(D)rug Dealer - Mikael Kennedy


Mikael Kennedy gives new definition to “jack of all trades.” He’s a photographer, designer, entrepreneur, and rug dealer. He also happens to be one of the raddest humans on the planet. From mountain landscapes, to high-fashion shoots, to his surreal Polaroid series titled “Passport to Trespass,” his shooting style is both intimate and inspiring. On top of that, his keen eye for vintage rugs has made him into one of the most sought-after dealers in both L.A. and New York. We were lucky enough to work with him on a recent shoot in the desert, and we took a break from the scorching sun to roll one up and chat about creativity, rugs, and his beastly Mercedes named “the White Whale.”

Whats your name, where are you from?

Mikael Kennedy. I live in Los Angeles, CA with my wife and daughter

How long have you been shooting photos and what style of photography to you enjoy most?

I started taking pictures when I was 13 or 14, when I was 25 I moved to NYC and began exhibiting my photography internationally, that was about the time that I began shooting fashion photography as well and working as a commercial photographer.

How did you get into rug dealing?

It began as a curiousity. I found myself fascinated by old rugs that I would see around, in friends homes, in shops, when I was in NYC I found myself spending a lot of time at the Cloisters and the Met studying old paintings and textiles. I liked the way they related to my landscape photography, the way looking at them made me think about pattern and color and texture. One time while wandering around New England I met an old rug dealer who was on his way out. He was an old blues player in Massachuessets who had gotten into rug dealing when he was younger. I started buying older pieces from his private collection as he was paring it down. I would make monthly trips to his store digging through is collection and bringing them back to NYC where I was living at the time. The rule I have with the rugs is I only buy ones I love so that I’m okay owning these forever. I don’t really care if they sell, but when they do it allows me to hunt for more.

Why rugs and how does that coincide with your art of photography?

It’s all the same visual language to me, I realized this a few years into the rug project, that I was just following a life long obsession with color, texture and pattern.

What are the characters you have met in your rug dealing profession?

All collectors are interesting to me now, a whole new world opened up. Every collector has a favorite piece, an oldest piece, one they’d never sell. It doesn’t really matter what they collect. But as I travel constantly with my photography or my wife’s music I search out a rug dealer where ever I can Michigan, New Mexico, Itally, they all speak the same language.

How did you meet Lance?

I was crossing the Mojave on tour with my wife, Melaena Cadiz, when we stopped at a little antique mall in Joshua Tree, CA. They had a bunch of rugs forsale and when I spoke to the young couple running the shop they told me about this “crazy old guy” who lived in Yucca Valley who used to run the store, who’s house was full of rugs. I was on tour so I didn’t have a chance to stop and talk to him that time but two years later I found myself living in Joshua Tree for a month while my wife worked on her next album and I tracked Lance down. Now it’s part of every trip I take out there, sometimes I just stop in to say hello not even looking for rugs.

Whats the name of your Mercedes?

The closest I’ve ever coming to naming her is just calling her ‘the white whale” she’s a full foot and half longer than my old convertion van and it was quite a search to find her.

What is in store for King Kennedy’s Rugs for the future?

The future is the same as the past. I don’t really have any intention of making this project any bigger. I like being a private dealer, no store is in the future, that’s for sure. But I’ve got a bunch of collaborations in the works that I’m excited about. I am doing a rug chair with Stephen Kenn, and a Sneaker with No.One Systems out of Venice. I’d like to do another round of bags sometime as well. The last ones I did with Stanley and Sons sold out almost immediately.