When most people hear the name Morocco, they probably think of the film “Casablanca”, or of the bouncy ’60s tune “Marrakesh Express”. Morocco is much more than these, of course. However, when you are considering home decor, you want to evoke that sense of ancient mystery. Whether you yourself are of Moroccan ancestry, live in a desert area, or you just like the way it looks, you can give your rooms the romantically exotic flair of traditional Moroccan style.
Of course, Moroccan styles look best in a home whose interior architecture lends itself to the graceful curves and patterns of the East. But any room can be transformed with a few simple touches. All it takes is a little ingenuity and a bit of knowledge about Moroccan decor. The key points to remember are rich contrasting colors, attention to detail and respect for nature.
Many people begin with silk or cotton fabric suspended from the walls and ceiling to suggest a tent. Deep blue, red, purple, green and gold are typical colors. Stripes or solid colors can be used. Centuries ago, Moorish scholars made intensive studies of the effects of color and light on the mind. Everywhere you look; your eyes should be drawn to beauty and harmony, with a touch of mystery suggesting the spiritual dimension.
Rugs and Tapestries
Moroccan rugs are very important in creating the proper atmosphere. They are traditionally woven from sheep’s wool and goat hair, and colored with natural plant dyes. They are used for floor coverings, blankets, burial shrouds and saddle blankets. They can be hung on the wall as decorative tapestries. The patterns vary from simple, almost modernistic lines to explosions of color. These traditional Moroccan rugs are still made and not difficult to find.
Fretwork and Mosaics
Moroccan art makes use of light, color and geometric pattern to create harmonious beauty. Doors, windows and mirrors are usually framed with intricate designs. Fretwork, complex designs carved in wood, is a very common element. Fretwork shutters can cover windows, letting in alluring bits of light. Free-standing room dividers can also be carved with fretwork designs.
Mosaics are not just for decoration in the Islamic world. They are also mathematical designs, often involving complex fractals. The mastery of mosaic work requires intense discipline. Some consider mosaics a form of prayer. Moroccan style mosaics differ from those in other parts of the Arab world by incorporating elements from pre-Islamic North Africa and Spain, where the Moors ruled for seven centuries.
Lighting is very important in Moroccan decor. In Islam as in Judaeo-Christianity, God is the light of heaven and earth. In ancient times, houses were built to maximize natural light. Lamps are made of wrought iron, bronze and copper. Fretted shades shower patterns of light on walls and ceilings. Ceiling, floor and table lamps are all traditional.
The bath is considered one of the most important parts of one’s day in traditional Morocco. The public bath, called a hammam, is really more like a spa. Your home bathroom should be similarly devoted to personal self-care and relaxation. Tiling can be mosaic work or simply painted in abstract designs. Towels and mats should be rich solid colors or stripes. Use rich Moroccan soap and citrus scented oils.