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Just Like New: Persian Rugs

This week on Lake Effect, two companies in the Milwaukee area will be showcased that are in the business of keeping old things functioning like new. The first of those companies is the Orley Shabahang shop in Whitefish Bay which specializes in an item that is still common in many homes today.

Persian rugs have a rich history and as old as they can be, they remain to play active role in people's lives and in business. The OrleyShabahang shop sells new Persian rugs, made by some remarkable artisans in Asia from some remarkable sheep. But it also works to restore rugs that are many decades old and still in daily use in people's homes around the country.

Of all the places in the world to locate such a shop, Milwaukee seemed like an unusual choice - an impression Lake Effect's Mitch Teich raised to the company's president, Mehran Iravani.

"Our founder Bahram Shabahang came here to go to school, and then he fell in love with the city and the state and with the value of the community and just decided to stay here and he opened up the first store," Iravani says.

Each of Orley Shabahang's rugs has a long journey woven into its very patterns. They breed their own sheep in Turkey and Iran to harvest the correct type of wool, which then is taken to villages to be spun that is incomparable to machine-spun wool, dyed and then made into a rug by individual weavers in their own homes to ensure the best quality and craftsmanship.

"When you look at each and every one of these rugs there's a story behind each," Iravani says. "Somebody put an average of a couple of years, a year, or two, or three years, to produce one of them. And she put her love through making one of them."

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.