“Kiliim started because we were finishing our daughter’s room and we were looking for a kilim rug, but we couldn’t find anything that fit the aesthetic,” says Noha El Taher, co-founder of the lifestyle brand reviving and sustaining the craft of hand-made kilim-weaving in Egypt by putting a modern design spin on the traditional techniques.
Noha, a designer, and her husband Ibrahim, who has a background in sales and marketing, saw an opportunity to join forces and founded Kiliim – Modern Handcrafted Kilim in 2016. The brand has quickly gained recognition on a global stage.
They went on to learn that the Fowwa village in Egypt’s Kafr El-Shaikh governorate was once a hub of kilim-weaving with more than 2,000 workshops. However, the dying industry has meant that today there are less than 200 surviving workshops and less and less people that can carry on the tradition of the craft.
Noha played with modernizing the kilim aesthetic by borrowing from motifs and elements found in traditional kilim sold on the streets and creating new color palettes and patterns.
“Our latest collection was an exploration in textures,” she says, which was a learning experience for both her and the craftsmen. “These guys were used to freestyling. They would create the design as they go along… but for our business model, consistency was a big part.”
The social enterprise is teaching a new generation the craft through their growing number of workshops, and is planning to launch a Kiliim school to teach marginalized youth and women in Fowwa.