My inspiration: The road to Morocco
If you’ve ever experienced Morocco, and by that I mean inhaled the incensed-filled air, archived a sultry-sunset in your mind forever and allowed your mind and body to stay in exuberant surroundings, then inspiration is the very least you will take away with you. As a writer, words can elude me, but when I visit Morocco they are boundless. In my food, on the walls and in the eyes of every local – creating my ultimate place of solace.
Morocco is currently effusing with a dynamic sense of purpose and direction. It has a fresh social and economic growth, a burgeoning tourist market and a culture draped in such beauty that the eyes of the creative world are diverted to the western part of the Maghreb for their design inspiration.
With a country that hosts nine official languages – including Spanish, Tachelhit and Hassaniyya Arabic – Morocco is a crossroad for diverse cultures and styles and is captivating artists, writers and designers alike, in their quest to take a little piece of Moroccan utopia home.
The warm, energetic Moroccan style, derived from Hispanic-Moorish influences, is sweeping its way around the globe, touching countries like the US, Germany, France and UK. The popularity of Northern African-themed hotels, restaurants and even homes has risen higher than the Atlas Mountains. Interior designers, both intermediate and expert, now have an invigorating stimulant to lavish their visions with.
In the home, the vibrant colours, tones and fabrics are imposing their rich magic in the exclusive pueblo designed homes of Santa Fe. California and New York are also following the trendy transition from the minimalistic décor that once permeated apartment blocks to more ethnic, warm furnishings. Terra cotta tiles, light fixtures and lanterns, wall sconces and tropical plants create the perfect ‘outside in’ – in a natural way.
Moroccan design incorporates bold colours such as fuchsia, royal blue and soothing colours of the Sahara. Precipitous accent walls and animated fabrics are also popular, heavily affecting the ways in which restaurants and bars attempt to create a sumptuous ambiance.
Pasha Restaurant in Kensington, London, for example, epitomises the perfect Moroccan oasis. Brass lanterns burn incense as spice boxes evoke an intimate atmosphere. North African influences also feature on the menu; with Bastilla and Couscous and an array of African wines.
Even the world of fashion has flirted with the recent furore. John Galliano’s 2008 Cruise Collection for Christian Dior may have graced the runways of New York, but at times it was as if you had landed in the bustling streets of Marrakech. Vivid patterns and pendants delivered a true Moroccan show.
For their 2008 season, Zara, the Spanish retail giants, have echoed North African influences within their range and even used landscape images and authentic fonts on their home page and catalogue.
Yves Saint Laurent, considered by many as one of the greatest fashion designers of the 20th century who died earlier this year, was an advocate of the Moroccan style both in his work and private life; his ashes were scattered in the garden of his villa in Marrakech.
Domestic architecture in Morocco varies greatly according to the regional climate and wealth. The interior décor serves a functional and aesthetic purpose; with vaults, cupolas, recessed walls and benches set in cement stucco; courtyards that invite guests to the patio for entertaining.
The doors are shaped in voluptuous arches and windows are fitted with wooden slides, engraved with charming patterns. Furnishings are rich in both colour and texture, as silk and crape is preferred to enhance the mood of each room. This imparts the furniture with a larger than life royal appearance. The seductive patterns and designs can be as mesmerising and enchanting as the trance-inducing music of Gnawa – a deeply hypnotic and famed style of Moroccan music.
In the pulsating heart of Marrakech, maison mk – a luxury hotel that offers a home from home feel – encompasses traditional materials with master craftsmanship. If it’s inspiration and serenity you’re searching for, then your journey ends here.
Paul Hopkins, Founder of maison mk, says: “We set out to create a glimpse of Marrakech tomorrow, by using cutting edge design concepts and combine it within an historic Moroccan framework resulting in the ultimate of luxury holidays in Morocco.”
The road from Morocco stretches far and wide, sprinkling its magic on the world, leaving us wanting more. So, in my opinion, there’s only one solution when your mind is foraging for inspiration: Go to Morocco!