Atelier Nihal is a gem in Marrakesh, Morocco. They are a new design company which has adapted local skills and evolved with the times. Founder Marion Verdier, is known for her tasteful selection of woven textiles, as she works with a playful combination of synthetic leather, wool, taffeta, seed beads, and pearls. Weaves are fashioned into an elegant collection of pillows, handbags, clutches, poufs, and curtains, all manufactured out of her workshop, in the up and coming industrial area of Sidi Ghanem, located in central Marrakesh. Marion’s business developed from her background in fashion, love for textiles, and admiration of handmade goods.
In 2000, Marion took a leap and moved to Marrakesh from Paris. Prior to relocating, she was a stylist for a French magazine and Morocco was simply a place she loved to visit. “When traveling to this country, I was always inspired by the traditional weaving and fine craftsmanship. I was captivated by each region, as they are all known for a unique artisan skill and technique."
Atelier Nihal is a prime example of a company where traditional meets modern. Nihals’ product line is constantly changing, and each piece is produced by a skilled team of Marrakchi artisans. “The design process is collaborative because I often get new inspiration from the artisans. They share their skills and I share my eye for design.”
Nihal’s signature totes and clutches are handcrafted, using finely woven synthetic leather bands which are perfectly cut out of buttery soft strips of leather. “This idea came from all of the artisans’ experimentation. They produced a small sample and from there, the concept continued to develop into the final marketable bag. All designs stem from traditional weaving techniques. It is often only the materials, textures, and embellishments which vary.” Her product line is offered in an array of warm and neutral shades of browns, gold, shimmery whites, and silver.
Marion currently employs a staff of twelve male artisans. She states, “I first employed two brothers and eventually, I was able to hire their uncles and closely related family members. Over time, we have built a solid level of trust and this is priceless. I am so fortunate. I also work with a few “melham,” which are also known as the masters. They teach our team and help me come up with new ideas.” All artisans in Nihal’s workshop use simple wooden handlooms and work with fibers including hubba, which is a recognized by its nubby texture, and resembles the country's famous semolina dish, aka couscous. While walking the souks in the ancient medinas of Morocco, you will often find this wool woven into a traditional jillaba, which is a long and loose fitting outer robe, traditionally worn by Berber men. Susdi is another favorite woolen fiber of Marion's, which is made out of a combination of cotton and rayon and adored for its softness.
If you ever journey to the exotic city of Marrakesh, make sure to visit Nihal’s workshop, where weaving becomes magic and traditional techniques are elegantly transformed.