Planet Berlin

Planet Berlin: Berberlin — handmade rugs from Tunisia

From North Africa to Bergmannkiez: Walid Kacem and his wife Julia sell traditional rugs handwoven by Tunisian families and a collective of Berber women in Morocco.

Normally, says Walid Kacem, the shop has a play area for children complete with tipi and a table to draw on. Unfortunately it had to be temporarily displaced to make room for a new shipment. Children are very important to Walid Kacem and his wife Julia Schauenburg-Kacem, and the pair now have three little ones of their own. It was the desire to bring family and career together that led them to open their business in colourful Bergmannkiez. Here, the couple sell traditional hand-crafted rugs from Walid Kacem’s home country of Tunisia, as well as Morocco.

“It was hard in the beginning,” says Walid Kacem, who started out as an engineer. The search for suppliers turned out to be more challenging than he expected. “We wanted to go right to the source – to the people who make the carpets, without any middlemen.”

Two families in Tunisia now weave colourful kilim carpets for the Kacems. And in Morocco, the pair founded a women’s initiative that provides steady income for the 12 Berber women working there. The Moroccan rugs joined the range due to customer demand – the same goes for the hand-knotted Beni Ourain rugs made of sheep’s wool.

Their geometric patterns have a surprisingly modern look. Surprising, that is, because these patterns are often hundreds of years old, passed down from family to family among the semi-nomadic Berber nations. The minimalistic black and white designs make these carpets very popular among architects, say the pair.

Walid Kacem loves talking to his customers: “We also deliver our carpets personally, and it’s interesting to see how people decorate their homes.” He and his wife ship their rugs everywhere, and their English-language website offers a large selection of products.

Walid Kacem is very happy with his life in Berlin. He first came to the city as tourist, visiting one of his brothers who lived here at the time. “I immediately loved the vibe of city and how accepting people are. I felt welcome right from the start.”

All photos by Lena Ganssmann

Read more from our Planet Berlin series: Harb — the original Lebanese delicatessen


Berberlin

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