Object Lessons: Tuareg Rugs
“The designs are intricate, but also very muted and quiet.” Souad Larusi is describing the character of the Tuareg rugs she sources from Morocco. “When I see them, I imagine the Tuareg people sitting on them in the desert where there is no light and no sound. Can you imagine that? I wish I had bought more in the old days.”
Photographs courtesy of Larusi.
Souad has been buying and selling tribal rugs and textiles for twenty years. In that time, her eponymous north-London studio, Larusi, has become what the World of Interiors has called “a mecca for high quality antique and bespoke rugs.” Her eye for what one client (Ilse Crawford, no less) described as “earthy, expressive” vintage rugs contributed to the trend for the now-ubiquitous Beni Ourain rugs. (Souad was sourcing these from her native Morocco for years before high-street brands caught on.) “Now,” she says, “people want something new.”
Tuareg rugs are made across the Sahara Desert by nomadic tribespeople living in Mali, Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, and Mauritania. They are woven by hand using durable palm reeds and goat and camel leather. “They use what they have,” says Souad, who prefers mid-century finds to new designs, which are often paler in color. “However, if I come across a stunning new one that is well made, I will buy it.”
The patterns are unique and vary from simple muted bands of color to intricate, interwoven geometric patterns. To prevent fraying, the edges are stitched together with leather strips. Tassels are often left hanging in the corners or at one end of the rug.
Originally intended for use directly on the desert sands, Tuareg rugs are incredibly hard-wearing and versatile. “They were made to be layered with softer textiles for sleeping and sitting, so they lend themselves well to layering,” Souad explains. In the bedroom, for example, a large Tuareg under the bed could be softened with smaller rugs. “I also think they look great underneath dining tables,” Souad adds. If crumbs or spillages occur, they can simply be swept, vacuumed, or sponged down with natural cleaning products.
Natural, sustainable, and entirely unique, the restrained design of Tuareg rugs happens to appeal to Souad’s clientele of tastemakers, including stylists, interior designers, architects, actors, fashion designers, and artists. “The rugs have a timeless elegance and versatility that make them a perfect match for modern interiors,” says Souad.
N.B.: Rug hunters will be able to see for themselves this September, when Souad will be exhibiting a collection of 20 one-off Tuareg rugs at the Larusi Kentish Town studio as part of the London Design Festival (September 16-24).
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