Craftsmanship meets minimalism: Le Corbusier's fondness for Berber carpets

The long journey of the Berber carpet

For decades, connoisseurs have valued the classic Berber carpet covered with a black and white checked pattern, which is enjoying increasing popularity today: the Beni Ourain carpet. But how did it come about that this traditional North African carpet conquered our hearts in no time at all? This is thanks to various artists, designers and architects of the 20th century who integrated the Berber carpet into their works and works. But one person in particular was responsible for the trend and thus for the spread of the Beni Ourain in European residential buildings, the Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier (1).

The iconic buildings of Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, also known as "Le Corbusier", was one of the most influential and well-known modernist architects. His buildings are known worldwide, some of them even belong to the UNESCO World Heritage. However, the most famous buildings can be found in his native country. The Maison Blanche in his hometown of La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Le Corbusier Pavilion on Lake Zurich. Both are now run as public museums and are undoubtedly worth a visit!

Le Pavilion Le Corbusier in Zurich, Switzerland

Of concrete, geometric shapes and architectural colors

Le Corbusier's works were unique, functional, and most importantly, Brutalist. His architectural style was characterized by clear and simple geometric shapes, cast from his favorite building material, exposed concrete. Le Corbusier deliberately staged concrete as a design element in order to emphasize the authenticity of the material and construction.

Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, France

Unité d'Habitation (Marseille, France)

In addition to the shape, the architect attached great importance to the color scheme of his buildings. Here he oriented himself primarily to nature: blue creates space, red solidifies in the surface, gray brings calm and white makes visible. Throughout his life, Le Corbusier dealt intensively with colors, their spatial properties and abilities. His comprehensive understanding of color flowed into the development of the colors of the Architectural Polychromy . Le Corbusier not only established a new architectural style, but also designed a color palette that architects and designers use today as an important working tool (2).

“In architecture, color is just as powerful a tool as the floor plan and section.” (Le Corbusier)

Hand-knotted Mrirt Quimar carpet in white and blue tones

Hand -knotted Mrirt carpet QUIMAR made of sheep's wool

Design classics by Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier not only created impressive works of architecture, he also produced a wide range of works of art. In addition to paintings, drawings and sculptures, he designed a number of timeless pieces of furniture in the Le Corbusier studio together with his wife Charlotte Perriand and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, such as tables, cupboards and above all the famous Le Corbusier classics, the cube-shaped leather armchair LC2 (1928) and the Chaise longue LC4 (1929). Then as now, her furniture designs are associated with simple elegance, minimalism, functionality and a confident sense of style. A common thread that runs through Le Corbusier's life's work. The rustic Beni Ourain rug is an excellent complement where folklore meets industry.

Le Corbusier furniture (LC3 and chaise longue) in combination with a Berber carpet

Le Corbusier and the Beni Ourain carpet

Anyone familiar with Le Corbusier's taste and concept of aesthetics will be able to relate to his fondness for Berber rugs. Clear geometric rhombuses on a light background, a carpet to suit his taste. Le Corbusier's favorite carpet was clearly the Beni Ourain. The Berber carpet was an integral part of his iconic buildings and the simple geometric pattern gave the rooms their look. According to his furnishing philosophy, three worlds should always be represented: culture, folklore and industry. The Beni Ourain clearly represented the cultural heritage of North Africa and was an integral part of Le Corbusier's furnishing style.

The high-pile Beni Ourain rug owes its fame to Le Corbusier's penchant for functionality, straightforwardness, clarity and minimalism, and perhaps also to a coincidence that led the architect to discover the Berber rug in Morocco at the time.

"Faire comme les Berbères: Allier à la géométrie la plus notoire fantasy." (Le Corbusier, Almanac de l'Architecture Moderne)

Hand-knotted Beni Ourain carpet ANAS in offwhite and black diamonds

Hand-knotted Beni Ourain carpet ANAS

Are you interested in a Beni Ourain but not sure if you should go for one? Here you can read why buying a Beni Ourain is worthwhile.

To the Beni Ourain carpets


(1) Rüegg, Arthur: The Pavillon de l'Esprit Nouveau as Musée Imaginaire, in: von Moos, Stanislaus (ed.): L'Esprit Nouveau. Le Corbusier and Industry 1920-1925, Zurich Catalog 1987, 134-152, 141, 150-151.
(2) Rüegg, Arthur (ed.): Polychromie architecturale Le Corbusier. Birkhauser Verlag, 2006.

(3) Le Corbusier: L'Almanach de l'Architecture Moderne, Paris 1926, 170-171.