Once a Digital-Only Brand, Beni Rugs Opens a Showroom in New York and Marrakech

Considering this was a year in which many brands shrank their physical presence or moved their activities mostly online, it seems doubly impressive that the direct-to-consumer brand Beni Rugs opened not one but two IRL HQs this month — one a studio apartment in the West Village in New York, outfitted with the help of frequent collaborator Colin King, and the other a former awning factory turned 8,000-square-foot studio in Tameslouht, Morocco, situated on the Route to Amizmiz, an emerging design area twenty minutes south of Marrakech. “It certainly was not our intention to open both at once,” laughs Tiberio Lobo-Navia, who launched Beni in 2018 with co-founder Robert Wright. “New York kind of presented itself as a last-minute opportunity that we couldn’t turn down, but the studio in Morocco — I mean, we were looking for spaces for almost year and a half until we found this one. There was a beautiful courtyard in the center that was completely closed off, so we blasted in and now you can see straight from one corner to the other. We’re sitting here in our offices looking across the courtyard at a 150-year-old olive tree, and just beyond it are the weavers.”

In Morocco, everything from production to sales is under one roof. There are rugs displayed on modular racks, yarns and color swatches to inspire customization, a café, a water recapture system for washing and drying, and 50+ looms, where the weavers — who receive above-market rates, childcare, and transportation — work. “One of our goals since inception was the ability to really take care of the people who have helped shape this brand with their bare hands,” says Wright. “We view this as a major shift in how weavers in Morocco are compensated.” In New York, the vibe is more homey, with a working fireplace, a selection of vintage furniture, and Donald Judd–inspired shelves, designed by King, displaying ceramics and objects Wright and Lobo-Navia have brought back from their travels. Both locations allow for something that wasn’t really possible before — for customers to see the full-sized rugs in person before committing to buy. It’s something that was important to Beni’s co-founders, considering the brand was founded with a mission to streamline and make more visible the process of buying a Moroccan rug. “Typically a weaver had a certain amount of wool, a certain amount of supplies and they worked with what they had, not necessarily aware of what the consumer was looking for,” says Wright. “Getting the sizes to be consistent, scaling the patterns, and working by order number was kind of revolutionary. Now a client can come, they can view designs, they can meet the team, and they can actually meet the weavers who will likely be making their rug. We’ve pretty much tried to do everything a little bit differently while keeping intact the tradition and the wisdom of the past.”

New York

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