Imagine this mid-century moderne room without the colorful flat-weave rugs laid end-to-end. It would instantly revert to the the usual restraint of much contemporary decor. Patterns of rugs create a space that is welcoming, cosy, colorful, and mutes the difference between seat and floor, no matter where you are. They create an earthy, random feel…

…and can provide wonderful disguises for cold or beat-up floors and old wall-to-wall…

They create magic outdoors as well

Rugs-on-rugs used to be an earmark of seventies hippy-ish bohemian homes…

They emulate nomadic Arabic tradition, where rugs are used to create spaces to gather upon, and even the walls of shelters…

Berber rug tent

The images of those chic modern homes jarred our recent memory of photos we had seen while looking at recent “virtual tours” of the many refugee camps that dot the Middle East and now Europe. In so many of them, in the most terrible conditions, rugs had been laid down to create a semblance of home and rest.

In this Tuesday, March 17, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee Adala Ismail, 32, who is six months pregnant, poses for a portrait inside her tent at an informal settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Expectant mothers in these settlements often can’t afford doctor visits and face potential health hazards because of lack of running water and other challenges. By contrast, pregnant women in Jordan’s three recognized refugee camps have access to free services, including pre-natal care and delivery, according to the U.N. refugee agency. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

At the amazing site Refugee Republic, you can walk the vast camp, which is like a small city and literally look around…

Refugee Republic
Refugee Republic…

The New York Times’ virtual travels with displaced people are a revelation and not to be missed.

When we pad across our kilim rugs made in the 1940’s by unknown women and feel their wool and texture, we think of their long path to us, of all the people who took comfort on them before us, and now, of the people carrying their precious rugs with them to make a semblance of home wherever they may find themselves.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider


top photo via SF Girl By Bay via Sophie Munro Photography

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