Monday, January 25, 2016

The Moroccan Berber Rug Trend

I was compensated to write this post

Moroccan Berber rugs have been trending upward in popularity due to their unique designs and modern look. In particular, one type of rug is getting lots of attention lately--a unique style crafted by the Beni Ourain weavers. Modern designers love Beni Ourain rug design and consider it one-of-a-kind for several reasons.

Historical Isolation Morocco's middle Atlas Mountains have been known for their frigidity and geographic isolation throughout the centuries. Even the Arab influence that overtook much of the surrounding area seemed to leave the tribes in the more inaccessible mountain regions free to live and act as they wished. Consequently, there is little design influence from the eastern and even colorful Moroccan styled rugs. Thick, heavy piles are trademarks of Beni Ourain rugs because of their utilitarian uses in cold, mountain regions. Traditionally, they served not only as floor rugs but also as bed coverings, sleeping mats, clothing, saddle blankets, wall hangings and even burial shrouds.

Symbolism With no standard written language, the people of the Berber tribes preserved the stories, heritage and customs of their culture through textiles. As both a rite of passage and an act of expression, the weaving of a Beni Ourain rug can tell the weaver's personal story or one that has been handed down through generations. Simple, geometric forms such as diamonds, x's, checkerboards, arrows and more tell tales of fertility, birth, protection, and beauty.

Weaving Techniques The beauty and simplicity of a Beni Ourain rug is implicit in its design. First, the wool is pure "live wool," which is carefully shorn from a living sheep rather than taken from a sheepskin harvested from a sheep that has been killed. Next, hand weaving and hand knotting each row can take a female artisan up to a year to complete. The result is that Beni Ourain rugs are a beautiful mix of creamy ivories as a backdrop with darker ebony geometric patterns. Occasionally fringe and border motifs contain hints of color from dyes made of henna, saffron, indigo and madder roots.

Popularity Woven glyphs and markings on centuries-old carpets are strikingly similar to carpets made in the twentieth century and even into the present. When early twentieth century designers and architects searched for flooring elements to complement their sleek, modern designs, many chose Berber carpets for their simplistic, comfortable feel and appearance. From Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright to Charles and Ray Eames, mid-century modern designers paired the plush, soft rugs with their own streamlined designs for a popular look for their time. Wright even used black and white Beni Ourain carpets in nearly every room in his world-recognized design triumph, Falling Water. Today's Ben Ourain textiles have been rediscovered, and whether a century old or newly created are masterpieces sure to be enjoyed for many years to come.