by Ryan Reitmeyer on February 20, 2011
|North African vernacular architecture was a tremendous source of inspiration for modernist architects at the beginning of the 20th century. Many design historians credit the white stucco dwellings of Mediteranian and North African villages as the source for the classic Corbusian white box aesthetic, which encapsulated the modernist movement. Le Corbusier worked extensively in Algeria and Morocco throughout the early 20th century, changing the landscape with his “modern” style of architecture all the while being inspired by the local material culture. |
Le Courbusier model of Algeria, date unknown
The freeform designs of Moroccan rugs synthesize beautifully with modern architecture. Wild colors combined with the abstract asymmetrical patterns found in these rugs are the perfect foil to a clean unadorned interior. These rugs are striking and highly expressive, no two are ever really alike.
The Moroccan rugs from the upper Atlas Mountains are made without the use of dye stuffs, which were not readily available at such altitudes. Demonstrating a tremendous degree of resourcefulness, the nomads that wove these rugs chose to render their designs using dark wool contrasting with the light ivory-colored background. This honest, unadorned use of materials was a concept championed by modernists.
The most stylish use of a Moroccan rug was in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, starring Kerry Grant. In the climactic scene at the end of the movie a Moroccan rug graces the floor of the villian's lair. Midcentury architecture and interiors with nomadic weaving -- this is where it all comes together.