Photo Diary: Morocco

We visited Morocco recently and it won’t come as a surprise to hear it’s a photographer’s paradise. There is design inspiration around every corner. Here’s a diary of images that stood out. Enjoy!

 

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Fantasia rider.
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Kitties, kitties, everywhere.
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Artist Hassan Hajjaj’s Riad Yima in Marrakesh.

 

 

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Pool overlooking the port city of Essouaria.
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Beautiful zellij tile work at Ben Youssef Madrasa.
Camel riding in Essaouria.
Camel riding in Essaouria.
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Mail boxes and tile work in Essaouira.
The colorful Taros restaurant overlooking the ocean in Essaouira.
The colorful Taros restaurant overlooking the ocean in Essaouira.
Cactii in the Jardin Majorelle.
Cactii in the Jardin Majorelle.
Rugs for sale in Essaouira.
Rugs for sale in Essaouira.
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Marrakesh donkey which made a run for it after we walked by.
Blue doors keep the evil eye away.
Blue doors keep the evil eye away.
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The High Atlas Mountains.

 

Meat for sale in Imlil.
Meat for sale in Imlil.
Fantasia riders charging.
Fantasia riders charging.
The stunning Jardin Majorelle.
The stunning Jardin Majorelle.
Arch detail in the Ben Youseff Medrasa.
Arch detail in the Ben Youseff Medrasa.
Artwork by Hassan Hajjaj.
Artwork by Hassan Hajjaj.
Overlooking Essaouira.
Overlooking Essaouira.
Thuya wood jewelry carvers in Essaouira.
Thuya wood jewelry carvers in Essaouira.
Streets of Essaouira.
Streets of Essaouira.
Exotic ingredients for magic potions.
Exotic ingredients for magic potions.
Ruins in Essaouira
Beach villa ruins in Essaouira
Sweets merchant in the Marrakech souk.
Sweets merchant in the Marrakech souk.
Boat in the harbor of Essaouira.
Boats in the harbor of Essaouira.
Magical tunnels leading to mysterious places in Essaouira.
Magical tunnels leading to mysterious places.
Zellij tile - stunning!
Zellij tile – stunning!
Sleeping kitten.
Sleeping kitten.
Aromatic spices.
Colorful aromatic spices.
Mosque in Marrakesh.
Mosque in Marrakesh.
Yves Saint Lauren's yearly "Love" artwork at the Jardin Majorelle.
Yves Saint Laurent’s yearly “Love” artwork at the Jardin Majorelle.
Colorful doorway in Essaouira.
Colorful doorway in Essaouira.
Call to prayer in Marrakech.
Call to prayer in Marrakesh.
Walled city of Essaouira.
Ancient walled city of Essaouira.
Jardin Majorelle.
Jardin Majorelle.
Fish vendor in Essaouira.
Fish vendor in Essaouira.
Riding camels in Essaouira.
Riding camels in Essaouira.
The stunning Ben Youssef Medrasa.
The stunning Ben Youssef Medrasa.
Overlooking Marrakesh.
Overlooking Marrakesh.
Shells for sale in Essaouira.
Shells for sale in Essaouira.
Walls of Essaouira.
Walls of Essaouira.
Riad Dix Neuf la Ksour in Marrakesh.
Our room at the Riad Dix Neuf la Ksour in Marrakesh.

 

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Gorgeous riad doors everywhere.

 

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Magical Jardin Majorelle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peacock Pavilions: Marrakesh Global Design Oasis

IMG_4959If you’re a fan of global design, you’re probably familiar with My Marrakesh, the blog about Moroccan living by designer, hotelier and humanitarian Maryam Montague. She’s become quite the phenomenon over the last few years. Not only the writer of a drool worthy design blog set in North Africa, she’s the author of the recently published “Marrakesh by Design” – a guide to fabulous Moroccan design.IMG_4594

Oh, and there was the article in Elle Decor… So when my husband and I decided to travel to Morocco for our 10 year wedding anniversary, a stay at Peacock Pavilions was a must.

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Designed by Montague and her architect husband Chris Redecke, Peacock Pavilions consists of a main house and two stand alone villas. We stayed for 3 nights and were lucky to have the Atlas Villa all to ourselves. IMG_4584

Peacock Pavilions is filled to the brim with Montague’s objets trouvés. Everywhere you look there are tassels, sequins, pottery, embroidery, feathers, carved wood, intricate tile work, and elaborate stencil designs. It is a veritable trove of Aladdin’s treasures. I was lucky enough to peak behind the doors, camera in hIMG_4984and…IMG_4567

Below is the gorgeous Golden Gazelles room we stayed in. J’adore the French poster and the luxurious stenciling behind the bed (based on a screen Maryam saw in a Christie’s catalog). Moroccan embroidered pillows and a vintage Kantha blanket make the bed pop while the African mud cloth fabric on the wood chairs are a nice contemporary accent. By keeping with the black and gold color theme, the different cultures and styles blend beautifully.

IMG_4533This is the view from the bed. What a marvelous fireplace! I could imagine cuddling up in this bed on a cold winter night. So romantic.IMG_4546This is the view from the rooftop patio above our bedroom. Throughout the day you can hear the call to prayer from the local mosque. Olive orchards surround the property and we enjoyed the delicious olive oil they produce from the trees each year.IMG_4745Here are some pictures from the main building. You enter Peacock Pavilions through these amazing rooms. I could spend hours looking at all the lovely and eclectic pieces (Egyptian driving glasses and Coptic crosses) in this collection.IMG_4578 IMG_4583 IMG_4586Maryam sells her treasures through the website Red Thread Souk. Here are some of the gorgeous Moroccan rugs on offer…IMG_4588If I had room in my suitcase I would have snapped a couple up. Morocco is frustrating in that way – too many beautiful pieces and not enough weight allowance in your luggage. But Maryam does ship internationally, so I may still buy one yet…IMG_4949And here are more lovely room shots…IMG_4974IMG_4596 IMG_4934IMG_4950 IMG_4963Drooling yet? Peacock Pavilions is all about the details. Inlaid antique door furniture, old Moroccan posters and French newspapers, jewelry hung as art… IMG_4975How about this tasseled saddle, old djellaba cape or hanging tasseled hoods? Have you noticed there are a lot of tassels at Peacock Pavilions?IMG_4923 IMG_4951Don’t you love the beautiful stenciled stairs and tile work on the floors of this kitchen?IMG_4970 IMG_4972The color and pattern mix at Peacock Pavilions is never overdone or too matchy-matchy which makes the decor feel fresh and not theatrical. The combined effect is totally inspiring. I came home and immediately started re-organizing my own travel collections. Isn’t that what travel does? Open your eyes to new possibilities?IMG_4572 IMG_4960 IMG_4967We hope you enjoyed our virtual Moroccan postcard and are inspired to new heights in global design chic. And if you get a chance, you really should visit…

Go to www.peacockpavilions.com

 

Marrakesh by Design – Moroccan Design Inspiration

I just received my copy of Maryam Montague’s Marrakesh by Design book in the mail, and I’m ready to sell everything and move to Morocco (especially since Portland is so drizzly right now). I’ve been a huge fan of Maryam’s blog: My Marrakesh for several years and it’s a thrill to read her gorgeous new book.

Peacock Pavilions (photo from website)

Ms. Montague is a human rights specialist who recently built a gorgeous boutique hotel – Peacock Pavilions – in Marrakesh, with her architect husband.  The book features her hotel as well as other inspiring Moroccan interiors.

Marayam Montague & Chris Redecke (Image by Elle Decor.)
Image: Holly Becker for decor8
Stenciled stairs. Image: Holly Becker for decor8

The book is broken down into three sections – Discovering/Living/Sourcing Moroccan design. It has several informative DIY guides on how to bring a Moroccan aesthetic into your home. There are great instructions on stenciling (floors and ceilings), as well as pointers on where to find the kinds of items that will add North African glamor to your home.

Image: Elle Decor
Image: Elle Decor

Montague does a great job of combining traditional Moroccan elements with modern design, and then tosses in eclectic pieces from her travels to mix things up. From Ikea pieces to gorgeous Moroccan wedding blankets, her design is fun, fresh, exotic and now! Get a copy of the book and prepare to be inspired.

Image: Holly Becker for decor8.
Image: Holly Becker for decor8
Image: Holly Becker for decor8
Photo: Lonny Magazine

Marrakesh by Design” by Maryam Montague, Artisan Books, $29.95 hardcover; 264 pages

Movie Tripping – Best African Films

Based on the book by Paul Bowles, this The Sheltering Sky is about two New York expats travelling in N. Africa after World War II. Port and Kit Moresby search for spiritual truth but it eludes them. Directed by the great Bernardo Bertolucci.

Is there anything more romantic than Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke in Out of Africa? This is a movie about Karen’s love affairs with Africa and the bad boy Denys Finch Hatton – both of which are too wild and beautiful to tame.

Shot on location in Kenya, The Constant Gardener is the story of  British diplomat Justin and wife Tessa who is found murdered on the shore of Lake Turkana. The story is a flashback of the intrigue that lead to her death. Rachel Weisz is great as an idealistic humanitarian. Based on the novel by John le Carre.

This is the story of a mysteriously burned english patie, his life, and affair with aristocrat Katharine Clifton; the result of which has tragic consequences. Gorgeous landscapes and acting.  Based on the magical book by Michael Ondaatje. The English Patient was shot in and around Tunisia and Italy.

Last King of Scotland – James MacAvoy

Last King of Scotland is the story of a young doctor whose youthful idealism is corrupted by the Ugandan President Idi Amin. Mixing fact with fiction, the movie follows the rise and moral descent of the dictator. Forest Whitaker won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Idi Amin.

Jaguar – Film by Jean Rouch

I haven’t seen this film since college, but Jaguar made a big impression on me as a young film student. Directed by Jean Rouch – an ethnographic filmmaker whose jump cut editing style was popularized by film director Jean Luc Godard. It stars Damouré Zika as a young Songhai man traveling for work to the Gold Coast. It has incredible energy.

What are your favorites? I’d love your suggestions.

Addis Ababa – A Sensory Delight

Wedding Mass at Trinity Cathedral - Addis Ababa
Wedding Mass at Trinity Cathedral - Addis Ababa

36 hours of traveling and we arrived in Addis Ababa. Not knowing what to expect, the city was full of surprises. Addis Ababa is the third highest capital in the world. With an altitude of 8300 feet, the climate is very temperate – staying in the 70s year round.

So besides curiosity, what prompted a trip to Ethiopia? Last month my cousin Kristen got married at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, where Haile Selassie is buried. The Ethiopian Orthodox mass started at 5am and lasted four hours long (much to my husband’s chagrin). It didn’t help matters that sitting was highly frowned upon. The service was like stepping back into Biblical times – women swathed in white veils, men leaning on prayers sticks and lots of sonorous chanting. Long yes, but lovely too.

Kristen & Natti's Wedding - Trinity Cathedral

We stayed at a local hotel called the Panorama.  It was comfortable but not fancy. We toured the city – visiting the National Museuem, St. George’s Cathedral (built in 1896 to commemorate the victory over Italy’s occupation) and the Ethiopian Ethnological Museum -Haile Selassie’s former palace, which had some nice displays on the history and culture of Ethiopia. 

Caffe Tomoca

One of my favorite stops was Caffe Tomoca. We enjoyed 30 cent shots of incredible espresso. History tells us Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee – supposedly discovered by an itinerant goat herder who brought newly discovered coffee berries to some monks. Thinking the berries the work of the Devil, they threw them into the fire and were startled by the fragrant smell.  The monks covered the burnt beans with water, and the first coffee was brewed(!)  I bought a couple of bags as gifts, and my husband insisted on keeping them (sorry friends!)  Now that we have family in Addis, I’ve got orders placed for more.

So how was the food?  Like most people, I’ve eaten Ethiopian food in LA and Portland, but let me tell you, it doesn’t come close the real thing. 

Delish dinner at Habesha!

First of all, the flavors are more savory and the heat from the peppers, more intense.  My cousin’s rehearsal dinner was held at Habesha, which was recently touted in a New York times article.  The dinner started with a lovely hand washing ritual, followed by a distribution of St. George’s beer and tej – Ethiopian honey wine. Dinner was piled on injera – dishes such as doro wet (chicken stewed in onions, chile and ginger) and shiro (yellow pea puree) amongst others flavored with berbere (the ground mixture of chiles, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves). Accompanying the dinner were some amazing singers and dancers busting moves I had never seen before. Before the night was over, a number of our group got pulled in for a twirl.

Addis Ababa was truly a surprise. Best of all the people were really friendly.  While there are few foreigners in the city, we were certainly welcomed.

Memories I will take with me – the perfume of Frankincense burning on coals, the thin dry Addis air, the delightfully spicy flavor of berbere, and the divine smell of freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee. አመሰግናለሁ [ameseg’nalehu] – thank you Ethiopia!