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Aicha’s House

If you love Moroccan rugs but are also interested in the heritage of the Berber people who weave them, grab yourself a copy of the March edition of World of Interiors magazine.  It features Aicha’s home, a traditional clay walled house in the Atlas Mountains.  I visited a Berber house a few years ago, and Aicha’s home is laid out in the traditional way with life revolving around an interior courtyard, except that this is the only house in the village that’s painted. It stands facing the rising sun, with its back to the river and a view of the slopes and Argan trees which are used as supporting pillars for the house. Aicha has used a combination of her imagination, memories and traditional Berber motifs to decorate the walls. Everywhere (except the limewashed kitchen) the colour of the clay walls peeps through.

I can remember being astonished to see that cattle are kept in the basement, but there is method in this as the heat from the cow’s body warms the house above.  A metal rack in the kitchen holds all of the pots and pans needed for cooking and glasses for mint tea.  The fridge is only for occasional use and runs on bottled gas and the hen will only lay eggs in the hay stored for the cows! Read the full story and see all of the gorgeous images of this richly decorated organic Berber home in this month’s edition of the magazine.

 

Images courtesy of World of Interiors magazine. Photography by Marc Belli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MODERN BERBER KILIMS

As we move towards the lighter warmer days of Spring, what better time to think about updating the look of your room with a colourful flatweave kilim instead of a pile rug.  They are perfect to add texture and colour to a wooden, tiled or stone floor. We always have a good selection of vintage Berber kilims available in Marrakech, but did you know that we offer a bespoke service for our modern Berber kilims? They are woven by hand in the traditional way in our exclusive workshop in the Atlas mountains and can be made to both your size and design specification with a lead time of approximately 4-6 weeks.  We understand how difficult it is to know exactly what your kilim will look like when it arrives, close up photos will show the colour and design but our samples will show you the weight, texture and thickness of our kilims. Please get in touch if you would like to see a sample, we have several different colourways available.

info@marbleandmint.co.uk

 

MARRAKECH – WHAT TO SEE ACCORDING TO JASPER CONRAN

Ten tips of what to see in Marrakech by designer Jasper Conran who has recently designed his own stunning Riad in the heart of the Medina…..’L’Hotel Marrakech’,  (Images and text courtesy of Elle Decor Italia Itineraries). I will add my own personal recommendation for lunch at Cafe des Epices, sunset at Cafe de France and cocktails at La Mamounia…..next trip scheduled for early March 2018!

1. A place to have breakfast:

After strolling in the heart of the Medina among the numerous bazaars, and having visited the Souk (typical market in the central square), enchanted by the myriad of colors and perfumes, stop at the Café des Epices, the perfect place to enjoy a mint tea on a large multicolored rooftoop.

2. A fascinating place:

The Koranic school Medersa Ben Youssef, dating back to the 14th century. It is the best place to observe the typical decorations in stucco and inlaid cedar, combined with zellij tiling, typical colorful Moroccan mosaic tiles.

3. Somewhere to enjoy the sunset:

Nothing better than the main square, perhaps drinking a freshly squeezed juice or spice tea at one of the local street food stalls.

4. An architectural work to admire:

The Bahia Palace, a complex dating back to the 19th century, covers over 8 hectares of land and includes the gardens and areas reserved for the Sultan’s harem.
Among the decorations made by local artisans, you can stop for a quick drink at the Cozy Bar. From there, you can spot the nests of the storks on the ancient city walls.

5. A place to relax:

A stone’s throw from the Saadian Tombs, the SPA Les Bains de Marrakech is the perfect place for those who have never experienced the unique experience of Turkish baths.

6. A special place:

The Jardin Majorelle, acquired by the couple Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980, which immediately underwent restoration work. Inside them, there is an unmissable Berber museum.

7. Where to go for lunch:

Outside the city, the rural atmosphere lends itself to a bath and a relaxing lunch among the rose gardens, olive trees and orchards of the Beldi Country Club (also known as Jnane Tamsna).

8. An afternoon break:

An ice cream at the famous and historic Mamounia hotel is a must. Here, hundreds of colorful flowers and 18th century cider orchards create a unique atmosphere.

9. A restaurant for dinner:

In the heart of the main Jamaa el Fna square, from booth number 47 to 98, to experience all the good local food. Do not miss the Fish & Chips, the stew and hibiscus tea.

10. The following day. A corner from which to admire the sunrise:

The sky. Ciel D’Afrique balloon offers an exceptional view of the High Atlas Mountains and the Imperial City of Marrakech. It is an experience to be tried.

 

MARBLE AND MINT AND VINTERIOR

If you love unique vintage and mid-century finds, hop over to Vinterior where we’re showcasing an exclusive collection of our vintage Boujaad rugs.  These beautiful works of art originate from the Haouz region of Morocco, between the Middle Atlas mountains and the Atlantic ocean.  They were traditionally woven using bold colours such as pinks, oranges, purples and reds, which just happen to be perfect for the Autumn season  ahead.  Boujaad are pile rugs and usually incorporate a number of Berber motifs and lozenges, telling the weaver’s tale of rural life, marriage and spirituality.  These pieces are all shipped direct from our Riad showroom in Marrakech, and are not currently available on our website.  Each rug is, of course, completely unique, so check them out early….once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Vintage Boujaad (£1,300) available to buy at www.vinterior.co.

YSL MUSEUM – MARRAKECH

Yves Saint Laurent had many muses, but only one Marrakesh, the city where he discovered light and color, draping and caftans. There, in a series of homes — of which his final and most notable was the opulent Villa Oasis — Saint Laurent sketched some of his best designs (and hosted some of his wildest parties).

This October, some 50 years after the designer’s first visit to Morocco, a state-of-the-art fashion museum honoring his oeuvre will open just steps from the Jardin Marjorelle, the villa’s botanical escape-cum-tourist attraction. The new, 43,000-square-foot building, designed by the Paris-based firm Studio KO, will house thousands of articles of clothing and haute couture accessories, all carefully selected by Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s partner in business and in life. Expect to see such iconic pieces as Le Smoking and the safari jacket, but not an exhaustive retrospective. (A sister museum, Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, opening in YSL’s former atelier on 5 Avenue Marceau a few weeks prior, will fill that role.)

“Here, we wanted to explore the spectacular and fantasy side of the work,” says Madison Cox, vp of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent and director of the Jardin Marjorelle. Confections like a scarlet faille couture cape embroidered with purple and hot-pink bougainvillea and an African-inspired beaded minidress from the 1967 Bambara haute-couture collection will hang in the permanent exhibition hall. Elsewhere, original scenography incorporating “floating voices, quotes, images and film snippets” by the French architect and set designer Christophe Martin will add a sense of “magic,” says the museum director Bjorn Dahlstrom.

No less expressive is the building itself, with both modern and traditional Moroccan influences (locally-sourced terrazzo, red brick latticework, bush hammered concrete) and a curved facade that mimics the folds of fabric. “We designed it like a sculpture; a game of volumes and heights,” Studio KO co-founder Olivier Marty says of the space, which will feature a bookshop, research library, auditorium and a cafe serving French-leaning fare with a terrace overlooking a reflection pool. Inside, light streams through stained-glass windows inspired by Saint Laurent’s love for Henri Matisse — blues and greens on one side of the entrance hall, reds and tangerines on the other. “He’s Marrakesh and Paris. He’s color and black, masculine and feminine, the line and arabesque,” says Dahlstrom. “Together, it’s essential YSL.”

Article courtesy of New York Times Style Magazine 

GLOBAL FUSION

Homes & Antiques magazine, October edition, is out now, echoing the continuing interiors trend for arts and crafts from far flung locations, especially when they are handmade and support local artisans.

 

Check out H & A Lifestyle Homes this month, a former carpenter’s warehouse which dates back to the 1800’s, once part of the East End of London’s thriving furniture district, which now reflects the owner’s love of Thailand and industrial design.

Marble and Mint are included in their favourite global picks, along with several other amazing e-tailers selling artisan items from China, India, Tibet, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Well worth a read!  On sale from 17th August.

 

TRADITIONAL WEAVING/MODERN DESIGN…..CUSTOM RUGS AND KILIMS

Autumn ’17 will hopefully see me returning to Morocco for a visit to one of two workshops in the Atlas Mountains.   This is located in Azrou (a gruelling 6 hours drive from Marrakech) a town around 90 kilometres south of Fez in Ifrane.  The cedar forests and monkeys are what draw visitors to the town, but it is also home to an important Berber market and the origin of Beni Mguild carpets, colourful rugs woven with a thick pile to protect against the cold winters of the region.  Here we have 150 women working their magic, using traditional weaving techniques to create modern pieces on vertical looms.  This is where our pile rugs are woven and a carpet with the dimensions of approximately 3 x 2 metres can take around 25 days to weave.   Our second workshop is in the High Atlas region, where we have 50 women working, and is where our modern Berber kilims are woven.  This weaving technique is more complicated and the same size wool kilim can take 50 days to complete.  Finished pieces then make their way down to our Riad showroom, Bazar du Sud, in Marrakech Medina.  Showroom visits are always available by appointment.  Contact us here in the UK on 07746 727536 or in Morocco on 00212 661245401 and speak to El Yazid Lamdaghri.

We have samples of our modern Berber kilims here in the UK, and if you’re unsure of any colour or design, we can send these out on loan.  We are also happy to  provide a consultation service in your own home.  All of our modern Berber rugs and kilims can, of course, be made to your own size specification; although we do have a stock of ready made pieces in various designs and colourways in our Marrakech showroom.  The image below shows a blue kilim on the wall on the left, which is a beautiful example of modern Berber weaving.  Please get in touch if you would like to see any samples, images, or require any information on sizes and prices.  info@marbleandmint.co.uk.

INTERIOR TRENDS AUTUMN/WINTER 2017

Elle Decoration August Edition is out now, with everything you need to know about Autumn/Winter 2017 trends (yes we’re there already).  #1 is Fifties Colours.  I love these colour combinations, and this takes me back to my student days when my first room sheme was based on the designs from this period.

Fifties Colours – Photos Courtesy of Elle Decoration

Mustard yellows, pinks, burgundy and olive make up the season’s trending colours, and I can see the wildly abstract colours and designs of a vintage Boucherouite rug fitting perfectly with this colour palette.  We’re planning to add a collection of smaller size Boucherouite rugs to our collection very soon, with the idea that these easy care, washable rugs are ideal for a bathroom, so look out for those in our online shop soon.

#2 home trend is Global Fusion.  This is all about combining home accessories that you love and that express your personality, regardless of their style or origin.  In other words, anything goes, and I absolutely love this idea of cultural fusion.  I have objects that I’ve collected from Africa, India, Indonesia and Morocco and they all come together to create a completely original scheme.

Parisian home of Marina Coriasco, photo courtesy of Elle Decoration

 

Try mixing woven baskets, clay pots, wooden accessories and textile wall hangings.  The muted colours and organised tribal designs of our flatweave Kilims are perfect additions for this trend.  Don’t forget that if you don’t see the sizes you need in our online shop, we can created your perfect custom kilim in our workshop in the Atlas Mountains, with a lead time of approximately 6 weeks.

 

 

 

JEBEL SIROUA – MID-CENTURY KNOTTED RUGS

New to our website this week is a small collection of mid-century, hand knotted wool rugs from Jebel Siroua, in the southern High Atlas region.  This is a quiet corner of Morocco, rarely attracting visitors, where the local Berber people live a simple traditional life, grazing their sheep and farming almonds and saffron, for which the region is famous.

Photo courtesy of Adventure Peaks Limited

It is extremely cold in this part of the mountains, with snow usually covering the summit of Jebel Siroua in the winter (an ancient strato volcano) which can only be reached with ropes by professional climbers.  By Easter the snow melts, and Autumn sees the long, time consuming task of harvesting the saffron.  Carpets are woven here in the homes of the Berber tribes, and at any time if you visit you can see the weaving of carpets in production and enjoy a cup of saffron tea!

Check out our collection of rugs from this remote region, which are around 70-80 years old, and all completely unique.

THE COLOUR PINK (not just for girls)

It’s no secret that pink is one of my favourite colours and when I’m looking through new stock to add to our website, my eye will always be drawn to any rugs with a background of blush pink or pops of a brighter pink tint.  There’s an ongoing trend for blush pink in both interiors and the fashion world and if you’re interested in colour psychology, pink is said to have a calming effect when used in interiors, inspiring feelings of security and safety.   It’s a complete coincidence that my favourite city, Marrakech, is known as the ‘pink city’.  The pigments in the earth in the area create a beautiful salmon pink coloured plaster which decorates the exterior of the majority of the buildings.

Pink is a tint made from a combination of red and white.  Adding a touch of black darkens the tint, and adding a small amount of another colour will give an undertone of that colour to the pink tint.  The name ‘pink’ may date back to the 17th century and may be derived from the Dutch flower ‘pinken’.  In almost every culture there is a stereotypical view that pink is for girls and blue for boys, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that pink was strongly associated with femininity.  The symbolism of the colour could argue that the opposite is true, that pink is derived from red which is active, hence masculine.  In the 18th century it was considered perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit.  Pink can be a very contradictory colour with associations to both feminine and masculine, tenderness and shallowness.

Below is a beautifully serene and calming bedroom at the wonderful El Fenn riad in Marrakech.  Don’t forget to check out the pink tints in our new collection of Boucherouite rugs now available in our online shop.