JEBEL SIROUA – MID-CENTURY KNOTTED RUGS

New to our website this week is a small collection of mid-century, hand knotted wool rugs from Jebel Siroua, in the southern High Atlas region.  This is a quiet corner of Morocco, rarely attracting visitors, where the local Berber people live a simple traditional life, grazing their sheep and farming almonds and saffron, for which the region is famous.

Photo courtesy of Adventure Peaks Limited

It is extremely cold in this part of the mountains, with snow usually covering the summit of Jebel Siroua in the winter (an ancient strato volcano) which can only be reached with ropes by professional climbers.  By Easter the snow melts, and Autumn sees the long, time consuming task of harvesting the saffron.  Carpets are woven here in the homes of the Berber tribes, and at any time if you visit you can see the weaving of carpets in production and enjoy a cup of saffron tea!

Check out our collection of rugs from this remote region, which are around 70-80 years old, and all completely unique.

THE COLOUR PINK (not just for girls)

It’s no secret that pink is one of my favourite colours and when I’m looking through new stock to add to our website, my eye will always be drawn to any rugs with a background of blush pink or pops of a brighter pink tint.  There’s an ongoing trend for blush pink in both interiors and the fashion world and if you’re interested in colour psychology, pink is said to have a calming effect when used in interiors, inspiring feelings of security and safety.   It’s a complete coincidence that my favourite city, Marrakech, is known as the ‘pink city’.  The pigments in the earth in the area create a beautiful salmon pink coloured plaster which decorates the exterior of the majority of the buildings.

Pink is a tint made from a combination of red and white.  Adding a touch of black darkens the tint, and adding a small amount of another colour will give an undertone of that colour to the pink tint.  The name ‘pink’ may date back to the 17th century and may be derived from the Dutch flower ‘pinken’.  In almost every culture there is a stereotypical view that pink is for girls and blue for boys, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that pink was strongly associated with femininity.  The symbolism of the colour could argue that the opposite is true, that pink is derived from red which is active, hence masculine.  In the 18th century it was considered perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit.  Pink can be a very contradictory colour with associations to both feminine and masculine, tenderness and shallowness.

Below is a beautifully serene and calming bedroom at the wonderful El Fenn riad in Marrakech.  Don’t forget to check out the pink tints in our new collection of Boucherouite rugs now available in our online shop.

 

 

RUG TRENDS 2017 – Vintage

My favourite interiors mag arrived through the door yesterday morning.  In their June edition, Elle Decoration UK have featured the six biggest trends in rugs at the moment and guess what…..Vintage comes in at No.6.  No surprise there then!

vintage

With such a huge range of vintage rugs available to buy in the marketplace, we’re really pleased to be able to offer a choice from a huge collection in Marrakech, from the minimalist design of a classic Beni Ouarain rug to the artistic and colourful design of a Boucherouite rug.   Buying a vintage rug will give you the guarantee that there will be no other exactly the same, but there are certain things to look out for when buying.

Vintage Berber rugs were originally woven for their utility, usually sold by families to raise money, and most will have had a long and useful life.  Look out for signs of wear and small repairs, this is completely normal and desirable in a genuine vintage piece. Most will have been used in a family home for around 20-30 years.  If a rug looks too perfect, chances are it’s a relatively new piece.  Additional photos of our rugs are always available, and we can carry out any additional repairs required.

Check that the rug has been washed.  All of our rugs and washed and dried prior to shipping from Morocco.

Remember that some of the dyes used in a colourful rug may not necessarily be colour fast.

Happy shopping!

 

MARRAKECH SHOWROOM – NEW LOOK!

Our Marrakech showroom (Bazar du Sud) has recently undergone a transformation, and is looking particularly stunning at the moment!  Based in a beautiful old Riad in the Medina, the whitewashed walls, potted palms and traditional Zellige tiled floor provide the perfect backdrop to our vast collection of both vintage and modern Berber rugs and kilims.  A low cream sofa provides a welcome resting place…….with so much choice, you are sure to need a comfy seat (and plenty of mint tea!) for contemplation!  If you would like to arrange a showroom visit, please email us at info@marbleandmint.co.uk, we will be happy to organise this for you.

MODERN WEAVING IN THE MOUNTAINS – BENI OUARAIN RUGS

With a wide spectrum of colours available, and the ability to specify your own size and even the design, modern Beni Ouarain rugs are becoming increasingly popular.  Using wool from sheep kept at high elevations (thick and soft) Berber women weave these rugs on vertical looms, in exactly the same way as they have been made for centuries. Each rug can take at least one month to complete, and is washed and dried in the sun many times to achieve its characteristic soft and silky texture.  The texture improves with each washing.

Our partner, a family business in Marrakech, Bazar du Sud, have their own workshop in the Anti Atlas region, an area of rocky outcrops and small villages, where their workforce arrive every morning to produce, for them exclusively,  their own designs and bespoke orders.  They travel the long journey into the mountains regularly to check on orders and to transport completed pieces back to Marrakech.  If you would like to commission a custom made Beni rug, or would like to see more of our stock in Marrakech, please email us at info@marbleandmint.co.uk.  We will be happy to help.

 

 

2016 …..THE BEST BITS, AND LOOKING FORWARD

Looking back over the last year, some of the best bits have to be seeing the photos from our amazing day shooting at The Roost and Dalston Heights in Hackney.  This montage has been put together by photographer Ann Ashfield.  Early in 2017 we’re planning to do a shoot at the very cool home of a friend in the music business.  With her huge vinyl collection and walls covered in gold, silver and platinum discs, that should be great fun!  We’ll keep you posted.

Looking forward to the coming year, we will be working more closely than ever with our partner/supplier Bazar du Sud in Marrakech.  Their inventory of both new and vintage carpets is second to none.  If you’re in Marrakech, and you would like to pay them a vist, let us know.  Yazid and his team will be sure to give you a very warm welcome.

Inspired by this amazing image, we’ll be adding some Beni Ouarain runners to our site over the next few days.  This is the first time I’ve actually seen a Beni stair runner, but after doing a bit of research, I found that this one was commissioned by Frances Elkins, legendary decorator and sister of architect David Adler, in 1929 for a Chicago interior.  Just stunning.  Happy New Year everyone!

WHAT IS ‘HYGGE’

‘Hygge’ is a word which seems to be appearing more and more in relation to interiors….I’ve been seeing it regularly on blogs, Instagram posts and magazines, but honestly had no real idea exactly what it meant.  So thank you Elle Decoration UK, for your definitive guide to hygge in your January 2017 Winter Living Issue, which explains all!  Hygge is a Danish word which encompasses the idea of cosiness and well being, it’s all about taking pleasure in life, whatever it is that you’re doing.  Their article includes four great book titles for those who are interested in the Danish way of living well.

When it comes to interiors, obviously we’re really talking about comfort and cosiness, and this is especially apt for the winter season……sheepskin, faux fur, fireside rugs, soft warm lighting and candles.  Elle Deco have put together a winter warmers wish list, which includes (of course!) a soft and fluffy Beni Ouarain rug.  Check out our collection of modern Beni rugs, in perfect fireside sizes, to keep your feet warm as toast this winter.  Happy holidays!

Photo Credit Elle Decoration UK

 

COSY BENI OUARAIN RUGS FOR THE WINTER SEASON

We’re into the middle of November, and even though Christmas is everywhere already, it’s still a little early for me to be thinking earnestly about the festive season!  What is nice though, and never too early to consider, is how to make your home warm and cosy, not just for Christmas, but to see you through the long cold months ahead.  A pure wool rug, with a soft deep pile is the perfect addition to any room for the Winter season.

My December issue of Elle Decoration UK recently arrived, and features a beautiful vintage Beni Ouarain rug, which sits perfectly next to the simple Christmas fir trees in this Danish home photographed by Birgitta Wolfgang.  This simple Scandinavian style setting is stunning, but with their classic designs and monochrome colours, Beni rugs sit easily with any interior style.  We have some beautiful vintage Beni rugs available in our stock in Marrakech, but we also offer as an alternative a collection of modern rugs, woven from the finest quality wool using traditional weaving techniques.  Take a look at our sample size sale, a collection of rugs in the perfect size for sitting in front of a sofa, the fire, or underneath a small table.  After weaving, these modern rugs are washed and dried up to eight times, and it’s this repeated washing which improves the appearance and texture of the wool, giving it a luxuriously soft silkiness. Perfect for sinking your feet into!  Buying a good quality rug like this is an investment, and with the right care it can and should last you a lifetime, not just for Christmas!

MARRAKECH – THE HUB OF THE MOROCCAN RUG TRADE

We’re just back from our sourcing trip to Morocco, and remain convinced that Marrakech is still the best place to source Moroccan rugs.  The weather was unseasonably hot and humid, with just a little rain on one morning which very quickly disappeared.  Staying in an unfamiliar part of the Medina, it was an adventure as always to find our way to familiar places, but souk wandering is a must when you’re here!

We’ve seen some beautiful new Beni Ouarain productions, in a range of new colours and designs (including blue and pink!) all up on our website soon…..and have some more stunning Flatweaves and Boucherouite already on their way over to the UK.  Our partner/supplier has such a vast inventory of both old and new rugs, all catalogued and photographed that we are sure that if we can’t find what you’re looking for here in Marrakech, it can’t be found!  We’ll be adding a collection of vintage Beni Mguild rugs to our website soon, reversible pieces where the design is clearly visible on the back of the carpet.

In the meantime check out our collection of Petit Beni Ouarain, some beautifully soft small rugs, made from the finest quality wool, all originally made as samples.  These are also located in Marrakech, and we’ll be uploading additional photos of these over the next few days.

BENI OUARAIN RUGS – BLACK OR BROWN?

Trawling through the internet this morning to find a suitable image to illustrate the difference between ‘black’ and ‘brown’ designs on a Beni Ouarain rug.  Unfortunately we don’t know the source of this beautiful photo, but you can clearly see that the classic lattice design on this lovely Beni rug is woven in brown wool.  So what is the difference? and how can you know what you are buying?  It is often very difficult to tell from photos whether a design is in fact brown or black. If you’re working with a neutral palette, either brown or black will probably work in a room, but we are often asked by clients specifically for a Beni rug with a ‘black’ design.

You can find vintage Beni rugs woven with either brown or black designs, but ‘black’ will often have faded down to a lovely charcoal grey over years of use and washing.  However, it is worth noting that contemporary Beni Ouarain rugs woven with undyed wool are invariably woven with a brownish coloured wool, the reason for this is simply that wool from pure black sheep has become increasingly difficult to source.  Therefore if you do find a modern Beni rug with a black design, you can probably assume that the wool has been dyed.  This doesn’t detract from its beauty in any way of course!  If you are looking specifically for a rug with a black design, we will do our best to find one for you, and this often involves getting some really good close up photos of the rug to double check the colour of the design.  A custom made rug can, of course, be made in the colour of your choice

info@marbleandmint.co.uk