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Marrakech Meets Milan in Beni Rugs’ Ultra-Soft and Inventive Designs

Words by Kate McGregor
a room with a rug and a painting on the wall

Photo courtesy of Beni Rugs

Beni Rugs is reimagining how popular Moroccan rugs are made.

Founded by partners Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia in 2018 as a solution to the overwhelming process of sourcing true Moroccan rugs, Beni Rugs combines ancient weaving techniques (the hand-done process hasn’t changed in hundreds of years) with modern designs and collaborations, and aims to usher in a new age of traditional craft.

The Beni Studio located outside of Marrakech—part weaving atelier, showroom, HQ, and Milanese espresso bar—is a prime example of the brand’s dedication to reinvention: “Everything comes back to our central idea of conversation and connection,” Robert says. “You can stand in the central courtyard and see our weaving team at work, a contemporary sculpture part of an artist collaboration we did at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, our corporate team behind computers, and a client on a visit to design her custom rugs all with one turn.” Here’s how the design duo brought their vision to life:

three men standing next to each other in a room

Photo courtesy of Beni Rugs

The Catalyst

Beni began with the idea of reimagining the shopping experience for a Moroccan rug. Combining ancient handwoven craft with unexpected design partnerships and made-to-order capabilities allowed us to push boundaries. As the brand has evolved, there’s been an increasing focus on also reimagining how Moroccan rugs are made. The new Beni Studio is a vertically integrated production facility in which our rugs are designed, woven, and sold, all under one roof. It’s the first of its kind in Morocco and represents a step forward in working conditions.

The Inspiration

Everywhere, and always in unexpected locations—from film, to haiku poems, to the architecture of Piero Portaluppi in Milan. We love injecting global and historical design references and color palettes into the tradition of Moroccan rug making. For instance, one of our collections with our Artistic Director Colin King drew inspiration from Milanese architecture and mosaic-clad entryways. Our most recent Obscura collection referenced a variety of iconic films and artworks, including Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, _Sergei Parajanov’s _The Color of Pomegranates, Henri Rousseau’s mystical jungles and Music of the Night by Leonora Carrington.

a gray and beige rug with a square in the middle
Beni RugsAncora RugSHOP NOW
a blue and yellow rug with a checkerboard pattern
Beni RugsCast RugSHOP NOW
a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photo courtesy of Beni Rugs

The Philosophy

Beni celebrates imperfection and the charm of the hand. In an age of mass-produced products, it’s very special to us that each rug is always slightly different from the rest—these are soulful objects that are made by a pair of hands, just for you. They bring an instant substance, weight, and coziness to your space. 

The “Pinch Me” Moment

At the core of Beni is the idea of fostering human connection and conversation. This came together beautifully at last year’s Salone del Mobile exhibition in Milan, where we created our first real-world exhibition. We teamed up with Amine el Gotaibi, a contemporary artist who uses raw wool as his medium, and paired his site-specific artwork with Colin King’s designs in a stunning, patina-filled space just outside of the city center. The reaction of visitors to the rugs, sculpture, and brand was a true “pinch me” moment. The sculpture has now found its way back to our showroom outside of Marrakech and has pride of place in our Studio.

a rug with a square design on top of it
Beni RugsEntrata RugSHOP NOW
a gray and yellow rug with a square in the middle
Beni RugsScala RugSHOP NOW
a room with a rug and a painting on the wall

Photo courtesy of Beni Rugs

The Pride and Joy

We are so proud of how our products are made—spotlighting the weaving process in our new Beni Studio outside of Marrakech. Our rugs are woven entirely by hand, on looms that haven’t changed significantly in hundreds of years. They are woven from the very finest quality, 100% live, locally sourced wool available—it took us years to find our wool partner and the resulting rugs are heirloom quality. After being woven, our rugs are put through an intensive and proprietary washing and drying process that gives them their uniquely soft texture and finish. All of this takes place at our new atelier, which also features a water recapture system built to conserve a very scarce resource in Morocco. 

The Current Innovations

We view our rugs as a blank canvas—they are open to interpretation, not only by the weaver at her loom, but also by our partners’ creativity. We’d like to continue exploring styles and architectural eras through our design process. Our latest collection, Obscura, features deep, dream-like hues such as Mystic Blue, Nightfall, Marsh, Moonscape, and Oxblood. We love the moody, mysterious colors that these bring to an interior, especially in the winter near a crackling fire.

a blue rug with a tan border
Beni RugsFrame II RugSHOP NOW

Why Partner with the Expert

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed building trust with our clients and customers—trust in the product, quality, materials, process, client support, and our story. We recognize a similar thread running through The Expert Showroom. Building on the rapport between Experts and clients, Showroom allows clients to feel trust and confidence in the decisions they’re making for their interiors and the brands that they’re bringing into their spaces. The fact that the world’s top designers are not only curating shops but interacting with you in the selection process is game-changing.

a living room with a fire place and a rug

Photo courtesy of Beni Rugs featuring the Gambit Rug

What’s Next for Beni Rugs

We’re launching with a collection of our best-selling classics, alongside exclusive styles created in partnership with Athena Calderone and Colin King—all of which represent the goal of Beni to connect design and craft across time and space. We’re dreaming of moving beyond just design influences to introduce techniques from other weaving cultures to Moroccan traditions. Stay tuned…

a red and white rug on a white background
Beni RugsImbalance RugSHOP NOW
a brown and white rug on a white background
Beni Rugs3 RugSHOP NOW

Shop Beni Rugs now on Showroom.