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Learn All About Handmade Rug Types & Terms in our Rug Glossary!

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We don’t mean to brag, but our rug gallery is one of the most unique in New England, and is absolutely stacked with a large and distinctive collection of only the most beautiful, handmade pieces. Bold, vibrant, understated, detailed, simplistic, and a great mix of both modern and traditional – we have got something for everyone’s taste. For me, the most interesting part of a visit to the rug gallery is all the incredible history behind each type of rug, and the huge level of detail and work that goes into the creation of every one. Touring the gallery with Callum McPherson will give you a first hand look into the amazing world of handmade carpets. You can learn about the origin of the rug, the techniques used to weave it, the history of the design style, and so much more. To prepare for our upcoming rug sale, we are creating several guides on how to purchase a rug for your home. Here is a glossary of terminology, important to know when viewing and purchasing. Check back soon for our free rug buying guide later this month!

Design and Technique Terms:

Abrash 
Difference in color throughout the rug. This comes from the variations of the wool used to weave the rug. When the wool is dyed before the rug is woven, the dye reflects differently based on the specific pile of wool it is used on. These variations in color give the rug a natural feel.

Flat Weave 
A type of rug, which is woven, rather than knotted. They are much flatter and thinner than knotted rugs because they do not have pile. This makes the rugs easier to transport, and they are therefore still utilized all over the world as wall tapestries, for prayer rugs, and as saddle pads. Many middle eastern countries still weave these by hand, while other rug manufacturers have switched to machinery and tools to produce rugs faster, which also makes the rugs less expensive than the hand woven ones. (note: Mohr & McPherson does not specialize in machine made rugs.)

Overdyed 
A recent technique developed to give rugs, an overall color and a more modern esthetic. Often this is done to salvage an old rug, which will have had undesirable colors or have become faded. The original color is stripped down to more of the natural base colors and the rug is saturated with one, vibrant color. By Dying over the original colors and designs, the rug becomes more fluid and flexible in style. It is easier to add a rug to a room when it is one color, rather than multi colored and heavily patterned, such as the traditional Eastern rugs that were popular in the west in the early to mid 20th century. Now people are looking for less design, which can make a bolder statement, while still remaining simple. The original markings of the rug can still be detected beneath the dye, giving it a rustic quality, and creating nuances and variations within the solid color.

Pile Weave 
A type of rug which is knotted rather than woven on a loom. It consists of three layers- the base threads, normally made of cotton which, are the foundation, a woven layer that acts as a cushion, and the final layer, which is the ends of each individual knot after being cut and is called the pile of a rug. You can run your hand over the top layer of this rug, and the pile will brush back and forth. This is where sheen may come into play.

Sheen 
When buying a rug, you may be looking for one with a certain level of sheen. When walking around the perimeter of the rug, you will observe that the light picks up certain colors more brightly from different angles, and the shadow of each thread makes it appear darker. This is based on the direction the knots were tied in, in relation to the angle you are looking from. If the brightness and depth of the colors does not change with your position, the rug does not have a high level of sheen. This is a result of both the quality of wool or silk used in the rug and the washing process done before use.. Silk rugs will also always have a much higher level of sheen than wool. This element is relevant when purchasing a pile rug, but will not be a concern with a flat weave rug.

Styles of Rugs:

Beni Ourain (Thick Pile) 
This style of rug is named after the Beni Ourain tribe in Morocco, which is made up of 17 different Berber tribes within the Atlas Mountains. This tribe is known for their plush, soft, cream-colored rugs, with black or brown stripes, usually in diagonal, intersecting patterns. The rugs are made from sheep wool. The vintage Beni Ourain rugs are neautral in color and abstract in design, which is perfect for the modern décor styles of today. They are versatile, and low in price. During the birth of modern design in the 20th century, these rugs were used by many famous designers, and are therefore linked with classic modern style. The vintage ones were not massed produced originally, and no two are alike. Now they are extremely popular and made in several different countries.

 

Indian Dhurrie (Flatweave)
This style of flatweave is almost always made from tightly woven cotton, which gives it a light feel and makes for the perfect rug in a light room. The colors used in an Indian Dhurrie are often brighter pastel colors and look very current when coupled with their traditional geometric patterns.

Khotan (Pile)
These are similar to the Mamluks, but less geometrical. The designs, while also based often around a center diamond shape, are more flowery and delicate than the framework of the Mamluk.

Kilim (Flatweave) (Persia, Turkey, Balkans and Eastern Europe) 
This style dates back to the 5th century. and is a flat weave with no pile. The patterns are based in a geometric style, often featuring medallions, diamonds, and the famous Mahi (Herati) design which is a diamond medallion with a small fish through in. Unlike the Mamluk, the rug is not always focused on one, large and central diamond. The pattern may be free form and repeating. The more modern versions of the Kilim sometimes in cooperate turquoise, and purple with the traditional reds, green, blue and white. The boldness and geometric quality of the patterns have also become more strong and distinct with modern times. Rug collectors often start with Kilims, because they are cheaper than Pile rugs. It is sometimes thought that because Kilims tend to be less expensive that they are also less substantial in quality or status. This is not true, and Kilims have become increasingly popular in recent years. The lower price was originally based on the Kilims being produced for indigenous use, instead of on a commercial level. Kilims gained popularity when collectors started to value authentic village weavings.

Mamluk (Pile)
This is a type of rug based in traditional style, always featuring a large, central diamond. These are similar to the traditional Eastern rugs you might see in your grandmother’s house, especially in the framework. However, the Mamluk’s style is much more geometrically based. These rugs are currently very desirable, as they provide both traditional and modern style.

Oushak (Pile)
Traditionally from Turkey-the Oushak is a style of rug which has found recent popularity due to it’s subdued light or earthy tones. Another distinction comes in their unique style of weave where the sides of the knots are visible, so each rug has a unique feel. Their designs often include either central medallions, representative of designs used on Ottoman Manuscripts, or the “Star Ushak”. The patterns are often a combination of geometric and floral motifs, mixed together. The colors are distinctive and tend to include a variety of orange shades, reds, maroons and blues in the background. The motif colors are usually greens, blues, ivory, black and yellow. The colors often look faded, giving this style of rug has an incredibly rustic, and aged feel.

Patchwork (Pile)
Patchwork rugs have very recently become a popular reuse of rugs which may have been damaged or tattered. These rugs are given a new life by being repurposed as a very rustic looking collection of different patterns (often overdyed) and stitched together. Patchworked rugs will give any room a great splash of color while preserving the legacy and authentic feel of an antique hand made rug. Although these rugs are made from what were originally pile rugs, they often have very little of the pile left which is what gives them an antique look and feel.


Sari Silk
The same silk that goes into a traditional Indian sari has recently been used to effectively take beautiful traditional patterns and bring them to life. Not only do they have the extremely high level of sheen that is found in a silk rug but they also have a vibrant color scheme that will make you forget everything you just learned about rugs!

Traditional Oriental/Persian Rug
These rugs always have a border, and typically are centered on a large, central design, such as a medallion or diamond. They are heavily designed and pattered, and tend to have a somewhat muted color palette compared to the vibrant colors used in modern overdye. These rugs are based in structure and form.

Click here to view our extensive online inventory, or stop in our Boston Showroom or Rug Gallery to view our rugs in person!

Faig Ahmed: Tradition Meets Progress with Azerbaijan Carpets

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Faig Ahmed is an artist based in Baku, Azerbaijan. Using a mixed media approach and knowledge of traditional carpet weaving, he reworks the conventional structure of the rug by disassembling the threads and rearranging them. Ahmed superimposes digital imagery into the rug design which often creates optical illusion. He also uses geometric forms to transform the carpets into chic sculptures. Ahmed is not only creating new boundaries with his modern transformation of traditional art, he is creating a visual marriage of past, present and future, where contrasting aesthetics are crashed together and harmonize boldly, making something new. Many people view Ahmed’s work as a representation of the social and political change occurring throughout the East.

“Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self-regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.” Faig Ahmed.

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About Faig Ahmed
– Ahmed graduated from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004 and works with various media including painting, video and installation.
– Most recently, he has been studying the history and aesthetic of traditional Azerbaijani carpets so he may reinterpret this cultural symbol with contemporary relevance.
– Ahmed superimposes digital patterns onto traditional compositions to create works with bold optical illusions and he applies these forms to sculptures and 2-dimensional works.

– He has been included in exhibitions at Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury in London, the 52nd Venice Biennale Pavilion representing Azerbaijan and The Islamic Art Festival in Sharjah, UAE.

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Sculpture

“His works take what has traditionally been a two-dimensional craft and gives it new life in the third-dimension – stretching elements of his fiber based work into space, and transforming it into far more than a floor covering. Even though they are real, and made with traditional techniques, other examples of his work stretch traditional patterns horizontally, giving his flat pieces the look of digital reworking.” From Faig Ahmed’s Website

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“The eastern culture is so very rich and saccharine. Putting the pieces of the carpet into the smooth as if a part of a car or of a glamorous and functional shape, I’m fashioning the carpet into a different meaning, a secondary one. It as if starts being an inner part of this minimalist form, gaining volume at the same time. As if all of the ornaments of the carpet acquire a prolongation inside the carpet.” Faig Ahmed

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“The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon. In my art I see the culture differently. This is more of expectation of a reaction because it’s exactly the change of the points of view that changes the world.” Faig Ahmed

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History of Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving
Azerbaijan has been well-known as an authority and center for arts and crafts since Ancient times. Archeological digs of this territory have discovered signs of highly developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working and ceramics, as well as carpet-weaving that date as far back as the 2nd millennium BC. Carpet weaving tools from the 4th and 3rd millenniums BC were discovered during the Gultapin excavations. Herodotus, Claudius Elian, Xenophont and other ancient historians all mentioned Azerbaijan carpets having spread by the time of the Bronze Age. During the Sassanid Dynasty (3rd-7th centuries) carpets made from gold, silver and silk threads and decorated with jewels began to appear and were greatly celebrated. In the 13th-14th centuries, Azerbaijan exported huge numbers of carpets to other countries.
Different occasions call for different carpets; Wedding ceremonies, birthing, medical treatment, mourning rituals, and prayer. Girls sit on special carpets to tell fortunes and sing traditional songs during the New Year Celebration. Carpet weaving in Southern and Northern Azerbaijan has been influenced by the many changes the territory has undergone, such as changes in religions, tribal cultures, and political states. The designs used in the carpets and the way they are applied reflect the daily life and customs of the communities who produce them. This is fitting because the carpet weaving originated in rural huts. Over time, the tradition and craft came to be amongst the most celebrated and important of the arts. The heads of state gave high value to the art of carpet weaving, and glorified the most talented weavers, as did the great poets. The carpet history is typically divided into the following four main periods:

• I – the early stage of the carpet development. The carpet ware is very simple, without any motifs and patterns. The first palas and djedjims appear.
• II – introduction of the kilim weaving practice by the intricate threading technique.
• III – weaving of shadda, verni, sumakh, zili. The period of simple and complex whipping techniques.
• IV – introduction of the knotted pile weaving. Both from the technical and artistic standpoints this stage can be considered the acme of the carpet making.

Azerbaijani carpets are divided into two general groups: pile and pileless. Within each group there are subdivisions and different styles of rug. The pileless category is associated with the early period of weaving and there are 8 main types: Palas, Dzhejim, lady, kilim, shedde, verni, zili, sumakh. These rugs are classified based on color, richness, composite structure and weaving style. Quba School, Baku or Absheron School, Shirvan School, Ganja School, Gazakh School, Karabakh School. These are the 7 different weaving schools is Azerbaijan. They are separated based on patterns, composition and technique.

Feng Shui Decorating Steps for Beginners

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Feng Shui translates to “wind and water” which equals health, peace and prosperity in the Chinese philosophy. It is an ancient art form and science which is believed to balance both emotional and physical energy. The goal of Feng Shui within interior design is to balance the positive and negative energies within your space as well as within yourself. This will bring harmony of the senses, tranquility and well-being.

It is a common misconception that Feng Shui decorating means creating a completely “Zen” environment. Decorating with Feng Shui actually means that you are catering your decor to support the best energy for whatever activities are intended to occur in a specific room or area. Following basic Feng Shui principles will help you to achieve a desired energy.

Chi means energy. In order to have good energy or “Seng chi”, the energy needs to flow through the home freely without being blocked. If the energy is stagnant or blocked it is bad, or “Si& Sha Chi”.

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Feng Shui looks at a house as one, complete being. You may have some rooms that have great energy, but other rooms that are out of control, or just confused and stuck. Many people tend to ignore these disaster areas by shutting the door, or they purposefully put things in the messy room when they don’t know what else to do with it, in order to keep the nice rooms clean. These spaces are like when children are told to clean their rooms and instead of actually cleaning they just shove all their belongings under the bed or into a closet. From a Feng Shui perspective, the messy room being ignored is affecting the energy of the entire house, and therefore the energy of the good rooms.

Though the principles of Feng Shui are extensive and complex, there are simple ways beginners can approach living in a more Feng Shui environment. Start by identifying problem areas, and make a plan for your house. Figure out what needs to change, and define the steps necessary for those changes to happen. Then just be persistent.

6 Feng Shui Decorating Steps

Step 1.Clear Clutter

In order to create good chi, you first must get rid of the old energy.If an area of your home has stuck energy, an area of your life will eventually become stuck. Clean out your garage, reorganize your storage areas. You want the goal to always be free-flowing space.

Step 2. Good quality air and light

A clutter free space with tons of natural light and clean air is like the canvas on which you will paint your Feng Shui masterpiece. These basics are necessary and without them, Feng Shui will only go so far.Lighting can also be used to alter the mood of any space. Light is the strongest manifestation of energy and as humans it is our number one nutrient. The harmful effects of fluorescent lighting on human behavior and the deficiency of sunlight or “Malillumination” according to light researcher Dr. John Ott, are widely documented. Lack of quality light can decrease your overall health, ability to learn and effect your behavior. Try to have at least three separate sources of light in every room.

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Step 3. Define your Bagua

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The Bagua is the energy map of your space that determines which areas of your home are connected to specific areas of your life. Bagua translates to “8 areas” because in ancient times people deemed that there are 8 areas of  life that are important for well being and health. Each area of your home is connected to a specific area of your life. Therefore by changing your home you can change your life.

You can use the bagua as a guide to tell you everything from how to arrange furniture to how to choose colors.

There is the Classical or Traditional Feng Shui school Bagua, and there is the BTB Western school Bagua. It is best to not use both in the same home.

Step 4. Choose Colors

Every color fits into one of the 5 Feng Shui elements.

Fire-Passion and High Energy
Colors-Red, Orange, Purple, Pink, Strong Yellow
Fire is the strongest Feng Shui element in South Bagua of your home. It can also be used in Northeast and Southwest Feng Shui areas.

Earth–Nourishment and Stability
Colors- Light Yellow, Beige/taupe, Earthy/sandy colors
This element is needed to promote inner balance and health, as well as protection of relationships.

Water-Ease and Abundance
Colors-Blue, Black
Water is the ancient symbol for abundance and a Fung Shui cure for wealth. This element brings energy of freshness, purity, and calm.
The north, east and south east bagua areas benefit from a strong water element.

Wood-Vitality and Growth
Colors-Brown, Green
This element is healing and promotes vibrancy, strong growth, as well as abundance. Wood is the main element ion south and southeast Bagua areas.

Metal-Preciseness and Clarity
Colors Gray, White
Metal is the dominant Feng Shui element of west and northwest bagua areas, and the north bagua also benefits. This presence promotes calm, precise, light and focused energy.

Step 5. Choose items

Define specific items that will add to the  Chi of your home. Feng Shui holds to the belief that energy is improved when living things are present. An easy way to achieve this is by incorporating plants, bonsai trees, flowers, fish and of course pets. A fountain is a great way to add water, a symbol of abundance. Selecting natural materials such as wood, stone and metals is another way to stick to the organic nature of Feng Shui.

Some examples of classic Feng Shui items are:
Fountains, Mirrors, Lucky Bamboo as a health cure, Images or statues of Buddha for harmony and spiritual growth.

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Step 6.Positioning

Understand how and where to position your decorating items and furniture to create the best energy for the space. Focus on the big picture, but also be able to zoom in on each specific area.Match elements to your map, or Bagua. If you want to put a fountain in your home, which is a water element, you need to put it in the Bagua areas that benefit from water, such as North, East and Southeast areas of your home.

Fun Fact: Elephants are part of Feng Shui!

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The elephant is associated with Buddha and Ganesh, who is an Indian deity. The elephant symbolizes Power, wisdom, strength, protection of the home, fertility and good luck and because of this elephants are often used in Feng Shui. Here are some of the areas an elephant symbol can be useful in.

Protection– To prevent the loss of Chi from the home, place an elephant facing outward.

Bringing Good luck– Place an elephant facing inwards, to draw good luck and blessings into the home.

Love and Fidelity– Place a pair of elephants in the bedroom to promote love within a relationship.

Fertility-Place an elephant beside the bed, or one elephant on each side of the bed.

Mother and Child-Place a statue of a mother and baby elephant in your living area or children’s room to strengthen the bond with your children.

Work- Place an elephant near the front door to attract power and protect the office from bad energy.

Management– Place an elephant on your work desk facing out. This represents caution, poise and strong leadership.

Good thing we have so many elephants around here!

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Top Summer Design Trends & Styles

Lets discuss some of the hottest trends for Summer 2014. These styles have exploded across the design world and are all likely to stick around for a while. The best part about these looks is that while they are super modern, they are also rooted in classic style and can be worked into the most simple décor, as well as an avant-garde abode.

Honey Toned Wood

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This mega trend is a refreshing switch from the darker, espresso hued woods that have reined for several seasons. Paired with white and neutral finishes, honey toned wood can really lighten things up and make a small space seem larger. The honey toned wood trend is also reflective of some of the major design themes of the moment such as “back to nature” and “rustic simplicity”.

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“I am excited about the come back of honey wood tones because I think they are easy to maintain and incorporate well into any interior. A medium tone wood is always in style, and mixes easily with other woods.”  – DeidreInteriors.com

At Mohr & McPherson 

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Ryder Bedside Chest,  Avery Mini Honey,  Honey/Alberta Taylor Chair

 

Exposed Nail Heads

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This is a versatile and widespread trend that actually dates back to 17th century France and 19th Century England. During these times, furniture was often embellished with nail head or rivet trim as a decorative way to secure materials. Today, this trend can be used to enhance traditional style or to bring a piece in the total opposite direction by making it urban and edgy, depending on the application.

Here are some ideas for getting this trend right.

Pay Attention to Detail:

*The spacing between nail heads in relation to the size of the furniture is important.

*If it fits your budget, always choose metal individual nail heads rather than plastic.

*For a rustic look, nail head trim looks great with textured materials.

At Mohr & McPherson 

 

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Gallant Loveseat (Cisco Brothers),  Rustic Whiskey Tub Chair
Crescent loveseat (Cisco Brothers),  Smoke Armchair

 

Nature/Mixing of Indoor and Outdoor/Layering of Textures

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 This concept never goes out of style, but it has become increasingly popular in the last few years, probably because of the global focus on being healthier and more economically responsible. A simple way to incorporate this trend into your design scheme is to focus on tones, textures and colors. Go for wood surfaces and use natural materials such as exposed brick, stone, bamboo, etc. Live Edge furniture and upholstery that mimics natural surfaces such as moss make great statement pieces. Natural light is also a sneaky way to open up a space and bring the outdoors inside.

At Mohr & McPherson  

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banyonLive Edge ConsoleBanyan Vine Sculpture, Mangosteen Coat Rack,  Tribeca Loveseat (Cisco Brothers)

  Continue reading

Backyard Nirvana: Personalizing Your Outdoor Space

So, its officially time to be outside. What are you going to be doing while you’re out there? Gardening? Yoga? Hanging out with your dog? Hosting the most beautiful, ridiculous garden party of all time with perfect, vegan hors d’oeuvres, hanging lanterns and a live string quartet? How about lounging? I think it’s safe to say that everyones outdoor summer priority is relaxing in the sun, or the shade with a cold drink, a good book or just the pleasent buzzing of your own thoughts.

Where are all of these activities going to take place? Designing a personalized, outdoor haven is a really fun way to be creative while getting that Vitamin D. Whether you have a patio or front porch that just needs some sprucing up or you are looking to renovate your entire backyard, we have ideas for you. We’ve collected some inspiring outdoor displays and come up with our favorite pieces at Mohr & McPherson to fit each look.

Inspiration

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 It’s hard to go wrong with Mid Century Modern. When you blend these classic silhouettes with unexpected materials such as our patio chair below, the look becomes modern and edgy, while still rooted in classic appeal.

Our Version

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Iron Round Coffee Table, Patio Chair,Stone GaneshIron Tray Table


Inspiration

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This look conjurs thoughts of exotic birds, and you can almost hear them singing as you sip iced green tea. Teak wood is an excellent material for outdoor furniture because it has a high resistance to the elements but also has a sleek appearance. Add bursts of color and delicate, decorative detail to lighten up an arrangement of dark furniture.

Our Version 

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Teak Bench made from Camel CartMetal Basket LampIron and Teak Bench, Iron Chair, Lotus Plate, Folding Screen


Inspiration

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Everything Zen around here. This look promotes total tranquility, and a blissful escape from daily life. Key elements to include are Buddhas, lots of greenery, honey toned wood and twinkling lights.


Our Version

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Inspiration

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This look is based in simplicity. To add exotic or modern elements to a cottage vibe, look for geometric shapes in light colors like this amazing coffee table below. Blend statement pieces with rustic materials such as wicker and unfinished wood.

Our Version

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Dining ChairCoffee TableSteel & Glass Lantern, Antique Elm Door, Rattan 2 Seat Chair

Inspiration 

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If you get excited about lots of candles, lace, and delicate, shabby chic furniture, this romantic setting is for you. You can make this style Mohr & McPherson by adding eastern pieces, which can actually enhance the ethereal nature of this scene. Think delicate iron and whimsical shapes.

Our Version

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Dining Chair, Candle Stand, Iron DaybedIndian CarvingBanyan Vine Sculpture

Beni Ourain Rugs: Tribal Tradition, Mid Century Modern

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These incredibly soft and luxurious rugs are all the rage right now in modern design. In fact, they are in higher demand than ever due to a variety of different cultural factors. Beni Ourains are admired and sought after by designers and the masses alike. So what’s all the fuss about? What is a Beni Ourain rug, and what makes it so special?

Origins
The Beni Ourain are a group of Berber people from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco that is actually made up of 17 different tribes. They are traditionally shepherds and goat herders who move their herds from one grazing land to the next, high within the mountains. Although these tribes all produce rugs which are similar and known as Beni Ourains, there are subtle differences in design elements and colors – all natural dyes or no dye at all. A big factor when it comes to the quality of these rugs is the superior wool produced by the sheep in this region.

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The Beni Ourain rugs are hand-woven by women and the skill and knowledge is passed from mother to daughter. The design elements used in the rugs are reflective of the weavers real life. Traditionally, the rugs record regular life events and represent major themes such as birth, fertility, nature, femininity, rural life and religious beliefs. Some people who weave the rugs believe the rugs themselves are barriers against evil spirits so they purposefully include lucky charm symbolism and tribal ceremonial symbolism. The detail and design of the rug is also used to tell the story of tribal ancestors or the life of the weaver combined with tribe superstitions which are a strong aspect of culture in these rural regions.

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6.9″ x 9.7″ Moroccan style


Patterns
Patterns usually consist of brown and black lines or abstract shapes against a white or cream background. Other designs are the Ancient Berber alphabet, geometric designs similar to Navajo-Native American patterns. Most do not have a border. Some have fringe and others not, some have fringe on one side only. The rugs tend to last a lifetime or more.

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Production
Though they are typically used as and known to be rugs, Beni Ourains were traditionally produced to be blankets or bedspreads and not floor coverings. Their loose structure is meant to conform to the body. They have thick, soft pile which is deep or shallow according to the purpose. Knots are tied in a very specific way. The rugs are woven without any pattern or diagram to follow, which is why they are all unique.

The originals were not mass-produced and no two are alike. Many of the new Beni Ourain rugs are not made in Morocco but they are referred to as “Moroccan style” rugs because they were created to mimic the original Beni Ourains. The older carpets however are softer and more detailed and varied in design. The “real” beni ourains were never made larger than 7 feet. A Beni Ourain larger than 7′ is most likely a reproduction, not made in Morocco and not old.

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Rise to fame
The Beni Ourain rugs were used by the most renowned mid-century modern designers such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ame Jacobsen, Alvar Allto, Marcel Breuer, Charles and Ray Eames. Shag carpets were extremely popular during this time, and the Beni Ourains were a step up from the average shag because of their sophisticated nature. History and cultural developments have made Beni Ourains so popular.

“It is a fascinating set of historical and cultural developments that have made Moroccan rugs as popular as they are today. The Beni Ourain – with a penchant for abstract symbolism and geometry as well as a steady supply of fine grade wool – happened to be weaving rugs and carpets that would be perfectly suited to the design aesthetics of the Western World in the decades following the end of the Second World War. Moroccan rugs by the Beni Ourain remain among the most desirable pieces today, and are sought after the world over, both by experts in antique Oriental rugs and everyday people who appreciate the lasting artistic value of such rugs.” Ubrandsbag

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A photo of an authentic Beni Ourain in the home of Frank Lloyd Wright

Turquoise & Yellow: Trending Spring Colors

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Patchwork Overdye Turquoise                                       Patchwork Overdye Yellow

Spring is here, and not a moment too soon! So while packing away your wool blankets, make sure to replace them with lots of bright, cheerful colors. This season is all about Turquoise and Yellow, our favorite trending spring colors. These two colors are super on trend for spring and have been popping up in a range of hues all over the runways, magazines and design blogs. It just so happens that these are some of our favorite colors and we are so prepared for this trend. Check out some of our best examples below, and don’t forget to stop by our Pinterest too for even more favorites and trends!

Turquoise / Aquamarine / Sea Green / Teal
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Clockwise from left: Teak Bookcase  /  Teak Desk  /  Sideboard

 

Yellow / Lemon / Butter / Gold
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Songkran: Family, Renewal and Water Fights for the Thai New Year

tumblr_n3zfa0nWpP1sxb3k2o1_1280-2Sawadee Pee Mai! – That’s Thai for Happy New Year! In Thailand, the beginning of the New Year is celebrated in April, the hottest month of the year. The New Years celebration is called “Songkran festival”. The word Songkran means “to pass” or “to move into”. It is derived from the Sanskrit language and in the context of Thai New Year it refers to the passing and moving of the sun, moon, and other planets. The celebration typically lasts for three days, and consists most famously of people partying in the streets and throwing water at each other. Sounds like fun! This year, Songkran was celebrated From April 13 through 15.

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Renewal

The festival taking place in the spring is significant as it represents the renewal of the earth after winter, as well as the beginning of the new year. To go along with this theme, people in Thailand clean their homes from top to bottom for the beginning of Sonkran.

Water

Water is representative of cleansing and purifying the self for the new year. Water is the trademark of the Sonkran celebrations, as it is known as “The Water Festival”. Basically, people walk around with water guns and buckets of water, splashing and soaking everyone around.

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While the water symbolizes a cleansing & rejuvenation for the new year, it is certainly nice to cool off! 

Buddha

Buddhists visit temples and water is poured onto images and statues of Buddha, and over the hands of monks to show respect.

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Family and Community 

Many Thai people travel to spend time with family during Songkran. The festivities of Songkran bring together all the different members of the family and society, and unite their relationships with each other, as well as with nature.

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 Even the Elephants get in on the fun!  

Events and Traditions

The first day of the festival is called “Songkran Day”. All over the country there are parades and processions featuring images of Buddha. The water throwing also begins on this day.

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 The Songkran Queen

The second day of Songkran is called “Wan Nao”. This is the celebration of the old Thai New Years Eve. It takes place on the day when the sun travels between Pisces and Aires. Many Buddhists go to their homes this day to build Sand Chedis, which is a sand castle that looks like a Buddhist Temple.

The third day of Songkran is New Years Day. Offerings are left at temples this day, amongst other festivities.

Visiting

Many tourists plan their trips to Thailand around Songkran, as visitors are welcome to join in the festivities. In fact, if you are walking around during this time, it will be difficult to avoid getting soaked.

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In some cities, this centuries-old tradition includes a good smearing on passersby of colored talc as a symbol of good luck.

Architectural Wonders of India

We just received a large shipment of new treasures from India, adding to our beloved collection. We cannot get enough of Indian culture, aesthetic and history. Have a look below at some of our new (and old favorite) merchandise, and a couple of the architectural wonders they remind us of.

The Mandore Gardens-Mandore India

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The Mandore Gardens contain a temple dedicated to 330 million Gods. The gardens themselves certainly do not fall short of equaling the temple’s magnitude. Other temples, chhatris and high rock terraces border large lawns and topiaries. There is also a governement museum, which is filled with artifacts from the bygone era, and also contains the previously mentioned temple dedicated to various Hindu Gods who are worshipped all over India. The Gardens are in the small town of Mandore, which is located about 6 miles from Jodpur. Mandur was the original capital of the Rajputana kingdom before Marwar. The town is known for the famous gardens, which were built around the red sandstone cenotaphs or Chhatris, made for the Rathore rulers. The Mandore fort is is also there, but has not been maintained well like the gardens have. Tourists mainly visit Mandore to see these two attractions.

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These rustic shelves are reminiscent of the Mandore Garden temples with thier muted hues and detailed arches. The figurines and ornate carvings seem like they were taken directly ot of a Mandore Temple. They are whimisicle in nature, and yet the faded colors and soft edges give a down to earth, organic quality.

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Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir,”The Red Temple”- New Delhi, India

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Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is the oldest and most well known Jain temple in New Delhi, built in 1656. It is red sandstone, and is known as the “Red Temple”. It is also known for a veterinary hospital in a second building behind the main temple, called the Jain Birds Hospital. The temple is located within the historical district of the city, on the main street Chandni Chowk. This area, referred to as “old city”, was founded by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658). Chandni Chowk Street was built in front of “The Red Fort”, which was the imperial residence. The Red Fort is directly across from the Red Temple. During this time, several financers were invited to come and settle in New Delhi and given land. They were of the Jain religion and permitted by the emperor to build a temporary structure for a Jain temple. During this period (Mughal period) it was illegal to build a sikhara (Sanskrit word’s literal translation of “mountain peak” refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture) for a temple. A sikhara was not built until after India’s independence, when the red temple was added to and rebuilt extensively.

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At the front of the red temple is a manastambha or “column of honor”. This is a traditional feature of Jain temples, and its size is intended to remove the pride of a person entering the temple. There is a small courtyard, surrounded by a colonnade. Across from the courtyard is a terrace, leading to the first floor of the temple, and the central area of prayer and devotion.

Within this area are many shrines, the most important being of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthanara of Jainism. He was born in 599 BC as a prince, but renounced all worldly possessions and went in search of Moksha or salvation. He reached “enlightenment”, and spent the rest of his life preaching. Other important shrines are of Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankara, and Lord Parasnath who was the predecessor of Mahavira. The people come to the red temple and leave offerings of fruit, grains and candles. The red temple is said to be popular due to its soothing ambience and for the shining of the gilded paint under the candles and lamps.

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I am obsessed with the folding screens pictured above. They can be added to  room not only to add a burst of rich color and as a statement piece, but they are also so functional. A screen can be used to create a barrier where there is none, a divider between different areas in an open space, or my favorite, to conceal a mess. A unique & massive iron toran with individual tea light holders is pictured below.

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We will be back soon to discuss more of the new additions to our extensive Indian Collection and other beautiful places for you to read about.

Handcarved Soapstone Supports AIDS Orphans

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Above: Mohr & McPherson’s store manager Karole Moe with students at the Okari School in Kinsii, Kenya.

Margaret Okari started taking in orphaned children when the AIDS pandemic hit Africa. She knew these children would thrive with education and the right advocates, so she searched for sponsors and boarding schools that would take the orphans in. As the number of orphans increased, so did Margaret’s dedication and ideas. Unfortunately Margaret died of hepatitis, but her sister Kwamboka continued to work towards their shared vision.

During the AIDS pandemic, Kwamboka Okari lived in America, importing soapstone from Kenya and selling it in upscale boutiques. Many of the soapstone carvers began to die, leaving orphans behind. Because of her work, Kwamboka was acquainted with the workers families and she used her network in America to help Margaret support and advocate for the children.

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Soapstone carvers at work on The Okari School campus. This tiny chair was carved for Karole to resemble the life-size one at the work site.

After seeing the success of the children who the Okari sisters had helped, the town of Kisii Kenya donated 5 acres of land to build a school, primarily for children who lost their parents to AIDS. They built classrooms, two dorms, and a dining hall. Today, the Margaret Okari Children’s School provides 200 orphans with a home and an education. Although there are many programs dedicated to helping orphans in Africa, the Okari School stands out because of its effort in providing a sustainable future to the children. They do this through a focus on education, health & human services, leadership and sustainability.

Our store manager, Karole Moe, spent time in Kenya, working as a teacher at the Okari School. The  school supports the local carvers by exporting their work and using the profit to support the school. We are lucky enough to sell a number of soapstone carvings at Mohr & McPherson.

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People have been working with soapstone for three millennia. It is a pliable stone used for carving and decorations. This art started in Asia – mainly China – and spread through the rest of the world from there. In ancient Greece, the Cretans used soapstone to make stamps and receptacles. The vikings used soapstone carvings in their jewelry. In Africa, Zimbabwe is known for producing many large soapstone sculptures. The height of Zimbabwe’s soapstone production was between the 11th and 16th centuries. Europeans began using soapstone in the 17th century, and the material became most popular during the Art Deco period between the 1920’s and 1940’s.

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Soapstone figurines,dishes, trays and display pieces available at Mohr & Mcpherson. 100% of profits go to supporting The Okari School.