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Hints to buy the right Moroccan Beni Ouarain rug from Samir El Wali, founder of Socco Designs

Since everyone wants a Moroccan rug in their home these days, here are a few of our favorites from nuLOOM and Safavieh. Read the interview below with Samir El Wali to learn more about Moroccan rug tradition and how she founded Socco Designs.

About Samir El Wali

What is your background?

Samir: “I was born and grew up in Rabat, Morocco until I was 17. After graduating high school, I moved to Montreal for university studies and did my major in finance. I knew then that I didn’t want to follow the standard route after obtaining my degree. Getting a 9 to 5 job in an investment bank was not part of my plan anymore.

What I really wanted was to have a job that had a wider meaning; and in the back of my head I knew it needed to have a connection with Morocco. It was an asset that I needed to capitalize on.”

Journey in Starting Socco Designs

Why did you start Socco Designs? 

Samir:  “I started SOCCO Designs because I have a strong attachment to my home country, Morocco. It is where all of my family lives and I usually go back to Morocco twice a year to see them and recharge my batteries.

I noticed that in Vancouver the Moroccan community is very small compared to the one in Montreal. A lot of Vancouverites don’t know a lot about my Morocco and its not unusual that people here ask me in which part of the world it is located. My mission by starting SOCCO Designs was to promote the Moroccan culture and its diversity through its unique craftsmanship.

What did you learn from launching Socco Designs?

Launching SOCCO Desgins allowed me to explore Morocco like I never did before. I went to artisanal cities like Fez, Meknes and the Atlas region to meet with artisans and women cooperatives in order to create a relationship with my new partners in this entrepreneurial journey. They were honestly some of the most inspiring and talented people I ever met.”


Why Morocco? Will you expand your line to other styles? 

Samir:  “Morocco, because as I said, I am a proud Moroccan and I think it has an incredible history. It is a vibrant country full of life, colors, beautiful landscapes and it just has an energy to it that I want to share. I love the fact that each product that I have on my website has had its own journey. It takes time to make a quality product, and Moroccan artisans can work for several days, sometimes weeks to finish a single item.

I think that in the time we live in, it is very important to recognize and encourage those practices. In a world where everything is industrialized and most items we buy have built-in planned obsolescence, it is important to create timeless pieces with a real history behind.

I am actually going back to Morocco this August to work on my next fall/winter collection.”


What has been on surprising thing you have learned that has helped you to build Socco Designs? 

Samir: “Every day I learn something new, I never stop being impressed by the work of Moroccan artisans. They always manage to create something beautiful out of nothing, and they give life to some of the craziest requests from my customers.

There is truly nothing that I would do differently, because everything I experienced led me to where I am today. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support I received from all of my clients and from the people I work with.”How to buy a good quality rug?

What are some things to consider when shopping for a rug?

Samir:  “When you shop for a rug it is important to know where it was made and verify it’s authenticity. Beni Ourain rugs are very demanded, and thus there are a lot of copies, so you have to be careful when you shop for one. The irregular knotting is a sign of the genuine Beni Ouarain rug. Fake Beni Ouarain rugs are usually lighter in weight because of the poor wool quality!

It is also important to look at the material they are made of. It should be 100% natural wool with no polyester fiber or other man-made fabrics.”

What is the best rug for a kid friendly living space that wants to be chic as well?

Samir: “It would be the Beni Ouarain rug. Their minimalist design will enhance any living space style and add an elegant touch to any home.

It isn’t made with any harmful fabric or washed with chemicals. If it is genuine rug, there won’t be a lot of shredding. It’s also super soft and fluffy. With the kids falling when playing, it cushions the falls pretty well ;)”


Favorite product for every home? 

Samir:  “It is definitely the Beni Ouarain rug or the Moroccan leather pouf. It is my absolute favorite and it is the product I would always recommend without hesitation. It is an extremely versatile piece: you can find it in a nursery as a foot rest for new moms or around a table full of friends and family on the patio. There is one for every taste as you can choose from many colors.

I think Moroccan poufs are perfect when you want to contrast a very modern living room with an artisanal piece.”

To find that Moroccan look for your space, nuLOOM and Safavieh are two great brands for good quality Moroccan rugs.