Personalities: Mo Rachidi from Maroc Tribal
08 Jul 2016
In our series "personalities", we present various players of the design scene which you regularly see the name on Design Addict. Through some questions and answers, we try to discover more about who they are, their careers and their interests.
Today, Mo Rachidi, owner of Maroc Tribal in London.
What brought you to vintage design?
I started Maroc Tribal 10 years ago when I was travelling in Berber villages in Morocco. I’m Moroccan, and I was exploring Berber culture. Since then we’ve built a reputation for our personal sourcing of hand woven vintage Moroccan carpets, rugs, tent cushions and textiles, buying direct from families: getting hold of unusual pieces. Classical modern architects such as Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto or Marcel Breuer started to appreciate Moroccan Berber carpets in about the 1920s and 30s, attracted to their minimalist, bold and abstract forms. They were displayed in the homes of collectors and design enthusiasts across Europe and North America, often championed by French collectors. I think that I was initially attracted to them for some of those same reasons, such as a rejection of figurative representation, bold colours and shapes, and an authentic spirituality.
A large vintage Ait Bou Ichaouen Carpet
Which aspect of the work do you enjoy more? Hunt for a new object or sell an object?
Definitely the hunt. I am looking for the true creative spirit and the finest weaving skills showcased in traditional vintage Berber carpets. With each year that passes, they become harder to find. I visit different regions, where each tribe weaves a different style according to the cultural traditions of that area and the weaver's own creativity. I particularly want rugs that have been produced exclusively for personal use.
Carpet with classic mid century Berber motifs
If you could only save one item from your personal collection, which one would it be?
I collect carpets and textiles from the Ait Bou Ichaouen tribe. These rugs were made in the east side of the Atlas mountains, over near the border with Algeria. This tribe lived in isolated lands, which had few natural resources and thus the Ait Bou Ichaouen rarely wove for the market and their isolation became their biggest strength; leading to unique creativity. So for me it would be this rare and beautiful piece dating back to the late 1950s. http://www.maroctribal.com/rare-carpets/1950s-ait-bou-ichaouen-carpet-ca701
1950s Moroccan Berber Ait Bou Ichaouen Carpet
What's your favorite post from the Design Addict blog and why?
A recent one, showing a rug made of sea algae yarn, knotted in an old fishing net. It was a gorgeous rug, using adventurous design to highlight with beauty how plastic waste is polluting the world's oceans. http://www.designaddict.com/blog/2014/11/03/Sea-Me-rug-made-sea-algae.
What's been the best decision you've made in your life so far?
To learn different languages. I spoke Arabic and Berber from birth, received my education in French and learnt Spanish, Italian and English living in in those countries. That’s connected me to an interesting European-wide as well as global community of designers and collectors, and helped me to understand different people and perspectives. Most of our clients are based in Europe, and we're based in London, and I love the free movement of design, people, ideas and objects across many borders.
A vintage Berber kilim
Is there an item that you regret having sold, that you would have wanted to keep?
Yes, lots. When I first started Maroc Tribal, during those first years I managed to find a number of very big, very old Beni Ouarain rugs - the distinctive large white-ground pile Berber carpets with black or brown designs. Beni Ouarain weavers produced rugs and other textiles for protection against harsh winters in the highland areas. I wish I still had those pieces, as I now find it hard to get hold of original pre 1950s ‘Beni Ouarains.’ There are a lot of copies, passed off as vintage. I do source more contemporary Beni Ouarain rugs but make sure I describe them accurately. Recently I’ve been sourcing bigger new Beni Ouarain carpets as there’s a lot of demand for them in from clients who have big modern spaces to fill.
Old Looped Pile Beni Ouarain Carpet
What is your favourite material?
It’s got to be wool!