NAMASTE,everyone! There, now I don’t feel bad about skipping yoga. I was just way too excited to talk about the design goodness I read over the weekend to get my OM on today. Marrakesh By Design by Maryam Montague is Moroccan me crazy, baby!
For some this style will be anything but calming to the mind, but, for me, this cacophony of brilliant color, graphic pattern and glitzy accoutrements is a song in my heart. If you’ve been following Embrace My Space, you know that I’m an ardent design book fanatic. So of course when Amazon.com recommended that I “Treat Myself” to Miss Montague’s beautiful book, I kindly obliged. You can only imagine my delight when I got this baby in my hot little hands just 24 hours later.
Marrakesh By Design is filled with glorious photos of Moroccan architecture, decorative finishes, colors and patterns. Accompanying the book’s spellbinding photography is a well-organized narrative that covers everything from the origins of Moroccan superstitions to the painstaking process a ma’allem (master craftsmen) uses to create a beautiful zellij (mosaic tile) installation. The book also features “Bringing It Home” pages where the author explains how you can streamline Moroccan decor and motifs into your spaces. This is a perfect read for anyone with a love for Moroccan maximalist design who dreams of shopping the souks for handmade home decor. If you’re not a globetrotter but love this look, Marrakesh by Design contains an excellent source list for seeking out Moroccan dyes, textiles and tiles from the comfort of your own home.
A particularly interesting segment of this book is Miss Montague’s discussion of how Moroccans incorporate symbols and talismans to protect against the evil eye in textiles such as rugs and blankets. Many, particularly Middle Eastern, cultures believe in an envious look known as the evil eye that can cause bad luck for the person upon whom the look is cast. A response to this ancient belief are handiras, or Moroccan wedding blankets, which are hand-woven on a vertical loom with cotton, linen and wool by Berber women in anticipation of a wedding in the family.
A most glamorous and unique feature of a handira is the infusion of shimmering mirrored sequins, known as mouzouns, which are believed to deflect the evil eye and bestow good luck upon the bride and her new family. The result of this detailed craftsmanship and rich culture are neutral, yet stunning, blankets that Westerners have adopted to add texture and luxe to their spaces. Yes, of course, I want one…for every room in my currently non-existent home.
I’ve always been mesmerized by the magic of Moroccan motifs and even incorporated a few in my first place. My favorite was the area rug in our guest bedroom, which is an example of how an ancient, graphic pattern can be woven into your space in a modern way through the use of a fresh color palette.
Marrakesh By Design couldn’t have hit my bookshelf at a better time. Since moving from Pittsburgh, which I talk about here, my husband and I have been living with his parents in his childhood home. I’ve been earning my keep by helping my mother-in-law with a complete basement renovation. My overall design for the space was inspired by her new-found love for Marrakech, which she visited on a recent trip. Having never visited this mysterious and magical city, Marrakesh By Design will be an instrumental resource as I search for paints, textiles, decorative finishes and accessories to complete the look of this space.
Due to a flood in the basement, we are literally starting from the ground up so I don’t have too much to show you at this stage in the makeover. Here’s a teaser to whet your appetite and pique your curiosity: The color palette is being drawn from a beautiful area rug (left) patterned with the Moroccan-inspired colors of greenish turquoise, beige, ivory, bottle green, black and brown. Moorish details will be incorporated through the use of wrought-iron (right), which is often found in elaborate patterns covering exterior windows in Moroccan homes. Come back soon to see the progress of our Moroccan basement makeover!
Have you incorporated Moroccan design into your home? If not, Marrakesh By Design will certainly help you to add a bit of global flair to your home, even if it is just by looking pretty on your coffee table or bookshelf!