Recently, I traveled to the mystical and ancient city of Marrakesh. Exotic, stimulating, over-the-top and oftentimes completely otherworldly, Marrakesh is nothing but inspiration. From the centuries-old medina to the souks filled with nearly 22,000 vendors, experiencing the best designed environments, combing through the endless array of stalls and seeking out the best treasures was not easy in my shortvisit, but I made the most of it.
If you can make it to Marrakesh, you’ll never forget it. Like anywhere special that you travel to, I suggest you come prepared with key measurements and an extra suitcase. A home should be a physical manifestation of you and your journeys, so do a little research ahead of time. Have a basic understanding of what the locals at your destination excel at crafting, and be prepared to haul some treasures home.
If Marrakesh is nowhere on your map of future travel plans, you can still find plenty of relatively inexpensive ways to infuse that Moroccan spirit into your home through U.S. stores selling items that bring Marrakesh to you. (See sidebar.)
I always aim for maximum design inspiration on my trips and one easy way to ensure that is to choose a local accommodation that has a thoughtful, culturally inculcated and well-executed design itself. I found inspiration at Amanjena, a hotel owned by the Aman hotel group, which showcases the best of local handicrafts and design traditions. A plethora of arched openings, water basins, candle sconces and overscale lanterns with intricate metal screens all provide design 101 on iconic Moroccan aesthetics.
At Amanjena, less is oftentimes much more, and it’s hard to appreciate that when you’re negotiating your way through the narrow, vendor-filled paths of the souks. One benefit of staying at a well-edited hotel with an eye for design is that it becomes easier to see how those items you’ve been coveting might look installed in your own home. A hotel outfitted with local handicrafts, for example, can provide valuable insight into how that locally made duvet looks on a bed or how those three-foot-tall candle lanterns look flanking a fireplace.
As a design enthusiast looking for out-of-this-world inspiration, I couldn’t help but stop at Majorelle Garden. Resurrected by fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent and his life partner, Pierre Berge, Majorelle Garden originally belonged to French painter Jacques Majorelle, who arrived in Marrakesh in 1919 to recover from illness.