In a North Carolina mill during the 1920’s, Marshall Field & Co. created an exciting and innovative product – machine-made oriental design rugs of high quality at realistic prices. These elegant new rugs, almost impossible to distinguish from imported originals, were introduced by Wanamaker’s New York department store in 1928, and the Karastan brand was born.
The new Karastan manufacturing process was so advanced that the trade press referred to the first Karastan rugs as “Mystery Rugs.” To share the “mystery” of these rugs with the public, Karastan created a large version of its Kirman pattern for the 1933-34 World’s Fair in Chicago. But instead of putting it on display so visitors could simply admire its beauty, Karastan did the unthinkable. They invited the world to walk across it. More than 5 million people left their footprints, spills and ground-in food stains all over the rug. Karastan then cleaned half the rug so people could see how easily it cleaned and how well the rug recovered from the abuse. The rug still exists in the same state today - one side almost unrecognizably filthy, while the other has been returned to its original beauty and luster.
To prove that the demonstration was no fluke, Karastan did it again. This time more than 9 million visitors walked on Karastan's rugs at the New York World’s Trade Fair of 1939-40 before half the rug was returned to its original condition. Thus the public was baffled again and Karastan rugs became known as “The Wonder Rugs of America”.