Exploring Beauty with Robert Wright, co-founder of Beni Rugs
It’s the ultimate interiors statement piece: a finely crafted Moroccan rug, beloved of many an Instagram shot. For modern rug brand Beni Rugs, however, while their grid contains many lust-worthy images of contemporary homes adorned with their creations, it’s also peppered with real moments from the creative process – fingers flying across a loom, or rugs being washed and dried in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
This juxtaposition is what defines Beni Rugs: a modern, global brand that pays homage to traditional Moroccan craftsmanship and provides employment for the local artisans who bring their designs to life. We chatted to co-founder Robert Wright about the Beauty of Beni’s process and how the brand found its feet at a difficult time when the interest in making one’s own home beautiful has never been higher.
How did the idea for Beni Rugs come about?
Beni came about after a photoshoot I produced in Marrakech for a brand called Soludos. We shot for one day inside a rug shop, and everyone on the crew ended up purchasing a rug (or three!). When friends and family saw them, they wanted to find their own authentic Moroccan rug. It was then that we realized there was room in the market for a brand that focused on made-to-order rugs of the highest quality, blending ancient tradition with a modern, global design influence.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
Beni Rugs is owned by myself and my business partner Tiberio. He’s an artist and is constantly sketching new design concepts. We plan out our collections and new releases about a year or so in advance. The creative process starts by pulling together influences and concepts for each collection – for example, when we launched our Modern Art collection, we made multiple mood boards of our favourite contemporary artists. Tiberio then starts designing a collection of 20-30 rugs, which we then edit, refine, and obsess over until we arrive at a collection of around 8-12 final designs. Then it’s time to start the process of custom-dyeing shades and making sample rugs.
Where do you draw inspiration from, both within Morocco and beyond?
A wide variety of sources! We like to think that Beni sits at the intersection of the ancient and the modern. Therefore, while some of our most popular designs are quite traditional, we have others that are influenced by everything from the surface pattern of sunlight on a pool to the Bauhaus movement.
How has your business been impacted by Covid-19?
The impacts of Covid-19 have been significant. Morocco’s lockdown has slowed progress across every aspect of our business, which means our lead times have increased over the course of the pandemic. On the flip side, the interest in making one’s home beautiful has never been higher. We’ve been lucky enough to see our business hold steady and even grow during this time, which we don’t take for granted. We’ve focused on greatly expanding our weaving team in the Middle Atlas region. This pandemic has been a tough time for artisans in Morocco, so we are thrilled to be able to bring new team members on board in the towns where we weave.
Can you discuss the importance of craftsmanship for your business?
Craftsmanship is really the beating heart of Beni. Everything we do, we want to do with the wisdom of the past in mind. We still weave our rugs the same way they’ve been woven for generations in Morocco – knot by knot. We use the finest Moroccan wool we can find. What’s unusual in our process is our proprietary washing and drying method. Each rug is washed and dried outside up to five times, resulting in a unique, super-soft finish and texture. This focus on quality is our top priority – and we’ve found that our customers know that good things take time. In an age of mass-produced, machine-made rugs, owning something that is truly one-of-a-kind takes on greater value than ever.
Where is your absolute favorite place in Morocco and why?
Great question! At the moment, it’s the construction site of our current project outside of Marrakech. Tiberio and I wander around for hours, planning and dreaming about what it will be when we’re finished!
Finally, what's next for Beni Rugs?
We are very excited about the next year. I can’t say too much at the moment, but a physical presence near Marrakech (and in the US) is on the horizon. When we started Beni, our goal was to reimagine how people shop for rugs digitally. We’d now like to start exploring how to apply that approach to the physical realm. Stay tuned for more.Follow Beni Rugs’s journey at https://www.benirugs.com or on Instagram at @beni_rugs – and to be the first to know more about how we’re spotlighting our community of creators (as well as exclusive offers, product drops and more), follow us @whind.