Neale Whi­taker: Gives tips on how best to rug up


Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSLE LIVING - Neale Whi­taker

At what point does a de­sign trend be­come a phe­nom­e­non? I’ve asked my­self that ques­tion many times (I’m think­ing more those sin­u­ous Serge Mouille lamps and rat­tan-backed Jean­neret chairs than wooden antlers or “Keep Calm” signs) and I guess the an­swer is when it pops up in homes from Mel­bourne to Mi­lan to Mar­rakech. Plan­ning an is­sue of

Vogue Liv­ing re­cently, I no­ticed that ev­ery home, re­gard­less of its in­te­rior style or lo­ca­tion, shared a sin­gle com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor – the Moroc­can rug. Now that’s a phe­nom­e­non.

The dis­tinc­tive hand­wo­ven, deep-pile Beni Ou­rain rugs (named af­ter the Moroc­can Ber­ber tribe) have be­come a de­sign sta­ple in re­cent years and I con­fess I’m a fan. I have an orig­i­nal from the 1970s and never tire of it. Like an orig­i­nal Eames chair or a Noguchi lamp, it’s time­less. My dogs are pretty smit­ten with it, too.

In­te­rior de­signer Ja­son Mowen was among the first in Aus­tralia to cham­pion Moroc­can rugs. “I re­mem­ber my first trip to Morocco and be­ing blown away by th­ese in­cred­i­ble rugs in our ho­tel,” he re­calls. “There’s some­thing se­duc­tive about them and I love how prim­i­tive they are, prob­a­bly made the same way as they were a thou­sand years ago.”

Mowen says he’s seen Moroc­can rugs change hands for up to $20,000 and the old­est he’s had at his Syd­ney gallery was from the 1920s: “So frag­ile it had to be hung on the wall.” He be­lieves their broad ap­peal lies in “the tex­ture and per­son­al­ity they add to al­most any in­te­rior”. I’ve seen them used to stun­ning ef­fect on con­crete floors, paired with an­tique fur­ni­ture, or as a rich foil to the clean lines of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign.

If you’re re­luc­tant to fork out for an orig­i­nal (no two Beni Ou­rain rugs are iden­ti­cal – you’re pay­ing for in­di­vid­u­al­ity), there are plenty of af­ford­able al­ter­na­tives in­spired by the tra­di­tional de­signs. Some of the best are from Ar­madillo & Co (ar­madillo-co. com), Loom (loom­ and Tigmi Trad­ing (tig­mi­trad­ And the trend’s rip­ple ef­fect has spawned a plethora of eth­nic de­signs in a sim­i­lar pal­ette that cre­ate – if not quite the lux­ury of Moroc­can rugs – some­thing pretty close. Take an in­sider tip and check out the amaz­ing Ar­gen­tinian weaves at Pampa ( Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

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