Marrakesh By Design

The colors, patterns and magic of Morocco

Maryam Montague is passionate about design. Her destination, lifestyle, and design blog, My Marrakesh, chronicles that ardor for Morroco and its distinctive look. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s taken all her Moroccan design know-how and turned it into a striking book with DIY instruction in Marrakesh by Design: Decorating with all the Colors, Patterns, and Magic of Morocco (Artisan Books, 2012).

Montague offers numerous DIY projects for novices and experts, and provides the four main secrets of Moroccan style: embrace color; mix patterns, pay attention to details, and incorporate a little magic.

Divided into three parts, Montague first introduces readers to the building blocks of Moroccan design and its Islamic, Spanish and French external influences behind its architecture. From the world of Islam, design influences can be seen in Morocco’s geometric floral patterned tiles, as well as its fountains. From the Spanish, Morocco incorporated overlapping roof tiles, cusped and horseshoe arches, and its famous Andalusian gardens. The French protectorate that was established in 1912, instituted building regulations to preserve and protect Morocco’s “Oriental Charm”.

Chapters in this first section are broken down to exploring the many types of architecture and their many distinguishing features like inner courtyard gardens, arches—both inside and outside—domes, intricately designed doors, and fountains that are in many instances integrated into home interiors.

Among the decorative finishes for floors, walls and ceilings, Montague writes of the specific applications for the different surfaces and we learn of the flooring methods used whether it’s dess (polished cement) or tile (bejmat or cement that come in several patters). A bonus in this chapter (and in other chapters) is a step-by-step DIY how to install Moroccan cement tile floor.

Color and dye aficionados will enjoy the chapter detailing the Moroccan color palette. Saturated hues are used generously and as Montague notes, “Color in Morocco has been a constant from ancient times until today.” Colors used in Moroccan style include many of the varying shades of primary colors along with whites, blacks and beiges. Montague writes of where the colors originated, their most common use, and their symbolism. For indigo she notes of how it’s believed to deflect the evil eye and often used on doors or in jewelry.

Playing and mixing patterns are not for the meek. Lively patterns explode on the walls, floors, doors and furnishings in Moroccan homes that create an eye-popping effect. In this last chapter, Montague breaks down the different patterns: basic geometric, floral and calligraphy and how they’re used on walls, floors and upholstery.

Parts II and III take a micro view of the specific living areas and intended to provide ideas of how to incorporate the basics of Moroccan style into your own home. The book’s conclusion offers key Moroccan furnishings and decorative objects as well as resources for shopping, design, but also specialists and and experts on Moroccan design.

Apart from the design elements and the spectacular photography, Montague includes informative snippets on language, culture, history, customs and even snake charmers! Marrakesh by Design is the ideal book for anyone with an eye for the exotic, who isn’t afraid of color and patterns and loves DIY projects.

Marrakesh by Design: Decorating with all the Colors, Patterns, and the Magic of Morocco (Artisan Books, 2012) can be purchsed on



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