These Vibrant Rugs Are a Timeless Ode to Moroccan Architecture

Captivated by the colors of Morocco’s coastal villages, Beni Rugs taps the interior stylist Colin King to create a capsule of handwoven rugs with stellar results.

All photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

During what can most diplomatically be described as a hectic year, little pleasures like a well-designed rug can feel like a breath of fresh air—and Colin King’s calming capsule collection for Beni Rugs is here to deliver. Departing from the traditional black-and-white Beni Ourain rug that’s well-known in Western markets, the sought-after interior stylist introduced large stripes and blocks of saturated blues, rusty tones, and deep yellows to a brand-new octet of rugs—his first-ever experiment in the medium—called The Shape of Color. Appropriately, King cites the beloved Color Field painters Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Josef Albers, and Kenneth Noland as chief inspiration: “In particular, I was struck by how Donald Judd used color as material,” says King. “The shapes he used were simple because they’re only meant to be carriers of color; to transport the color.”

Beni Rugs has built a reputation for exquisitely crafted Moroccan rugs that are hand-produced by the North African country’s nomadic Berber people using centuries-old flat weaving techniques. “In an ever-modernizing world, the Berbers stand out as one of the last bastions of tradition and craft,” says King, whose partnership with Beni evolved organically during a trip to Morocco with the founders, Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia. The trio was exploring the country’s historic architecture, refined craft traditions, and rich cuisine while tackling a different project with the photographer Simon Watson, but after wandering the markets of Marrakech and enjoying casual conversation over tagine and tea, a follow-up collaboration seemed inevitable. 

King fondly recalls how the “cobalt blue window frames, emerald carved doors, and fruit stands selling fresh orange juice” spotted across Marrakech, Tangier, and the lush beach town of Asilah got his creative juices flowing. “The berber rugs and vintage textiles draped from the rooftops were impossibly charming,” he says, noting how each setting’s unbound creative stimulation made his design process feel easy, almost effortless. That’s no small feat for King—even though his dynamic approach to interior styling shines through each rug, the self-avowed minimalist admits to once being afraid of injecting color into his work. The trio worked together for more than a year to custom dye seven new shades, weaving sample after sample until the collection fully embodied their exploration of color, light, composition, and architecture. And the results stun: the subtle variations found within a soulful terracotta shade, for example, replicate the timeworn facades of buildings in Marrakech.

The Shape of Color captivates even more inside Axel Vervoordt and Tatsuro Miki’s exquisite penthouse at the Greenwich Hotel in New York, where the team enlisted Stephen Kent Johnson to photograph each standout colorway. With Vervoordt’s signature fusion of Belgian and Japanese aesthetics lending a pleasant contrast to the handwoven rugs’ plush textures, each image flawlessly illustrates King’s respectful, cross-cultural approach—and how Beni Rugs never fails to keep things simple, quality-driven, and beautiful.

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