Corn & Celeste: Recycled Berber Rugs

After a looonnggg relaxing break over the Christmas and New Year, it is time to get back into the swing of things and into a routine again. And what better way to get things swinging than with a quick chat to Georgie from Corn & Celeste about her beautiful berber rugs.

Corn & Celeste Berber Rugs are handmade from recycled materials in the Middle Atlas Mountain’s, Morocco. For centuries, the women of these mountain’s have hand loomed the Berber rugs from recycled materials brought in from charity organisations. Every rug is unique, luxurious and a welcome addition to any space.

I stole five minutes of Georgie’s time to chat about these beautiful pieces.

Firstly, what is a berber rug?

Berber rugs first started to emerge from The Middle Atlas Mountains circa 1960 as a result of widespread economic, social and cultural hardship and change in agricultural Morocco. As these mountainous tribes were forced away from traditional rural practices due to drought and raw materials like wool and cotton becoming more expensive and scarce, family looms in tribes such as the Berber people, started using scraps of used fibers like synthetics, lurex and nylon and weaving them in a ‘free form’ style with repurposed, pre-manufactured cotton and wool products.

These materials usually came from donated clothes from aid workers assisting these areas. The tribes traditionally use rugs for floor matting in their huts and blankets on their donkeys.

How did Corn & Celeste Berber Rugs come about?

I came across these incredible rugs when travelling through Morocco. I was blown away by their colour and quirky patterning. They are seen more widely now but at the time they hadn’t really made it to our shores. We were working on a beach house with a modest budget and I was struggling to find rugs that were sophisticated, interesting, colourful and not too expensive.

We decided to import some of the Berber rugs I had seen for the beach house job and cost wise, it made sense to bring in a crate of them. We had such an amazing response to being able to supply these rugs that we have continued to import them. We don’t have a retail space so we are able to keep the price of them way down when compared to other homewares/decorating stores stocking them.Berber Rug

What makes them so unique?

A Berber rugs uniqueness is in its exciting and unexpected explosions of pattern and colour juxtaposition, more likened to a Post-Modernist work of art than a tribal textile composition!

I love this description I read in the NY Times a few years ago. It communicates beautifully how these rugs make viewers and spaces come alive like a precious art piece:
“Surfaces fill up with fat lozenge and chevron shapes that melt and ooze, Dalí-clock style. Top-to-bottom zigzag bars form gawky, out-of-synch chorus lines. Dense passages of pointillist speckling suggest plates of couscous or Jackson Pollock paintings.”…
…“With their zany patterns and jolting colours, these household items look dolled up and ready to party; they seem more suitable for framing than for trampling underfoot.” Cotter, H 2010, ‘Wild, Not Woolly, Berber Rugs’ The New York Times Art Review’, July 22nd 2010, p. C23

How do these rugs benefit Moroccan communities?

We continue to source our rugs directly from the tribes of the Middle Atlas Mountains. Not only are old clothes, blankets etc being recycled to provide materials for the rugs, but the communities who make them are continuing to use and teach their traditional looming skills and artesian talents while making an income for their families. They are, quite rightly, very proud of their creations. Each one is completely different and it amazes me how the weavers continue to come up with such individual designs time after time. I guess when you are working with recycled and unknown materials creativity is at its optimum as you must be inspired by what you have at hand! A beautiful way to work.

To continue to make these Berber Rugs, where do the women source the recycled materials?

The people of the Middle Atlas Mountains still use old clothes and other pre-owned materials to create these rugs.

NB: A few of the Corn & Celeste Berber Rugs contain wool so if this is something you avoid, please keep this in mind.

Please visit Pitchi or Corn & Celeste for more information.



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