If you love Moroccan rugs but are also interested in the heritage of the Berber people who weave them, grab yourself a copy of the March edition of World of Interiors magazine. It features Aicha’s home, a traditional clay walled house in the Atlas Mountains. I visited a Berber house a few years ago, and Aicha’s home is laid out in the traditional way with life revolving around an interior courtyard, except that this is the only house in the village that’s painted. It stands facing the rising sun, with its back to the river and a view of the slopes and Argan trees which are used as supporting pillars for the house. Aicha has used a combination of her imagination, memories and traditional Berber motifs to decorate the walls. Everywhere (except the limewashed kitchen) the colour of the clay walls peeps through.
I can remember being astonished to see that cattle are kept in the basement, but there is method in this as the heat from the cow’s body warms the house above. A metal rack in the kitchen holds all of the pots and pans needed for cooking and glasses for mint tea. The fridge is only for occasional use and runs on bottled gas and the hen will only lay eggs in the hay stored for the cows! Read the full story and see all of the gorgeous images of this richly decorated organic Berber home in this month’s edition of the magazine.
Images courtesy of World of Interiors magazine. Photography by Marc Belli.
Autumn ’17 will hopefully see me returning to Morocco for a visit to one of two workshops in the Atlas Mountains. This is located in Azrou (a gruelling 6 hours drive from Marrakech) a town around 90 kilometres south of Fez in Ifrane. The cedar forests and monkeys are what draw visitors to the town, but it is also home to an important Berber market and the origin of Beni Mguild carpets, colourful rugs woven with a thick pile to protect against the cold winters of the region. Here we have 150 women working their magic, using traditional weaving techniques to create modern pieces on vertical looms. This is where our pile rugs are woven and a carpet with the dimensions of approximately 3 x 2 metres can take around 25 days to weave. Our second workshop is in the High Atlas region, where we have 50 women working, and is where our modern Berber kilims are woven. This weaving technique is more complicated and the same size wool kilim can take 50 days to complete. Finished pieces then make their way down to our Riad showroom, Bazar du Sud, in Marrakech Medina. Showroom visits are always available by appointment. Contact us here in the UK on 07746 727536 or in Morocco on 00212 661245401 and speak to El Yazid Lamdaghri.
We have samples of our modern Berber kilims here in the UK, and if you’re unsure of any colour or design, we can send these out on loan. We are also happy to provide a consultation service in your own home. All of our modern Berber rugs and kilims can, of course, be made to your own size specification; although we do have a stock of ready made pieces in various designs and colourways in our Marrakech showroom. The image below shows a blue kilim on the wall on the left, which is a beautiful example of modern Berber weaving. Please get in touch if you would like to see any samples, images, or require any information on sizes and prices. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com, we will be happy to organise this for you.
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!
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.