Everyone knows that a Moroccan rug is the idiotproof way to enrich a room. The soft texture of a Beni Ourain–style floor covering emits warmth and never looks too “shaggy,” and the colors range from that perfect shade of buttery white to electric hues that you would never expect to work in your home but totally do. Of course, because Moroccan rugs are so damn stylish and durable, they also come with a hefty price tag. A seller will tell you they last forever (and they do!), but it’s nevertheless hard to swallow the thousands you have to spend in one sitting. That’s why we were thrilled to hear the phrase “direct-to-consumer Moroccan rugs” to describe the new company Beni Rugs. The brainchild of Soludos alum Robert Wright and hospitality expert and artist Tiberio Lobo-Navia, this e-comm brand is here to solve a few problems with buying a Moroccan rug: that super high price, size and color limitations, and authenticity.
The Range rug by Beni Rugs; photo by Grant Legan.
It all started two years ago when the cofounders met an extremely friendly family in Marrakech that has been in the rug business for generations. They spent all day with the family, learning about the local industry’s passion for keeping the ancient process of making Beni Ourain rugs alive. “It really is a craft that is untouched by time,” says Robert. “From shearing the wool, to washing it, to weaving the rugs knot by knot, entirely by hand.”
The pair brought several rugs back to the States, and when many of their friends wanted one for themselves, Robert and Tiberio tried to connect them with the original family in Marrakech to place an order. But, as when working with most old-world craftspeople in faraway places, it wasn’t so easy to arrange from overseas. “They were trying to buy based on really small photos that weren’t the best quality, or the sizes were always a bit wonky, or the colors were off,” recalls Robert. When they noticed that there wasn’t anyone who had modernized the process of buying authentic rugs directly from Morocco, they decided they would try their hand at it: “We wanted to provide a platform to showcase these artisans making the rugs – which is such a beautiful process – but also allow them to be accessible to a wider group of people.”
The hand-weaving process of traditional Moroccan rug