The Finer Details of our Riad in Marrakech
One of the lovely things about renovating a riad in Marrakech is the ability to have local craftsmen create what you would like. For instance this space in our grand courtyard is a small sitting area. Previously there was a blank wall with an assymetrical opening into the spa massage room behind. Our skilled plasterer turned it into a work of art.
This is a detail of the hand-sculpted plasterwork in the bhou (sitting area in the courtyard). This portion decorates a narrow window that illuminates the spa massage room behind. The old muallim (master) craftsman, a very patient man as many of the craftsmen are, took several weeks to work on the patterned plasterwork in the riad--in the bhou, pillars in the courtyard and two headboards in Peridot and Ebony.
These tiny buttons decorating the cushion are usually found on caftans. They are all made by hand and were sewn on by hand. Not so visible is the lovely machine embroidery along the centre panel. You can see this being created on an ancient Singer sewing machine on our video "Embroidery with old Singer machine Marrakech"
The fabrics we chose for drapes and cushions are handwoven in Marrakech. Craftsmen use ancient looms, all hand-operated without any electricity, to create these lustrous fabrics. See our videos: Our local weaver using a hand-operated loom" and "Mustafa local weaver Marrakech medina". The thread, called 'sabra', is from the cactus plant that grows in the area. It is very strong and holds colours fast.
As fabric it is used to make bed covers, drapes, cushions, bags, even slippers.
Our modern lampshades create wonderful shadow patterns when lit at night. Our metal lampmaker, Mohamed, created them for us from a photo. To see some metal craftsmen at work making beautiful lampshades see our series of videos of craftsmen in the medina of Marrakech and scroll down to "Bang, bang go the metalworkers in Marrakech" and "Handcrafted metal lampshades and more made in Marrakech"
We had originally requested traditional turned wood for our balustrade on the upper floor. However, they were delayed and in order not to hold up construction we were forced to find another solution--this glass balustrade is very modern but we've managed nevertheless to introduce the Moroccan element by having a traditional metal design etched in the glass. Many things are possible in Marrakech!
We purchased this berber necklace in the mellah, the old Jewish quarter of the old city. They are made up of amazingly big beads - Berber women must have very strong necks!
The selection of colours shows great artistic taste.
The wall lampshade is from the suqs, cut from metal, giving lovely shadow patterns at night.
This is a close-up of the tassels in the suite Ebony. They are all hand-made in Marrakech and you'll find many stores in the souks selling tassels.
You can have them made-to-order in the colours, size and design that appeals to you.
These tassels were made for us from a store in the mellah quarter of the old city of Marrakech.
This is a view of the menzeh, the wooden latticework, that forms a small private balcony for the Ebony suite.
They are traditional window coverings to allow the women to look out but not be seen from the outside.
Our leather-covered fan is the perfect example of all things are possible in Marrakech. Rather than having a rather plain ceiling fan or one that was somewhat over-the-top we opted for a custom-made one that is in between.
We purchased a very ordinary fan, then went to the leather market to purchase a couple of sheepskins. We took these along to a local leatherworker - he normally makes leather jackets - and asked him to sew the leather onto the parts of the fan. And voilà a transformed, characterful ceiling fan. And yes, it does actually work.