In this episode of Radio Ock Pop Tok, Nina Mohammad-Galbert, founder and creative director of Artisan Project, discusses the legacy of the Moroccan carpet and the ins and outs of ethical design, sourcing and buying.
Ten years ago, Nina, a Palestinian-American living in Los Angeles, packed up her two young daughters, moved to Morocco and embarked on a journey to work collaboratively with artisans. Through Artisan Project, a textile and design studio, Nina works closely with weavers in Fes and the Middle Atlas to design textiles that merge traditional and contemporary motifs and colour palettes. Nina also works with boutique fashion houses and small companies around the world to source carpets and textiles in the Atlas Mountains.
Nina tells us the Moroccan carpet has grown exponentially, but the weavers who make them are not faring so well. Unfair wholesale practices are at the root of this issue. A system of production where the makers are undervalued and not properly compensated could very well lead to the disappearance of the Moroccan carpet.
Nina and Artisan Project are currently working on a grant to encourage more young women in Anh Leuah to weave. Nina emphasises that it’s not simply getting more women to the loom. It’s about valuing the work and the textiles properly and fairly throughout the supply chain. And, for consumers, it’s about asking the right, and often the hard questions. “Is this price fair to the weaver?”
The marketplace often distorts the value of textiles, but in Berber culture, sheep wool and weaving are seen as “baraka” or blessing. In this segment, Nina explains the emotional and spiritual value, the Baraka, that is part of every Moroccan carpet.
Two years ago, Nina moved her home-studio in Tangier, where she welcomes visitors and designers. Situated in a cool 1940s Art Deco building with a view of the Straits of Gibraltar, her space is filled with a treasure trove of Moroccan textiles, including the most mesmerising collection of Boucherouite, Azilal and Beni Ourain carpets, Berber blankets, and all sorts of fabulous art and books she’s collected over the years.
If you are in Tangier and interested in picking up a few textiles for your collection or enlisting Nina to help you go sourcing, set an appointment and go visit!
When we walked into the cooperative in D’Anh Luah … it seemed like a place that time had forgotten.
Most of the time, however, Nina is on the road, visiting weavers, carpet-hunting and drinking tea with sellers deep in the Atlas Mountains. Nina is determined to use Artisan Project and her work as a platform to educate designers and consumers about how the system works and how they can participate fairly. More importantly, she’s committed to giving the Amazigh, or Berber, communities a voice.
Have a listen, and let us know what you think! — Rachna Sachasinh
To learn more about Artisan Project, visit: www.artisanprojectinc.com
Follow Artisan Project & Nina’s adventures on IG: @artisanproject
Share your thoughts: [email protected]