Fashion & Design: Desert Designs

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Fashion & Design: Lucia Esteves is inspired by her grandmothers’ textiles – Desert Designs.

For her upcoming exhibition in La Forêt, Lucia Esteves decided to present a part of the collection of Arnaud Maurières. This plant grower and landscape artist is known internationally for his design collection and is especially passionate about unique textile creations of women from the East Moroccan desert: Beautiful colourful carpets.

Lucia Esteves says: “Arnaud takes these women out of the shadows, which touches me particularly, especially since my grandmothers were also active in the textile industry. Their tradition is passed on from woman to woman and is like a common thread that connects past, present and future generations.

“Moreover, the carpets are exceptionally modern, even though they also return to the source, to the symbolic and ancestral values that these women want to express. A universal language that appeals to everyone, across all times and physical boundaries.”

For more than a century, most collections of Moroccan tribal fabrics have been collected by merchants, who purchase them from buyers who cross villages where they negotiate with the men of the weavers. So, the women themselves have absolutely no contact with the people who buy their creations.

Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart have been collecting art and design since the 1990s. It was pure coincidence that they discovered the exceptional carpets of the Aït Khebbach, during a journey through the eastern desert of Morocco in December 2010. With the help of their friend Lahcen Aït Khouya and his family they crossed the desert to meet the weavers.

Conversations with the women show that this is a recent phenomenon: they have only been weaving these rugs since the 1980s, due to a prolonged drought that forced the nomads to adopt a more sedentary way of life. Now that they no longer weave or repair tents, the women started making sleeping mats for the whole family. They come up with designs and combine the most unique colours and fabrics. The women of the Aït Khebbach are getting more and more involved and push their creativity.

17 October until 7 November 2019. La Forêt by Lucia, Uccle.