I am crazy about Morocco. Nothing says more about Morocco than the architecture. The wooden carvings, the bolts, the arches, the zeillig tiles, the plasterwork and the smell of cedar wood.
The love affair started in the 80’s when my hobby was collecting and restoring Orientalist furniture from the flea market of St Ouen in Paris. Since that period, I must have visited Morocco at least 40 times. I love making things - and instead of searching the tourist shops for the normal kitschy souvenirs, I’ve searched out the hardware stores and filled my baggage allowance with big door bolts and domed door studs - the stuff you’ll never find at Homebase or in an IKEA catalogue!
On one visit to Marrakesh I fell in love with an arched doorway, and not to be beaten by the luggage restrictions, I persuaded the trader to cut it into sections for the airplane.
So much was my love for the architecture that I was about to buy a riad in Fez.
I found the perfect property. It had the beautiful, tiled centre courtyard, arched doors, carved plaster walls and so on, but as the date to sign the contract loomed, I realised that I didn’t really want to have the hassle of a second home abroad, but that I actually wanted Moroccan architectural features in my London home to share all year round with my family and friends.
As the Fez property never materialised, I built a house in London instead with architectural features from the craftsmen of Morocco. I spent many days working on designs with them, and shipping everything in kit form to the UK to be assembled by British craftsmen. It was a perfect marriage.
I understood that you didn’t need to bring whole doors over, just all the fittings and carvings. It is even now forbidden to export antique doors from Morocco, plus they don't meet the fire regulations for British homes. As with making couture clothes (I am a fashion designer by training), a beautiful door is all about beautiful accessories.
Because of the many artisan craftsmen I know who can manufacture Moroccan furniture into kit form for export, combined with my unique way of reassembling it in my London workshop, I have finally launched Casbah Collection based on over thirty years of experience.
In my next blog, I will show you how I totally Moroccanised my IKEA wardrobes.
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