Early August saw Mr P and myself take a short flight across to Marrakech. We had both always wanted to go, the Mr for the ‘food’ and myself for the intricate patterns and architecture.
We were staying in a ‘Riad’ called ‘Maison Des Oliviers’ (A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. More on that later!) On the outskirts of town and since we arrived pretty late could not see a single thing! I could hear the frogs (noisily) having their conversations whilst we ate a hasty traditional dinner of cous cous and tagine on the terrace.
Temperatures generally ranged between 40 and 44 degrees. Most of the time it was just too hot to sit outside by the pool, instead you were better off in the souks, making your way through the medina which are maze like looking at all the merchandise on offer and bartering with the locals.
My best buy was a Moroccan tea set that included a teapot, traditional glasses (with filigree pattern work) and a serving tray. It now has pride of place in my kitchen and I am just itching to use it!! Mr P is not amused and shakes his head in dismay at yet another item in our home…. He doesn’t drink tea he exclaims for the 3rd time since we have been back.
Back to the architecture and design, a Moroccan Riad is a traditional house or palace. The reasons these types of houses have an internal courtyard is to ensure the privacy to their women, as privacy is very important within Islam as well as the need to protect against the weather. Looking from outside there would be a ‘fortress’ type wall protecting the home, with no windows or extra doors and all rooms would open into the central space promoting the idea of togetherness.
Traditionally the walls of the riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster (nearly waterproof lime plaster) and zellige tiles (terracotta tile work), usually with Arabic calligraphy, with quotes from the Quran.
The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house after a new vogue of renovation in towns such as Marrakech and Essaouira where many of these often-crumbling buildings have been restored to their former glory.
Moroccan style and design is now increasingly being used within interior schemes (for more articles on Moroccan design have a look at this blog http://moroccandesign.com).
From the light fixtures to the tile work, Moroccan design is all about the finishing touches. The quickest way to Moroccan interior design is using bright and colourful wool rugs, kilims or thin large rugs with traditional geometric and ethnic patterns.
Moroccan style home decorating invites rich colours of Middle Eastern interiors, dynamic contrasts, traditional patterns and uniqueness of Moroccan decorations and decor accessories. Vibrant colors of red and rich orange inspired by amazing African sunsets, green and blue found in the sea of the area, tones of gold, light brown, yellow and silver from the surrounding desert.
Whilst out there we indulged in a bit of pampering and booked the traditional Moroccan hammam treatment and relaxing massage. A hammam is in essence a large steam room where you get cleansed and Moroccans go at least once a week, a ritual of sorts. Once the cleansing ritual had been completed we were left to relax for about 15 minutes before being guided to the massage room where we both had an hour of relaxing massage bliss. Mr. P even fell asleep whilst lying on the massage bed.
For the most part of our weeklong break I spent relaxing and writing lists, as well as enjoying the permanent sun and warmth. The food at ‘Pepenero’ was amazing, especially the dessert, but that was it for me…
Visiting Morocco I envisaged little streets with lots of Moroccan arches and special mosaic details. However I was a little disappointed as it wasn’t as culturally ‘special’ as I thought it would be. I guess when you build up an idea in your head about what a place is going to be like, especially taking into consideration their design and architectural history, you are bound to be heading for some sort of disappointment.
Finally…. I loved this tree with lights and just HAD to continuously take photographs of it much to the annoyance of Mr. P!!