How to spend it . Sunday times October 24 2016
Our store is the antithesis of the crowded souk,” says Monique Bresson, who with Yehia Abdelnour runs 33 Rue Majorelle in the flourishing Gueliz district. This delightful two-storey space fuses the made by hands skills of the Medina with the chic, calm aura of Paris boutiques such as Colette and Merci. “We specialise in modern takes on classic Moroccan crafts,” says Abdelnour of the wares by over 90 different artisans – from ceramics and paintings to design-led fashion and beauty products. “Under one roof you’ll find all the vibrant talents that exist in Morocco today, from both local master craftsmen who work with traditional techniques and foreign designers who have moved here.”
Bresson’s eye for emerging and established talent – honed during her years as the buyer for the boutique at the nearby Amanjena resort – results in “harmonies of colour and texture that are partitioned into spare, little corners, each telling a designer’s specific story.” From Atelier Nihal, for example, there are handwoven jacquard babouches (from Dh310, about £24) and leather pochettes (about £40-£125); Chez Zoé, which has a boutique in the city’s sleek La Mamounia Hotel , offers simple cotton djellabas and pyjamas (about £55-£87); while local design star Noureddine Amir’s delicately embroidered tunics (about £158-£435) would pair beautifully with the statement-making, Berber-inspired brass jewellery (about £35-£55) by Australian expat brother-sister team Hamimi.
The range of homewares is equally tactile and tempting: Moroccan mint tea glasses (about £9 for a set of six) are made from recycled green glass by Beldi Country Club in contemporary shapes, and black and white patterned pottery (vases, about £31, coffee cups, about £10) by No.m Création is juxtaposed with patterned Plexiglas trays (about £63) by Le Collectif, Abdelnour’s own line that cannot be sourced elsewhere. Other hard-to-find pieces include carpets by Djeann (about £474-£632) that refashion torn strips of denim and hemp fabric into geometric designs, and embroidered vintage photographs (about £205) by BD Interiors, which line the store’s white walls. Particularly popular with holiday-makers are the striking crocheted Hamimi lanterns (about £71-£205) “in hues that vary with the seasons, from wintry greys to stripes for spring,” says Bresson, pointing out that they are “foldable, so can be brought home easily”.
Less suitcase friendly, however, is the series of huge and intriguing metal cacti (about £237-£2,370) by artisan collective Orenzo, which are hand-painted to yield the perfect patina. But there is one element of 33 Rue Majorelle that won’t impact your luggage allowance: the bright and contemporary 16 Kawa Café, which specialises in pâtisserie orientale and organic juices – and is just the spot to take in all the woven, embroidered, henna-painted and sculpted joy this space exudes.