Beldi Rugs was launched five years ago as a way for its co-founder Emma Wilson to feed her obsession with vintage Moroccan rugs. “I have been living in and visiting Morocco for the past 20 years,” she explains, “and these individually made pieces of woven art have become my passion. Now I have an excuse to buy as many as I like.”
Wilson’s focus is the one-off pieces that were woven for generations by families in the various regions of the Atlas Mountains. Most date from the 1960s-1980s, but occasionally her dealer comes across something older, such as a Beni Ouarain rug (£7,000) from the 1940s. A favourite of midcentury architects Alvar Aalto and Le Corbusier, these monochrome rugs were woven from sheep’s wool and decorated with diamonds, triangles or simple figures. They are highly prized today (Wilson recently sold a large collection to a London-based architectural practice), and given their scarcity she has teamed up with a co-op in the Atlas Mountains that will weave authentic, patterned Beni Ouarains to order (from £2,500).
Each rug is unique and new pieces arrive on the website all the time, but Wilson and her co-founder Tamsin Flower also curate themed seasonal collections. The autumn/winter 17/18 collection entitled Two Cities. One Tribe focuses on richly coloured, graphic designs that work well in contemporary urban interiors. Highlights include Tilleli (£3,000), a 1980s rug from the Ourika Valley in which vivid diamonds burst out from a dark brown background, and a 1970s Rafiq (£2,500), handwoven in sheep’s wool so light it could be used as a throw.
It is also possible to shop by rug type. Those who know their Moroccan rugs will no doubt go straight to their favourite style, but newcomers can embark on a delightful journey of discovery. Click “Azilal”, for example, and you enter a world of fine, almost clothlike cream rugs enlivened with dashes of vibrant colour; try “Boujad” and you find the pile-woven red, orange and pink-toned rugs of the Haouz region.
“Each piece I buy is a gem,” says Wilson, “and the patterns tell the personal story of the family who wove it, creating a unique piece of history.”