Inspired by Morocco’s beautiful landscape, rich tones and old-world architecture, along with its ancient rug-making traditions, entrepreneurs Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia are modernizing the trade of Moroccan rugs with their brand Beni Rugs, founded in 2018. Offering rugs that are authentically (and ethically) handmade in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, the duo specializes in easily customizable designs ranging from natural forms and abstract artwork to zellige tilework patterns. Expanding its footprint outside the digital marketplace, the company recently launched two physical locations: a studio headquarters near Marrakech and its first U.S. showroom, Beni Apartment, in downtown New York City.
Featuring a showroom with sleek rug displays, a vast collection of yarns and color, and a team of Berber women who weave in a courtyard surrounding a 150-year-old olive tree, the brand’s new Morocco studio will be the first space where clients can not only design a custom rug but meet the craftspeople behind their creation. “The fact that they’ll also be able to enjoy Italian coffee and play petanque afterward doesn’t hurt either,” says Lobo-Navia. Initially, the duo were only focused on building out the headquarters. “We didn’t know the opportunity in New York City would come so soon,” Wright says of the decision to open a U.S. showroom. They learned of an available apartment in Greenwich Village through friend and longtime collaborator stylist Colin King, and they fell in love. Between the herringbone floors, perfectly patinated doors and French doors that open to a garden, very little had to be done to make the space feel on-brand. “The bones of this apartment fit the bill perfectly,” explains Wright.
Situated in a historic brownstone on West 9th Street, the nontraditional showroom appeals to a globetrotting clientele. “We had Donald Judd–inspired shelving custom-built to highlight Moroccan treasures, vessels and Robert and Tiberio’s favorite books,” explains King. “The rest of the decor is all either custom or vintage, highlighting Beni’s love of global design and craftsmanship. The space is made to feel like you could be in New York, but also in any of the timeless locations Beni has staged their brand shoots previously.” A rotating, seasonal installation of handwoven Beni knotted and flat weave rugs will highlight new designs and special collaboration collections at the Apartment, including their newest works with Athena Calderone, the powerhouse creative behind influential lifestyle site EyeSwoon. “Athena’s collection is really beautiful,” says Lobo-Navia. “Geometric designs in a sun-faded, feminine palette—a totally new direction for Beni. I can say that we had an absolute blast photographing the collection in Mallorca earlier this year.” The pair plans to be in town every few months to host intimate events. Plus, the showroom will treat guests to a special blend of coffee created by Moroccan brand Bloom Coffee. “We can’t wait to light a fire on a cold winter day and welcome our friends and collaborators to the space to see what’s new,” says Wright.
Main photo: Beni customizable Lock rug, pair of chairs from Ponce Berga, floor lamp from Dobrinka Salzman and art from BK Antiques