Decorating & Design

October 23, 2009

Moroccan Design

Arriz and I love to travel and have been dying to visit Morocco. We’re hoping to stay at the exquisite Ksar Char-Bagh relais. Maybe this is the reason Morocco is on my mind, but I do also see it as a trend. I’m not talking about the overly Americanized version that includes bright jewel tones, badly beaded sheers and sparkled appliques. I mean a quieter more authentic version. The relais I’m dreaming of is a good example. I love how they’ve incorporated some traditional elements in a spare way for a more modern interpretation. I have sensitivity to overly lit spaces so I really like the moodiness inherent here.

Ksar Char Bagh Riad Images

The boutique hotel, Riad 12, in Marrakech is another good example of Moroccan décor, this time with a more modern sensibility in a crisp white palette and lots of pale wood. A modern four poster bed is very much on trend (as you will see in our upcoming trends issue in January). That simple sheer tossed over the top end makes it though. I love that traditional Moroccan and Mediterranean architecture features a central courtyard often with a pool feature in the middle, and lounging nooks around the perimeter. Unique furniture and simple drum sculptures hung on the wall are a fantastic feature. Low living is the hallmark of Moroccan décor and white cotton fabric gives this traditional feature a update. The beautiful metal screen on the window behind could be replicated with an oversized antique gate.

Riad 12 Marrakech Hotel Images

To me the key of Moroccan design is the idea of living low to the ground through floor cushions instead of sofas and low table. I’ve heard that sitting lower to the ground is better for your spine. I’m not sure if this is really true but I think there is something to be said for the idea of being more connected to the earth. It reminds me of the Rooms That Work story from our May 2009 issue, (and the cover of our French edition, Maison & Demeure) another upbeat take on Moroccan style. Lots of large floor cushions, several smaller, low tables instead of one giant coffee table and accents with a timeworn look establish the exotic vibe but the acidic colour palette and stylized Marimekko fabric gives it a fresh spin.

M&D Rooms That Work Cover

One of my favourite designers, Antony Todd, does a great job working in a Moroccan influence while still creating an entirely contemporary look. The rich deep blue wall paired with white arless sofa, the urn displayed on a single corbel and the long ikat cushion make for a sophisticated take on exotic. 

Antony Todd  Vogue Living Room

Designer Tom Scheerer also creates an interesting mix that has as subtlel exotic vibe. Just the curves on this daybed are enough to suggest worldly inspiration. He has a knack for including unconventional pieces like this cage-like pouf in a contemporary interior. It’s these sorts of touches that can shift a room’s look from predictable to unique. 

Tom Scheerer Beach House

Of course lanterns are a big part of Moroccan style.  I like these examples from Mexico’s Casamidy for their pared-back, almost industrial vibe. The leather strap on the hanging fixture adds some vibrancy and I just love the way that chunky candle looks like it’s trying to bust out of its frame. 

Casamidy Lanterns

These daybeds would all create a romantic Moroccan look that is current. The Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Clifton lounge in apricot, one of the season’s hottest colours, is great for a tailored urban look. West Elm’s Overlapping Squares daybed features a trellis pattern that is great in a small space because it has an open and airy effect. David Trubridge’s Float Bed for Design Mobel is the ultimate in romantic luxury. It reminds me of The Lady of Shalott, floating down the river. Ochre’s Snooze Day Bed is a cozy new take on a sleigh bed that is like being in a cocoon. Loaded up with solid plush cushions in rich jewel tones keeps it more chic than casbah.

Daybeds In Quad

One of the reasons I’m dying to go to Morocco, and a key element of this look, is for the flatweave rugs. I’ll be on the lookout for a striped kilim, similar to this one.

Michael Graydon Kilim Rug Shot

Photo credits:
Ksar Char-Bagh Relais & Chateaux
Riad 12
Debi Treloar, from “Bazaar Style” (Ryland Peters & Small, 2008) as seen on the May 2009 cover of Maison & Demeure
Antony Todd 
Tom Scheerer 
7. Clockwise from top:
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Design Mobel, Ochre, West Elm 
8. Michael Graydon