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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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 

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.

 

 

A TRADITIONAL BERBER HOME

Well worth a read in the current edition of World of Interiors magazine is an article entitled ‘Menage and Menagerie’ featuring a traditional Berber home in the High Atlas Mountains, near Taroudant and some fantastic photography by Roland Beaufre.

The home of El Habib and Fatima has been constructed entirely from natural materials found in the mountains, with rooms arranged around a central courtyard in traditional Moroccan style.  The courtyard contains the building’s one and only tap, where the family do the laundry and washing up.  The whole structure is supported by twisted branches from the Argan tree, well known for producing the famous Argan oil now used widely in cooking, cosmetic products and for medicinal purposes.  The family receive visitors in the main reception room, dotted with palm stools arranged around a low round table, to eat and drink tea.

Man and beast live in harmony in traditional Berber homes, a hole in the floor providing light and ventilation for the cows kept in the basement below, who in turn provide a natural source of heat to the occupants upstairs.  Peacocks are kept and stay indoors during the day and guard the house outside at night.  Dogs, however, are always kept outside.  Donkeys even have their own doorway!

A 1950’s space, with seating arranged around the walls of the room and soft, pastel coloured plaster walls, has the addition of a brightly coloured Boucherouite rag rug.

You can read the full article and the interview with the family by Marie-France Boyer in May’s Edition of World of Interiors.  Photography credit: Roland Beaufre.

 

MODERN BERBER KILIM COLLECTION

We’re loving the trend for modern Berber rugs and kilims here at Marble and Mint.   Spring is fast approaching, the light is changing and soon we will probably be thinking about packing away our cosy pile rugs for something lighter for the warmer months.  So, in addition to our collection of new Beni Ouarain rugs, we are now introducing some stunning new flat weave kilims.  Some designs are already up on our website, with more designs in stock in Marrakech.

Custom sizes are also available to order.  These wool kilims are made exclusively for us, using our own designs, in our workshop in the Anti Atlas region of Morocco.  Their simple, classic designs and paired down colour palettes make them ideal for a contemporary interior, and a perfect partner for a wooden, stone or tiled floor.  A personal favourite is the black and white design (seen here at Maison et Objet in Paris last month) which we know will be popular with anyone in love with monochrome interiors.  Please get in touch or give us a call if you would like any more information.  Tel. 0044 (0)7746 727536  Email  info@marbleandmint.co.uk

COSY BENI OUARAIN RUGS FOR THE WINTER SEASON

We’re into the middle of November, and even though Christmas is everywhere already, it’s still a little early for me to be thinking earnestly about the festive season!  What is nice though, and never too early to consider, is how to make your home warm and cosy, not just for Christmas, but to see you through the long cold months ahead.  A pure wool rug, with a soft deep pile is the perfect addition to any room for the Winter season.

My December issue of Elle Decoration UK recently arrived, and features a beautiful vintage Beni Ouarain rug, which sits perfectly next to the simple Christmas fir trees in this Danish home photographed by Birgitta Wolfgang.  This simple Scandinavian style setting is stunning, but with their classic designs and monochrome colours, Beni rugs sit easily with any interior style.  We have some beautiful vintage Beni rugs available in our stock in Marrakech, but we also offer as an alternative a collection of modern rugs, woven from the finest quality wool using traditional weaving techniques.  Take a look at our sample size sale, a collection of rugs in the perfect size for sitting in front of a sofa, the fire, or underneath a small table.  After weaving, these modern rugs are washed and dried up to eight times, and it’s this repeated washing which improves the appearance and texture of the wool, giving it a luxuriously soft silkiness. Perfect for sinking your feet into!  Buying a good quality rug like this is an investment, and with the right care it can and should last you a lifetime, not just for Christmas!

TRADITIONAL BERBER TEXTILE DESIGN AND THE FASHION WORLD

Fantastic to see this beautiful coat at New York Fashion Week by Ulla Johnson…….Gorgeous or what?

It clearly takes its inspiration from the design of traditional Berber wedding blankets or Handira, embellished with hundreds of sequins and fringing.  It’s not the first time we’ve seen this inspiration recently.  This beautiful jumper is available from Plumo’s Autumn collection, and takes the same inspiration.

Photo credit Plumo Studio
Photo credit Plumo Studio

It’s not unusual to see trends from the catwalk filtering down to interiors.  Colour trends, designs and textures usually follow down from one to the other, but it’s great to see the reverse, the catwalk taking inspiration from traditional textiles.  That beautiful coat by Ulla Johnson appearing at NYFW is a sure sign that something similar will soon be in our high street stores!  Stunning….it’s definitely on my Christmas list.