INTO THE WOOD

With in­tri­cately carved tim­ber doors, earthy tones and mud-dyed fab­rics fea­tured through­out, a tran­quil coun­try­side re­treat near Mar­rakech re­spect­fully ref­er­ences the lo­cal cul­ture.

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With in­tri­cately carved tim­ber doors, earthy tones and mud-dyed fab­rics fea­tured through­out, a peace­ful coun­try­side re­treat near Mar­rakech re­spect­fully ref­er­ences the lo­cal cul­ture

Pierre Pi­ra­jean and Héléna Para­boschi live in France, but spend at least one week a month in Morocco — the cou­ple own the restau­rants Le Grand Café de la Poste and Bô-Zin, both in Mar­rakech. To es­cape the bus­tle of the city they built a house in the quiet coun­try­side 30 min­utes’ drive from Mar­rakech, in a spot where there had pre­vi­ously only been a few palm and olive trees. “We wanted to ex­tend the lo­ca­tion’s sooth­ing tran­quil­lity into the in­te­rior of the house and into the gar­den,” says Para­boschi. “We love be­ing out­doors and wanted to be able to have lunch out­side in the win­ter, which is pos­si­ble here thanks to the mild cli­mate.” Bel­gian ar­chi­tect Christophe Siméon, to­gether with the Moroc­can ar­chi­tect Hakim Ben­jel­loun, drafted the phys­i­cal lay­out of the house and gar­den. Siméon, who has been liv­ing in Morocco for 15 years, spe­cialises in the ren­o­va­tion of old ri­ads and dars, many of which are rented. He is in­spired by such lo­cal African cul­tures as the Ber­bers in the moun­tains and the Do­gon, who live be­tween cliffff walls in Mali, and their use of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als like mud and wood. “Siméon con­sis­tently re­placed the some­times ex­u­ber­ant colours of Africa with sub­dued hues, such as brown and beige,” says Para­boschi. ››

‹‹ The ar­chi­tect’s vi­sion is re­flected in the dar — a one-storey house — in the large, sim­ple en­trance with a Do­gon-style door made of tamarind wood. In the bed­room there is a bed­spread with a tribal print, a clas­sic home­spun Ber­ber rug and an Egyp­tian camel sad­dle stool. There are fur­ther al­lu­sions to Do­gon cul­ture in the serene bath­room. “The clean lines and nar­row niches are com­mon to the mud huts the Do­gon live in,” says Para­boschi. A beau­ti­ful bow door made of cedar wood con­nects the bed­room to the en­closed pa­tio and fire­place. Again, Siméon has ap­plied in­flu­ences from Ber­ber cul­ture here, with a large rat­tan sofa and mat­tress covers in nat­u­ral colours. The cush­ions are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally Ma­li­nese and Sene­galese. “The ma­te­rial is bo­golan, a tra­di­tional mud-dyed can­vas,” ex­plains Para­boschi. “The sym­bolic mo­tifs in earthy tones are sup­posed to pro­tect you from evil spir­its.” The gar­den is di­vided into sev­eral spa­ces, in­clud­ing a din­ing area and a large ter­race. The en­trance to the din­ing space is im­pres­sive: the cor­ri­dor leads to im­mense Do­gon-style doors. “A car­pen­ter from nearby Ouarza­zate made the doors by hand,” re­calls Para­boschi. “He spent months on the hand-carv­ing, reg­u­larly re­turn­ing to Ouarza­zate to choose the best tamarind trees.” The din­ing space with a fire­place is gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned but was sim­ply fur­nished in a typ­i­cally African style by Siméon. “We of­ten eat here with fam­ily and friends who like vis­it­ing,” says Para­boschi with a smile. “Even in the win­ter you can en­joy lunch out here — in other sea­sons break­fast and din­ner too.” Res­i­dents and guests over­look the pond with wa­ter plants, where fish and frogs flour­ish. The sculp­tures in the pond are made of In­done­sian wood. “Their an­i­mal-like shapes re­mind me of an­te­lope,” says Para­boschi. The pond is sur­rounded by lush green­ery, in­clud­ing im­pos­ing palms. There is a set of steel gar­den fur­ni­ture — de­signed by Stu­dio Hop­scotch in Lon­don, run by the cou­ple’s in­te­rior de­signer daugh­ter, Cle­mence Pi­ra­jean, and then con­structed by a lo­cal crafts­man — and a Ber­ber-style can­vas canopy on the large ter­race. “We en­joy the beau­ti­ful panorama of the pool, the olive groves, and in par­tic­u­lar the At­las Moun­tains,” says Cle­mence. In the spring and sum­mer the home­own­ers also like spend­ing time in the colour­ful vegetable gar­den and fruit or­chard, which con­tains a va­ri­ety of plants in­clud­ing ba­nana, lime and fig trees; its main­te­nance re­quires five full-time gar­den­ers. It’s hard to imag­ine there used to be noth­ing more than a cou­ple of slen­der palm and olive trees where this har­mo­nious haven is now sit­u­ated. Life is equally pleas­ant in­doors and out. “We put our heart and soul into build­ing this par­adise out of noth­ing,” says Para­boschi proudly. The cou­ple — who re­cently opened a restau­rant in Dubai based on the for­mula of their for­mer Parisian restau­rant, La Can­tine du Faubourg, and will soon be ex­pand­ing to Ibiza — likes to stay here as much as pos­si­ble, even though they of­ten lack the time to do so. “This house is re­ally our sec­ond home,” con­cludes Para­boschi. “We’re al­ways a lit­tle sad to leave — but happy, too, know­ing we can al­ways come back.”

this page: in the kitchen, the din­ing ta­ble and bench seats are made from teak strips; lamp by Span­ish brand CONCHA BAY. op­po­site page: in the en­trance, lamps from MUSTAPHA BLAOUI in Mar­rakech; in the back­ground, Box­ing Girl bronze sculp­ture by home­owner PIERRE PI­RA­JEAN.

this page: in an­other view of the en­trance, mir­ror made from In­done­sian wood, typ­i­cal Ber­ber chair. op­po­site page: in the bed­room, Beni Ou­rain Ber­ber wool rug; Egyp­tian camel sad­dle stool from MUSTAPHA BLAOUI; bronze sculp­tures, Dancers, by PIERRE PI­RA­JEAN. De­tails, last pages.

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