Kyle Bunting - The World's Finest Hide Rugs
Looking back on 20 years in business, I think about how many lives we’ve touched with our hide rugs. Not only the end users, but the artists with whom we’ve collaborated and the family of artisans who have lovingly pieced together each strip of hide over two decades. The community of Kyle Bunting stretches across time and place, built on collaboration, inspiration, and ingenuity. All of it, though, owes to the dedication and love of one man, my father, Jim Bunting, who recently passed away.
My father and I would spend long afternoons at the rodeos in Texas when I was a kid, where he would sell these incredible works of art in cowhide. Dad would spend hours in the garage constructing elaborate patterns out of hide - an extremely unique and versatile material - to build one of a kind hide-topped cocktail tables and rugs, all the while saving up money to send my brother and I to college. I have fond memories of dad saying, “come here, help me cut this piece, would you?” while mom would bring us lemonade to help cool the hot Texas summer. Eventually, I knew I wanted to carry on this legacy of local craftsmanship and expand on what my father had done. He gave me the first hide rug he ever made - a map of Texas, each county an individual piece of different colored cowhide. To this day, that rug hangs in our factory. Every time I pass it, I’m reminded of what he said to me “I’m going to give you the rug, Kyle, but I only want one thing in return. I want you to give it your best and do something great with it, and you can have it.” That has stayed with me to this day, and I hope that I can continue to make my dad proud in what we do at Kyle Bunting.
Our rugs have an inherent personal quality to them. Each is uniquely created to specification by our team to a client’s vision. Sometimes, clients will ask me to include special accents or motifs on their rugs - little things that speak to them; poignant details like letters, words, and symbols. Upon my father’s passing, I knew I wanted to memorialize him through the craft he passed on to me. I decided to create a rug imbued with symbolic language that would communicate who Jim Bunting was - a dad, a granddad, a friend, a husband, an artist, and so much more. Drawing my color palette from the room where his memorial service was to be held, I created a piece that conveys all these aspects of my father through dates, symbols, and initials, each meaningful and particular to his memory. When our family and friends finally saw the finished product, they were amazed - it became a point of conversation, opening up to more conversations and shared memories.
Realizing that these rugs could serve as a way to memorialize those things we hold most closely, while also serving as an engaging way to open conversations, I was inspired to create a series of rugs that speak to tradition - the memories we carry with us, and how we document these important moments that make us. The Story Rug is a riff on the old memory quilts that the generations before us would stitch together. It’s through these objects that we communicate those things that are most dear to our hearts. My Story Rug is an homage to my dad. It’s full of little details that were meaningful to him: the Texas Longhorns logo, the Eagle Scouts, birthdays, and the like. It’s in direct conversation with that first rug he made, to the creative spirit that has guided this company for the past twenty years. I hope that this line of rugs will be meaningful to others as well, serving as an opportunity to document, to remember, and to reflect.
Jim Bunting was a man with a higher calling, always ready to serve and encourage. “Never be deficit in the favor bank,” he used to say. These words drive us to create pieces that inspire our clients, to uplift other creative voices, and to carry on his mission of making it count.