My exposure to Moroccan architecture and design accents was, until last week, limited to what I’ve seen in Disney’s Epcot and any given West Elm catalogue. For whatever discernable reason, Moroccan-style has been trending in the design world, my guesses to that being because it embraces a desirable mix of modern-industrial cement and stone, and all of the colors of the rainbow in a way you don’t see in traditional American decor. The ability to match ornate accents, like hand carved cedar and hand painted tiles, with amazing geometric design and vibrant colors is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s no wonder consumers are going ga-ga for Moroccan touches wherever they can get their hands on it, but it’s still a bit different than the interpretative pieces we can buy retail.
We saw (and appreciated) a lot of beautiful things during our travels, so today I’m sharing some of them, like this:
The hotels themselves were ornate. We split our days between our gorgeous hotel room, and the bar at the neighboring hotel (not as random as it sounds, it’s where the bride/groom/her family were staying). Both hotels featured an extreme level of detail in their respective design, beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, and enviable Café au lait.
Our hotel room was pretty classy. We didn’t set out to find a top-tier hotel for our stay or anything, only choosing Club Val D Anfa because it was both affordable, in the vacinity of where our friends were staying, rated as being accommodating for “business travelers,” and accepted online reservations via Expedia (1% cash back through Lucky Magazine Rewards, high-five). It was reasonably modern – we weren’t sure what to expect (I try never to let online reviews convince me that it’ll be a stellar experience), but it did have card security for room entry, and it was technologically advanced enough that the lighting in the room required the card to function. Light switches wouldn’t work unless the card was input into a wall-mounted card reader, which initiated electricity. It was a pretty room, with lots of light and herringbone marble tile:
One of the most interesting things we learned about Moroccan architecture is that walls are commonly built using Tadelakt, a Moroccan Lime Plaster that’s preferable in humid environments, like the hammam (public bath), and even in our bedroom, hence the shiny walls in the above picture. It’s a super smooth texture, very silky and glossy to the touch.
The ceiling had exquisite inset cedar detailing. This accent flowed through the hallways of our hotel too, a really striking design feature that I’d love to be able to replicate someday, somewhere.
The bed was great too; it featured hand carved headboard and metallic accents. And the authentic carpets? Amazing in person, intricately woven, and way more colorful than anything “moroccan-inspired” that I’ve seen accessible via retail in the USA.
There were two small area rugs in our room. The one shown above looked like this from above, a complete rainbow of colors to accent the otherwise neutral walls and bedding:
The other rug in the room had more shag to it, but was equally as colorful.
Our view, as I’ve mentioned, was an unobstructed view of the Atlantic and the beach, fully occupied by umbrellas and soccer players:
The neighboring hotel that housed our friends, in contrast, had keyed room entry managed by the front desk – they had to turn in their key when leaving the property, which isn’t something I’ve ever seen. In any case, the keychains were beautiful. One (not photographed) was ornate wood, the other was heavy metal:
One of the most magnificent of sights happened our very first day in Casablanca, when we took a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque, the tallest and one of the largest mosques in the world. I still haven’t found a good way of explaining exactly how amazingly huge the mosque is, it’s one of those have-to-see-it-in-person phenomenons, but the details within and surrounding it were mind blowing.
Everywhere, hand laid tile and hand carved cedar.
Outside, tile-coated benches lined the perimeter of the mosque, and common Casablanca apartments stood in the background.
Inside, it was grand, many football fields in length. These pictures don’t do it justice. It was so big that there was no echo, and not an unadorned surface in sight, everything hand carved, hand laid, and hand painted:
The ceiling was opened periodically to ventilate the mosque (pretty high tech as far as mosques go, I understand); as the mosque was located on the ocean, it couldn’t be left open all the time, but it happened to be when we were there, letting in so much light that you actually didn’t believe you were outside.
I can’t stress enough how amazing some of these accents were. The hand carved railings were immaculate, the chandeliers were gigantic, and little would you know that because it was a modern mosque (built in the late 80′s-early 90′s), a hidden audio system was integrated into the columns to echo the call for prayer. And the light bulbs were all CFL, WTG.
I really liked this curved staircase in the mosque, walls lined with hand painted tile.
We liked to watch construction around town too, spending time in the morning from our balcony watching a neighboring crew work to repair an old hotel; we have a hunch that the first floor was complete and open as a event hall (there was a wedding overflowing into the alley one night) but during the days a small team installed marble around the doorways.
And the infinity pool at our hotel was a pretty sight:
As was the landscaping and potted plants:
Inside most homes and restaurants in Morocco, the decor shown in the next picture was commonplace. Heavy, layered curtains filtered the sun, and couches surround three walls of the room, also often serving also as beds and dining chairs. Homes in Morocco are small except for those owned by the highest class; it’s an amazing way of living, and makes one very thankful to be able to own a three bedroom house.
The restaurants, in contrast, were often open air, bright, and airy. Some, this like ocean-side restaurant that Pete and I ate breakfast at one day, adopted a more modern aesthetic.
We didn’t take many photos as we toured town, but this one I snapped happened to catch some pretty geometric railings.
It’s been so hard to narrow down our 900 photos into digestible posts for you guys, and I still have one more topic to focus on: the souvenirs. Will be back soon to highlight some of the fun things we bought on vacation.