Why Neale Whitaker is intoxicated by all things Moroccan.
FEW CAN RESIST THE APPEAL OF THIS EXOTIC INTERIORS TREND
We Aussies, with our love of all things functional, minimal and Scandinavian, have an exotic alter ego when it comes to interior design. Morocco. Say the words “Marrakech” or (my favourite) “Ouarzazate” and we go misty-eyed at the thought of traditional riads with rooms around an alfresco courtyard; of rich, burnished tadelakt walls and handpainted tiles; of fragrant tagines and dazzling, peacock colour. Turmeric, cinnamon and saffron… the Morocco of the mind even smells amazing.
Whether we’ve been there or not, Morocco appeals to our inner romantic. When I post Moroccan images (usually a favourite riad, such as the legendary El Fenn), my feed goes into emoji overdrive, and I guarantee that in the new March/april issue of Vogue Living one of the most popular features will be L’hôtel Marrakech, a boutique retreat in a former palace, created by British fashion designer Jasper Conran. With billowing white curtains and a courtyard fragrant with jasmine and honeysuckle, it’s the stuff of fantasy.
Cassandra Karinsky is an Australian who divides her time between homes in Marrakech and Sydney. Her store Kulchi (kulchi.com) brings Moroccan carpets, textiles and furnishings to our shores.
Karinsky calls Morocco “intoxicating” and says that when she first arrived, she “knew instantly it was where I had to be”. Morocco’s appeal, she feels, lies in its remote, otherworldliness. “It represents an exotic, romantic, faraway land, a place where you can live a bohemian lifestyle.”
Equally bewitched is Tigmi Trading’s Danielle Mcewan (tigmitrading.com), who points out that while we tend to think of Moroccan style as one aesthetic, there is much regional variation, from the neutrals and monochromes associated with the Beni Ourain tribes, to the brighter palettes of Boujad and Azilal.
“Moroccan rugs work in almost any context,” she says, “and add texture to the clean lines of mid-century and modernist interiors” – two styles popular in Australia. Less romantic, but perhaps a more rational explanation for our current Moroccan love-in.
And a word of advice for the Morocco-sceptics. Brew some mint tea and lose yourself in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1990 movie The Sheltering Sky. Because whatever “epiphany” is in Berber, that’s what it will be. Neale Whitaker is editor-in-chief of Vogue Living.
SPICE UP YOUR (HOME) LIFE The rich patterns and textures of traditional Moroccan rugs and furnishings are a welcome addition to the modernist interiors aesthetic.