“Our customers have the chance to view lots of tribal rugs online. If they like what they see, they can order their rug direct or come to London and see it and any other pieces before making a final decision”, says Nasima Begum, co-founder of Moroccan Hanbels.
“In fact, we encourage people to visit our souk in Spitalfields Market before they buy. You can see the rugs in good daylight and visit a very interesting, historic part of London. The covered, Victorian Market is now home to a dozen shops which all offer something different in interior design and the atmosphere of the market – with all its stalls, food outlets, and other events – makes for an enjoyable day out.”
“The British market for Moroccan rugs is not as developed as that in the USA. The Americans have long valued the bold modernity of these textiles. We have been slower in this country to feel at home with modern interiors.”
“Our rugs have a hard-edge to their geometry and yet are full of expression. Once you have lived with them for a while, you think of them in the same way as a modern artwork. Then you need to remind yourself that they were made by women living very hard lives in isolated parts of Morocco”, comments Muhammad Thompson.
“There is no doubt that the work of these anonymous and devout Muslim women played a significant part in the development of modern art in Europe and the USA: Delacroix, Matisse, Gaugin … these painters all valued their textiles and found inspiration in them. Twentieth-century architects and designers (such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Eames, Alto) found their textures and colors to be a vital counterbalance to the modern spaces they were defining.
“And yet, the oriental rug trade has not valued them here in the same way as it prizes work from the East. At this year’s Hali Fair the three exhibitors of Moroccan rugs had traveled from as far away as Marrakech, Austria, and Paris.
That’s good in one respect for shoppers – prices are much lower here than in the USA and there is every indication that the collectible pieces will prove to be a good investment. The Berbers believe that a good rug is better than money in the bank -and much more enjoyable.
So now, if you want to sample the modern and exotic style of Moroccan flatweaves, a trip to Spitalfields may bring its short and long-term rewards. Prices range from £200 to £900 for room-sized pieces.
Throughout August Moroccan Hanbels are staging an exhibition of their unique collection of Zaiane and Beni M’Gild tribal rugs from the Middle Atlas region.