Vintage flat weaves - why they work

Stripes probably rank pretty high on the list of favourite patterns of many people. They make things stand out, without compromising elegance or visual harmony. They add a splash of colour. In rugs and blankets, they can add a “touchable” texture, with warmth and depth. And they are easily incorporated into most styles of décor.

Moroccan Berber tribes have for centuries woven textiles, blankets and kilims (known as 'hanbels') using designs made up of horizontal bands. Working on simple, narrow looms, which could be packed up and carried when tribes moved around, women developed fine artistic skills in balancing colours and dimensions to create lovely and unique Berber textiles, from what seemed to be the simplest of beginnings. Minor variations within these weavings could be deployed to create an exciting graphic effect. Berbers used them for shawls (for both men and women), blankets, tent dividers and floor coverings, with each tribe having their own particular way of interpreting, embellishing and enhancing designs. Some of the most striking pieces are woven from undyed natural light and dark cream, brown and charcoal coloured wool, using variations of these colours, from different types of sheep and from different wool batches. The wool used was often the very finest hand spun yarn, and delicate geometric patterns were frequently woven into bands on shawls and blankets.

A vintage image of Berber girls of the Ait Haddidou tribe, in the High Atlas mountains, wearing striking striped shawls

Women in the Central Atlas mountains, 1973. Photo by Claude Lefébure

Women in the Central Atlas mountains, 1973. Photo by Claude Lefébure

Some Berber tribes combined a palette of light and dark earth tones, to create subtly beautiful textiles

Some Berber tribes combined a palette of light and dark earth tones, to create subtly beautiful textiles

Striped textiles such as these are versatile as they can be mixed with other patterns, bring multiple colours together into a unified scheme and be used to create the illusion of room width or height. Mixing a vintage flat weave with a shaggy vintage carpet creates  gorgeous textures on floors, and they are soft and gentle to walk on. Small vintage flatweaves can be layered on top of larger mats or rugs, to create depth and to frame the smaller piece like a little bit of tribal art.

A Moroccan Beni Ourain rug has been mixed with a striped vintage flat weave, set alongide more polished pieces of furniture and a glossy floor. Photo by Paul Raeside for Architectural Digest

A Moroccan Beni Ourain rug has been mixed with a striped vintage flat weave, set alongide more polished pieces of furniture and a glossy floor. Photo by Paul Raeside for Architectural Digest

Nate Berkus used a small natural striped flaweave laid in top of a rattan type rug in his home in Chicago. From ElleDecor

A large kilim with the simplest of dark brown bands contrast with streamlined upholstery. Design and photo by Alexander Design

A large kilim with the simplest of dark brown bands contrast with streamlined upholstery. Design and photo by Alexander Design

The weekend home of a Calvin Klein Exec, with a long kilim layered on top of a fabulous chocolate brown flat weave. photographed by William Waldron for Elle Decor

The weekend home of a Calvin Klein Exec, with a long kilim layered on top of a fabulous chocolate brown flat weave. photographed by William Waldron for Elle Decor

Maroc Tribal's collection of vintage flat weaves showcases some of the finest weavings we have been able to get hold of. Take a look here ... Kilims