebrained as you like. That rectangular pub in the shopping mall is only going to get interesting if the carpet features a pattern that looks like its straight from the local primary school’s potato-printing class. But if the space is already interesting – like an old church or a grand hotel – don’t go completely Jackson Pollock. Let the space breathe, compliment the architecture and add to the existing atmosphere.
3) Don’t do human faces. Have you ever been drunk, staring at a carpet and seen an illustration of a human face look back at you? I don’t recommend it. There’s a reason we don’t look in the mirror past 11 p.m.
4) Reference the local history of the area or the pub itself. Of all the pub carpets I’ve seen, the ones that are the best are those that tell a local story. No matter how beautiful or well designed a pub is, it is only the sum of its customers. When you can give a nod to their shared history in the carpet design you’re on to a winner, and a lot of free rounds.
5) If in doubt, just go for circles. If you’re running short of ideas and the local history is just one story about Ken who once ran the London marathon in a bear suit, then crack out the circles. You can do anything with circles: link them up, make them concentric, put them in squares, randomly assign them to different parts of the carpet, repeat them so hard and fast that customers are afraid to look down for fear of losing their balance. Circles are the 4–4–2 of carpet design: a dependable formation that won’t win you the trophy, but will keep you in the league.