For nearly two decades, Katen Bush and Latif Bezzir have been collecting vintage Berber rugs from the mountains of Morocco. The couple began amassing their collection while living in Algeria, and after relocating to Portland, decided to open a gallery to showcase and share the colorful, artful textiles. Today, Kat + Maouche is a Northwest source for authentic Moroccan rugs, but for Bush and Bezzir, the gallery is as much about the human stories behind this time-honored craft. Here, Bush shares their story.
Why did you open Kat + Maouche? We started collecting Berber textiles 20 years ago, and when we moved to Portland, we realized a gallery would let us keep a foot in both worlds. We had by then spent a lot of time in Morocco and saw an opportunity to showcase Berber rugs as a way to share such a rich culture to the Northwest.
How do you source your rugs? This is the heart of what we do. Berber is primarily a rural, female art, and we work hard to find rugs in the mountain regions where they are made. We focus on provenance and the cultural information the rugs carry. Latif travels widely through Morocco looking for rugs that show the depth and wonderful creativity of Berber culture.
What’s your best tip on how to incorporate Moroccan rugs into a space? Just go for it. Each piece is unique. The dimensions are often odd. The colors can be wild. People want rules, but we don’t have any. Of course, they have to fit in your space, so there is a practical side, but we are here for the art of it. That gives you permission to break the rules.