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Blog

Vintage Beni Ouarain and Boucherouite Rugs

I've always been obssessed with Moroccan rugs, especially the vintage ones. I’m especially in love with bright and cheerful boucherouite Moroccan rugs (freeform “rag rugs”) with their crazy patterns, happy colors, and funky, imperfect edges. They’re the perfect way to add some vibrant color, warmth, and texture to a neutral room. If you already have a lot of color in your home or if you’re more of a minimalist type, a black and white Beni Ouarain rug would also be beautiful. 

Let’s take a look at some drool-worthy Moroccan rugs, shall we?

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I think these Moroccan rugs are perfect for a bohemian look. They’re so much more interesting and fun than the standard rugs you usually see at the big-box retailers. And of course, each one is unique!

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Now let’s look at some pretty black and white ones. These Beni Ouarain rugs are handwoven in Morocco and typically feature a black diamond pattern woven into a cream background. I love how detailed they are, though--there’s so much more going on than just a simple diamond pattern. Absolutely beautiful!

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PS: Images are not property of MyCraftWork LLC. Please contact us if you wish to have an image taken down.

 

 

Residential Lighting Magazine Feature!

Residential Lighting Magazine featured our beautiful Luxury Malik Moroccan Pendant in their May-June 2014 issue! You can find this entire issue online here.

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Moroccan Lantern Decor

When decorating, it is important to note that home lighting is an integral part of your home decor. Too dim lighting can dull even the nicest interiors whereas lighting that is too bright can make your interiors look too loud. Conversely, great lighting pulls your home interior together.

Indoor and outdoor lighting are as decorative as paintings and vases. If you want a cozy and comfortable atmosphere, the ambient lights of Moroccan home lighting will do that for you.

Home Lighting Moroccan Style

Moroccan lanterns provide home lighting that makes an already richly decorated room vibrant and warm at the same time. For rooms that are sparse on decoration, a lantern or two can provide a look that distinguishes your room and gives the appearance of much more decor than there actually is. The larger lantern designs provide a warm welcome to guests when you add them to your patio or porch. 

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Moroccan star lamps may be hung up virtually anywhere and everywhere. A spectacle for the eyes, these lights have myriads of points and light up like the stars in the sky. They can be hung all over a ceiling at various heights for added effect or be hung as one or a pair in a strategic place. Moroccan star lamps are increasingly being seen in commercial settings as well as in private homes. Adding a Moroccan lamp to a vaulted ceiling in front of a high window in the front of your home makes for a stunning entrance. 

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Wall sconces are instantly impressive with their colored glass and warm lighting. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They look great whether you purchase several of the same color and style or choose to have several in a rainbow of colors. Many of these are made to match with lamps. When shopping for wall sconces, look for sets of Moroccan lighting if you wish to keep to the same color families. 

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Small to medium Moroccan lamps look elegant when placed on desks or on tables. Floor lamps can be purchased to match up with these or other types of home lighting. Moroccan floor lamps vary in shape and size from tall pyramid shapes to lamps that curve, catching the eye and adding a whole new dimension to your home decor. They may also be rounded or come in a more conventional shape with beaded lampshades bringing something unique to even typical decoration.

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For an extra eclectic look, purchase different styles of Moroccan lamps and lanterns and place them all around a room. A curvy floor lamp, two or three sconces and a couple of lanterns combined with Moroccan style paint on the walls, earth-colored tile on the floors and mosaic tables, are perfect for giving living areas sophisticated pizazz. 

Decorative outdoor lighting for your porch or patio may include an exciting combination of large and small Moroccan lanterns as well as Moroccan wall sconces. Whether you choose round, half moon, pyramids, curves or star-shaped Moroccan lighting, your home is sure to stand out with class and panache. Moroccan lighting is as versatile as it is beautiful. The accents of lanterns and sconces containing bulbs or candles are perfect for a romantic evening.

 

Moroccan Luxury Riad

People who holiday in Morocco typically buy a bold Berber carpet or the colorful leather slippers known asbabouches. When art dealer Dorothea McKenna Elkon first traveled to the storied port of Essaouira, almost a dozen years ago, the New Yorker acquired a much more impressive souvenir: a crumbling 18th-century riad,or courtyard house, impulsively purchased several days after she landed.

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“It was a coup de foudre,” says the owner and president of the Elkon Gallery, an Upper East Side fixture established in 1961 by her first husband, the late Robert Elkon. “I was astounded by the old stone arches surrounding the courtyard, but the rest of the place was in total disrepair.” Overlooking a slender alley in the densely packed medina, or walled heart, of this city of around 70,000, the three-level masonry structure was so decrepit that the upper floors would have to be demolished and rebuilt. Elkon was undaunted, having been bewitched by Essaouira’s wave-splashed ramparts and its languorous pace.

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“A friend had told me Essaouira was one of the most beautiful places in Morocco,” she recalls. “A fishing town with white houses and blue doors.” What she discovered upon arrival was a spot largely unchanged since its founding in the 1760s. The city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has remained blissfully free of the package-tour hubbub that plagues other popular destinations in Morocco. And yet Essaouira was an easy flight from Paris, where the dealer keeps an apartment.

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It was back in the French capital that Elkon’s ambitions for her new getaway came into focus. At a dinner party not long after her North African vacation, she met a dashing designer named Salem Grassi; the two got to talking, and she learned he was heading to Morocco the following week. “So I suggested he go to Essaouira to see my riad,” she says. Off he went, returning full of ideas. She quickly hired him to oversee the renovation; within two years the job was complete, and Grassi had plighted his troth. These days the couple, now married, spends nearly two months a year in the house that brought them together.

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Their approach to the project was simple. Grassi would be the man on the ground, while Elkon would visit as often as she could. In preparation for taking the riad from shambles to chic, the designer toured mosques and palaces in Morocco and Spain and, through contacts made on those journeys, tracked down accomplished painters, tile setters, and wood- and stone-carvers. The structure they had to work with conformed to the riad ideal: narrow, high-ceilinged rooms arranged around a central courtyard and accessed by galleries. Even with all that expertise at the ready, however, challenges abounded. “Moroccan artisans are great when it comes to techniques,” explains Grassi, who was born in Algeria and raised in Italy and France. “But none of them can read blueprints, so you draw a design on a wall and go from there.”

Luxury_Moroccan_Bedroom_Decor

Since the only outstanding features were the ones Elkon first fell in love with—the ground floor’s stout columns and horseshoe arches—the renovation gave the couple an opportunity to dress the otherwise understated house in grander garb. Books about Islamic decorative traditions came in handy, notably Arabesques, Jean-Marc Castéra’s magisterial 1996 study of the geometric patterns found throughout the Arab world. Polychrome tilework called zellige appears on the riad’s new wall fountains and wainscots, while wood balustrades reminiscent of mashrabiya screens outline the galleries like yards of golden lace. Most astonishing are the coffered wood ceilings, which were constructed on-site, often painted with abstract floral designs, and hoisted into position.

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The pair collaborated on furnishing the house. With the eye of the fashion editor she once was—she worked at Vogue under Diana Vreeland—Elkon juxtaposed tailored contemporary objects, some designed by Grassi, with lush antiques such as a Spanish Baroque mirror picked up in Madrid. Because England, France, and Spain had major presences in Morocco for centuries, she notes, “Salem and I thought a mixture of pieces from those countries would be appropriate.”

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Today the riad, dubbed Dar Maktoub (House of Destiny), is pasha-perfect—a five-bedroom, six-bath urban mansion. Breakfasts and lunches are taken in a fanciful mahogany pavilion on the roof, with views of island-studded Mogador Bay and the Atlantic. Dinners are often held in the courtyard, now paved with Portuguese marble and protected from rain and windblown sand by a glass skylight. After meals, houseguests can retire to the ground-floor salon or to their bedrooms above; a tiled hammam, or steam room, is located off the third-floor master suite.

To some, the house’s splendor is startling, given the extreme modesty of its façade. Yet both are hallmarks of Moroccan style. Even when riads are palatial, “they don’t provide a lot of information from the outside,” Grassi explains. “The front door is usually very insignificant—but then you push it open to find so much beauty.”

 

Antique Moroccan Rugs

In the historic area encompassing the modern nation of Morocco, the tradition of rug-making is just about as old as it is anywhere in the world. The early adoption of rug-making by native Moroccans is certainly due in large part to the distinctive climate of the region: Moroccan rugs may be very thick with a heavy pile, making them useful for the snow capped Atlas Mountains; or they may be flat woven and light as to suit the hot climate of the Sahara desert. The nomadic Moroccans and Berber tribes used these pile, knotted, and flat-woven carpets as bed coverings and sleeping mats, as well as for self-adornment, and burial shrouds. Some of these rugs were also used for as saddle blankets. The designs that most frequently appear in handmade Moroccan rugs are traditional and ancient, passed down from weaver to weaver.

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Traditional Moroccan rug, featuring representative design elements.

Elsewhere in Morocco, most major cities have a unique style or design characteristic that distinguishes their carpets. Perhaps the most important carpet-producing city in Morocco is the long time Moroccan capital, Fes. Fes reached its golden age during the Marinid Dynasty of the thirteenth century. At that point, the city was home to over one hundred dye workers and thousands of artisan embroidery studios located in the city's medina. The coastal capital, Rabat, is famous for carpets woven with floral and diamond-shaped elements, and a fairly bare field.

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The tonality of this rug is typical of tribal Moroccan weaves.

Moroccan rugs experienced a growth in popularity in the West with mid-century modern designers – such as Le Corbusier – who paired the thick piled Berber rugs with their sleekly designed furniture. Many of these Berber carpets are woven by the Beni Ourain peoples from the Rif Mountains near Taza. Colors vary from neutral shades to popping hues, with designs ranging from ordered geometric shapes to a more free-form, expressive pattern. Part of the appeal to the modernists was the primitivism in the carpets. Unlike the traditional antique Oriental rugs found in Western interior decoration, there is little elegance about these rugs, yet they fit wonderfully with modernist décor. Vintage and antique Moroccan rugs are fairly popular today for their decorative flexibility and reasonable pricing as compared to other styles of antique rugs.

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This colorful rug showcases the proclivity of Moroccan weavers to utilize bright hues.

 
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