The Armenian-American Dream
With no family left, because of the Armenian Genocide, Mugrdech Der Bogosian (known to his customers as Moke) immigrated to the United States where he could start over. He passed through Ellis Island in 1916 and settled on the East Coast in New Jersey. Moke put his great artistic talent to use by designing oriental rugs at the Gulistan Carpet Mills in 1917. In 1920, Moke was offered a rug designer job in Los Angeles by Mr. Keshishyan. Moke moved to Los Angeles and designed rugs to customer specifications, which usually included size and color preference. When complete, the designs were sent to India, Iran, or China where the rugs were hand made to Moke's directions. These rugs took between one and two years to be completed.
rugs were designed to custom fit rooms for the larger homes
in the Pasadena, Hancock Park and the Beverly Hills areas.
Some of his clients included Mr. and Mrs. Helm (Helm's Bakery),
Mr. and Mrs. Doheny (the pioneer of Beverly Hills), Mr.
and Mrs. Wriggly (the gum company), Mr. and Mrs. Van Nuys
Page (the city of Van Nuys and a museum were named after
them), Mr. and Mrs. Asa V. Call (another prominent family
in West Los Angeles,), etc.
In the 1920s, Moke was commissioned to design a 24' x 23' Chinese (Ming 16th Century) purchased by the late J. Pierpont Morgan Esq. through Mr. John S. Keshishyan from the estate of ex-governor Oliver Ames of Boston Mass and presented by J. P. Morgan to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
In 1923, Moke started Arax Oriental Rug Cleaning Company out of his home. The bulk of his business was to hand wash and restore the rugs that he had designed. He was in great demand from his clients who owned rugs made from his original designs. They didn't want anyone but Moke to touch their valuable and beautiful rugs.
In 1936, Moke built a cleaning plant in order to expand his business. He started to accept other designer's carpets for both cleaning and restoration. Because of Moke's unique skills and hard work, his business continued to grow.
oldest son, Aram, joined the business in 1946, and father
and son worked side by side until Moke retired in 1972.
Aram has continued with the traditional hand wash and restoration
of these oriental rugs. Aram is one of the only few who
continue with hand wash and restoration process.
All rugs are hand washed by first flooding them with a lot of fresh water. Then they are shampooed with Orvus, which was the first detergent made by Proctor & Gamble that is both non-toxic and biodegradable. There are no chemicals in the soap - it is all natural. After the rugs are thoroughly shampooed, they are rinsed completed by hand with fresh water. The rugs are then hung and drip dried overnight. They are then taken outdoors and laid flat to continue the drying process. One trick is that the rugs are dried upside down, which causes them to steam. This gives the rugs a nice sheen. Drying the rugs upside down also causes any impurities to rise to the back of the rug when hit by the sun. When dry, the rugs are flipped right side up and the rugs are brushed in order to remove any crush marks. While the rugs are drying, the fringes are groomed.
When dry, the rugs are brought back inside. The rugs are vacuumed (both back side and face side) with heavy-duty vacuums to remove any excess sand and dirt from the nap. The rugs are then rolled up and ready for delivery. This cleaning procedure, which includes drying the rugs in the sun, kills all moths that may have been in the rugs prior to cleaning.
In the Los Angeles area, over the years, this type of specialty rug washing has nearly been eliminated due to the amount of labor required.
Aram has cleaned rugs from all over the world...orientals, novelty, customer area and machine made rugs in his own professional cleaning plant known as Arax Carpet. Aram welcomes anyone for a tour of his cleaning facility.