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Vintage Moroccan Rug Seller Rolls Into Wicker Park's North Avenue

By Alisa Hauser | April 15, 2013 9:32am

WICKER PARK — A rug merchant that says he does 90 percent of his business online has opened a small public show room in Wicker Park.

"I like to interact with people. It's good to see people, explain the history of a Moroccan rug," said Mark Hannoun, owner of Hannoun Rugs.

Hannoun Rugs opened about a week ago at 2140 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park.

Formerly home to a handbag store, the 1,200 square-foot storefront space beneath a condominium complex is now packed with some 1,500 rugs from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The vintage handmade rugs with tribal motifs and unique colorful patterns are made from wool and cotton by members of the semi-nomadic Berber tribes, Hannoun said.

According to Hannoun, vintage rugs are back in style and in high demand for a wide range of uses that include wall hangings and throw blankets in addition to floor coverings.

"People are tired of beige and brown, they want to add more color to their homes," Hannoun said.

Hannoun describes the rugs in his shop as "casual, inexpensive, practical" and said bestselling styles include black and creme patterned Beni Ouarain rugs as well as boucherouite rugs, which use all recycled materials such as torn clothing.

Referencing a New York Times feature story on Moroccan rugs which focused on the boucherouite style, known for asymmetrical designs offering surprising patterns with bursts of color, Hannoun said the rugs could be sold in a fine art gallery.

"Many dealers sell furniture and clothes too. Some people didn't think I'd make it just selling rugs but here I am 10 years later," Hannoun said.

Rugs curated by Hannoun are used by noted Chicago designers like Nate Berkus and celebrities who frequent a shop he runs in the summer months in the resort town of Water Mill, New York near the Hamptons.

In addition to the rugs which Hannoun hand picks on yearly buying trips and range in price from $200 to many thousands of dollars, the shop offers a small selection of Moroccan pillows and cushions, too.

Hannoun, who lives downtown, said he chose Wicker Park for his Chicago headquarters because it's one of his favorite neighborhoods that he's "watched change and grow."

Hannoun Rugs is at 2140 W. North Ave. Hours are 12 p.m. to 5 pm. daily, though he suggested  calling 773-227-1400 to make an appointment.