Beldi loosely translates to “country” in Moroccan Arabic, meaning the traditional, the authentic and the folk – basically the heart and soul of Morocco. An old, classic Moroccan song on the radio, the finest cup of mint tea, butter freshly made in the mountains that day – all can be summed up with a smile and sigh and a single word, “Beldi.”
Understanding the notion of Beldi is key to knowing Morocco. There, the words “Beldi” or “Romi” are used to describe almost everything. Beldi is classic. It is also pride – pride in their country, their culture, their traditions. Romi is more the new style. It’s when foreign details mix with Moroccan elements of design and culture. In every home, in everyone’s life in Morocco, the Beldi co-exists with the Romi.
BELDI (www.shopbeldi.com) specializes in handcrafted items from Morocco and only features “Beldi” products. Unlike other home décor stores that emphasize the 1001 Arabian Nights fantasy and bling of the souks, BELDI focuses on the artistry of the everyday and products with history, bringing these lesser-known Moroccan items to the greater world-at-large. On the site, you'll find items such as boucherouite rugs, hand-carved lemon wood utensils, and glassware from one of the last remaining Marrakchi workshops to use recycled glass.
The couple behind BELDI, Chafiq Ennaoui and Aimee Bianca, met in the infamous Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech.
Aimee, born and raised in New York, experiences a type of Stendhal Syndrome every time she visits Morocco, completely overcome by the gorgeous sights everywhere she looks. Her husband Chafiq never quite understood her oohs and ahs, since he grew up seeing this beauty, exquisite detail, and master craftsmanship. To him, it was just a normal part of his every day life.
After moving to the States, he started to see his home through Aimee’s eyes. Chafiq realized that there is really something special and swoon-worthy to the arts and crafts in Morocco. Even the simple, everyday Moroccan home products show the care, the master skills, the traditions, and the hand-made love.
The idea of opening a shop came to them on a recent trip back to Marrakech in January 2011. They noticed more and more of what’s being sold in the souks, while certainly pretty, is geared to a tourist clientele and not what Moroccans buy or use in their own homes, nor have the deep history of the “Beldi” crafts. At the same time, big box retailers and shopping malls are popping up all over Morocco with an influx of cheap, plastic goods that are replacing these lovely, traditional items.
Their goal is to preserve the gorgeous designs, the handmade and slowly made traditions, and a way of life that is in danger of being replaced by cheap, mass-produced imported goods. Their hope is that through the online store www.shopbeldi.com, they can bring these products to a bigger market, thereby preserving this artisanal culture and way of life.
For more information, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in New York City and would like to see the carpets in-person, they are happy to arrange an appointment.
They are happy to work with interior designers and architects on specific projects, and can source specialty or large-scale items directly from Morocco.