Will Beni Ourain Rugs Work With My Design Style?

Date: September 20, 2016

So you know those rugs that you’ve been seeing everywhere over the last couple of years? The white, shaggy rugs with the uncomplicated, primitive geometric patterns. Yeah, those. Ever wonder what the story is there? Me too. I feel that these rugs have become so widely distributed and copied that it is important to know and appreciate their history and artistry. These rugs are woven by women of the Beni Ourain tribes of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The tribal people of this region have been weaving rugs for literally thousands of years and patterns and symbols in the weaves are passed down from one generation to the next.  It’s remarkable to know that such a culture still exists in our ever modernizing world.  I mean, can you actually believe that there are still people out there that aren’t attached to phones? I know. Craziness. Morocco, a land of desert, souks, and Casablanca, doesn’t exactly conjure images of a place that requires fluffy, fluffy rugs, however the Atlas Mountains have higher elevations and experience a chillier, fluctuating climate than the parts of the country that we may be familiar with. Hence the fluff.  I could go on forever about the symbolism and craft of these magnificent pieces of art (Huge history/cultural nerd here!), but I know that what everyone is really interested in is how they are used in interior design now and why are they so popular.

Many mid-century modern designers such as Le Corbusier and Charles and Ray Eames used these to offset the polished and sleek lines of their furniture designs. With mid-century modern resurging in popularity over the last several years (Thank you, Mad Men!), it was only a matter of time before these rugs were remembered by the style setters. These rugs truly are wonderful in every way. They are so soft underfoot, especially real handmade Moroccan Beni Ourains because of the quality of sheep’s wool that they are woven with. The rugs have a very primitive feeling which offsets modern interiors nicely. The geometry of these pieces, however, can really be a less harsh way to add a bit of edge and crispness to a more traditional or transitional space. And of course they are black and/or brown and white so you couldn’t ask for a more neutral piece!

So while these rugs may be to the point of grating on some peoples’ nerves with their prolonged popularity and mass production knock-offs, I admire them and like to think of the story told by them, of the women who make them, and their place in the history of design.

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Now here’s some pretty pictures and no more of my rambling.


Glam and eclectic this living room is a smart blend of textures and color. Large pieces like the sofa and lamps are kept neutral so that accessories and drapes can shine.


Modern eclectic, this living room has Mid-Century pieces mixed with some global ones among others. An arc floor lamp draws the eye all around this dynamic room.


Long hallways can be a bit of a void in a home. Adding these beautiful Moroccan textured rugs and artwork throughout keeps the eye moving all down the length of the space.


Another eclectic living room using a Beni Ourain rug and mixing in Mid-Century furniture pieces. An overall neutral color palette keeps this room from getting too busy.


Contemporary eclecticism. A stark white color palette leaves the textures and clean lines of the furniture in the space to make a statement.


Mixing in traditional chairs , sofa, and draperies in this living room keep the layered Beni Ourain rug from feeling too contemporary or trendy.


Modern and funky this dining room uses the Beni Ourain rug to frame the furniture and create a focal point in the center of the room.


Whimsical, bright, and fun this living room doesn’t take itself too seriously. With a Mid-Century coffee table, cabinet, and sofa the bold colors really stand out in this space.


A Beni Ourain rug in its natural habitat.

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