Project Spotlight

At the New Beni Rugs Studio in Marrakech, the Subversive Digital Upstart Fashions a Moroccan Oasis

Situated on the Route to Amizmiz, the multifaceted space exudes elements of a showroom, studio, design boutique, and private members club rolled into one.

Photography courtesy of Grant Legan.

Under the direction of cofounders Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia, Beni Rugs continues to push the Moroccan carpet industry headlong into the modern age with bold designs—such as the capsule by interior stylist Colin King inspired by the colors of Morocco’s coastal villages and a reimagined customer experience—while staying true to the timeless traditions of the craft. The three-year-old brand’s latest triumph is a dynamic experiential studio 20 minutes outside of Marrakech that feels like a friend’s tasteful vacation home. (The previously direct-to-consumer retailer also recently opened a space in New York City’s West Village.)

Housed in a retrofitted awning factory in the up-and-coming artisan hub of Tameslouht, the 8,000-square-foot space is outfitted with a working studio of Berber weavers manning custom looms, a Milan–style café with a vintage 1950’s Marzocco espresso machine, and aromatic gardens dreamed up by the Marrakech-based designer Valentin Green. There, patrons can play a few rounds of petanque, similar to bocce, while ensconced in a setting of white ‘Beldi’ roses, a mix of agaves and grasses, and a 150-year-old olive tree. Inside, the brand’s collections in traditional high pile Beni Ourain or flat woven styles are on display next to pieces from local makers.

Below, we take an in-depth look at the new space.

Project Description: Two years after launching the digital home of Beni Rugs, co-founders Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia broke ground on their newly opened 8,000-square-foot studio in Tameslouht, Morocco.

The studio—which houses a design HQ, rug showroom, and team of incredible Berber women who weave the brand’s creations—is situated on the Route to Amizmiz, an emerging design enclave twenty minutes south of the bustling city of Marrakech. The studio aims to modernize the traditional set-up of shopping for handcrafted Moroccan rugs within the city’s markets—carpets are displayed on sleek modular rack systems, an immense selection of yarns and color swatches inspire customization, and an open-air courtyard that’s centered around a 150-year-old olive tree allows for a full view of more than 50 looms at work.

Private transfer from Marrakech to the studio is available, where guests are greeted by the team and given a personal tour. “We want visitors to the space to browse unhurriedly, get inspired, and enjoy an espresso from our Milan-inspired bar,” says Lobo-Navia. “We’re integrating pieces from local artisans and artists alongside our favorite Morocco-based brands so that guests will be able to discover the craft of Morocco. Everything in the studio will also be shoppable.”

Shoppers can select from Beni designs in either traditional high pile Beni Ourain or flat woven styles, choose from eighteen background and line colors, opt for tassels, and play with proportion, shape, and size.

Project Blueprint: The studio space, which is located near an outpost of Mustapha Blaoui, MC Pots, Berber Lodge, and Beldi Country Club was previously used as an awning factory. The space was remodeled with the help of local Moroccan carpenters, ironworkers, and artisans. A local ironworker created the brand’s custom looms and modular rack system on which they’re displaying rugs. Custom hanging pendants in the office and showroom space were made and hammered by hand by a craftsman in the medina of Marrakech. 

The Milan-inspired coffee bar was built entirely by hand by a skilled carpenter based in Casablanca. The team imported a vintage 1950’s Marzocco espresso machine and partnered with local favorite Bloom Coffee on a custom blend so visitors can sip cafe drinks while they browse, wander, and design their own rug. 

Outdoors, there is a traditional, functional petanque court, lined with lavender and roses. The garden was redesigned by the Marrakech-based designer Valentin Green. It’s filled with white ‘Beldi’ roses, aromatic herbs, and a mix of agaves and grasses.

Project Takeaways/Uniqueness: The new Beni space highlights an evolution for the growing business operations. By expanding their digital footprint to a permanent physical space, it allows Wright and Lobo-Navia to pay their team of weavers rates that are well above market, and ensure government benefits such as healthcare and insurance. “The studio allows us to own and control our total operation”, says Wright. “One of our goals since inception was the ability to really take care of the people who have helped shape this brand with their bare hands. We view this as a major shift in how weavers in Morocco are compensated and are proud to support and protect this ancient craft.” Childcare and transportation will also be a part of the team’s practices. An innovative water recapture and filtration system was also implemented, which allows for the brand to keep the traditional process as environmentally low impact as possible.

The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design. 

Beni Rugs is a member of The List, the destination for all things Surface-approved. Want to join The List? Contact our team to find out how to apply.


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