Once I opened the lid on the well of inspiration that I brought back from Morocco, there’s no stopping it. Being back, my only regret is not having brought 10 empty suitcases there or spent my savings on sending a couple of shipping containers of goods back to Berlin to adorn both my home and the SemiDomesticated showroom.

My absolute favorite item in Morocco were the Berber Kilims. These hand woven and embroidered rugs come in all kinds of patterns and colors; dyed in natural dyes made from herbs, spices, octopus ink and what-have-you.

The tradition of creating the kilims is passed on from one generation to the next, from a mother to her daughter. The rug vendors would, more often than not, have a close relationship with, or perhaps be related to the makers of the rugs. We were told, by kind vendors (and good salesmen) over cups of fresh mint tea, that the women tell their stories through the kilims. Each of the symbols and patterns, which vary from tribe to tribe, along with the method of weaving and embroidery, have different meanings and significance. Knowing the symbols you can literally “read” the kilims.

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Above: Kilim pillow, Beautiful white interior with kilim rugs, Kilim and leather backpack, Leather slippers
Above: Light pastel interior with kilim throw pillows, Kilim weekender, Interior with kilim mix, Moroccan wedding blankets
Above: Rustic white interior with kilim throw, kilim and leather boots, mid century modern with kilim, Moroccan linen

 

In Morocco, a killim’s lifespan does not end when it gets worn or ripped — it’s made into something else. Most popular are the kilim boots, and bags in all varieties from backpacks to weekenders. While upcycling or remaking something new from something old, discarded or broken, is seen as a new thing — a radical statement or political act against mass production and consumption in our society — it’s the most natural thing in the world to Moroccans. We often forget that this was the only way it was done before the industrial revolution, and for most “common folk”, for long after.

The Berber people’s attitude and the love for their craft reminded me again of many of the reasons why we started SemiDomesticated in the first place; the idea of falling in love and developing long lasting relationships with the things we surround ourselves with rather than giving in to our every materialistic desire — and the idea that our belongings tell a story, of who they’re made by, what they’ve been through, perhaps how they were re-made and of who they currently belong to. Salesmen or not, these vendors are not lying when they tell you that their rugs are an investment; “you’re not losing money, you are keeping the money in the rug” or “you will have this rug for the rest of your life and it can be passed on to your children”. How often do you hear these phrases at your local shopping mall?

Love,
Anette


PS! When shopping for Kilims or rugs in a foreign country, make sure to educate yourself. As friendly as the vendors often are, they are selling after all, so don’t take everything with a grain of salt. Know how to test whether or not something is real wool or has fake fiber in it, to see if something is hand made rather than machine woven.
Please note that the images above are chosen for their aesthetic quality and for inspiration. Several of them may not be of Moroccan or Berber origin, but illustrate a style and aesthetic inspired by my visit to Morocco.