To be invited to travel to Marrakesh is to be invited to a paradise of creativity.
Your eyes and feet wander; your senses are challenged with a variety of palettes consisting of colors, smells, sounds and sights. You either want to experience it all, or run out and relax in one of its luxury resorts far from the buzz and heat of the city. It is in the heart of the medina and the souks where you’ll find the most inspiring craftspeople.
The old inner city is divided into different quarters with each its own craft. There is the souk of leather, with belts, bags and lots of colored pointed leather slippers called babouches. There is a souk for herbs, the souk for metalwork, of pottery, of carpets. They all have their own section, but they intermingle here and there. And in between the shops and workshops, you’ll find behind closed doors—hidden from the streets—the riads, hammams and restaurants.
Your senses are overwhelmed when you stroll through the streets; you are on a path of discovery; an adventure within a web of alleys. You lose yourself and all sense of direction, and when you do and let go, you discover true treasures. It is 1001 nights in a few days. On one of these walks I discovered the shop Chez Monsieur Michelin, not far from the Jemaâ el Fna Square. On the rue Riad Zitoun el Kédim, artisans recycle inner tubes and transform them into picture frames and baskets.
Chez Monsieur Michelin stands out from its neighboring colleagues, who also rework and transform inner tubes. At Chez Monsieur Michelin the recycling work is stylish and intelligent. The craftmanship has a certain refinement never seen in tire recycling until now. The man behind this chic tube-recycling venture is Thierry Coudert, a French artist, painter, musician and globetrotter. Born in Clermont Ferrand, France, the hometown of tire manufacturer Michelin, Coudert traveled the world, but when he arrived to Marrakesh it was like a homecoming and it was in Marrakesh where Coudert’s dreams materialized.
The Moroccans with their vivid imagination nicknamed him Mr. Michelin and soon he was offered a shop in rue Riad Zitoun el Kédim, where Chez Monsieur Michelin was born. From that first day when he opened the doors to his shop one and one-half years ago, sales were outstanding. He loves to make products that travel with women: bags, which give women something to hold on to and cherish. The inner tube bag was the beginning. Other products soon followed: lamps, baskets with refined decorative pattern cuttings. There is a chair from recycled inner tubes and curtains. Nothing is impossible. There is also a jewelry line consisting of necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
This abundance of creative possibilities is the reason why so many artists—many of whom are originally from France—have settled here and work now in Marrakesh together with the local craftspeople. It is a happy marriage that gives value to both. It is a cross-cultural city; where opposites meet in harmony, and the new comes to life. It’s the heart of nomadic living where the designer meets the artisan and they work together; where cultures mix and create new ones. Marrakesh is a marriage of the old and new, of north and south, east and west, young and old, creative and commercial. And while the marriage blossoms new creatures see the light.