Category Archives: Shopping in Morocco

Global Style: Necklace Displays

In the Marrakech souks, I was drawn to these chunky beaded and silver necklaces — you can see big displays of these everywhere in the souks:

Beaded Necklaces in Marrakech Souks

Yeah, I know it’s hard to focus here, there’s so much to see. It got overwhelming because everywhere you turned, there were scenes like this. I was able to focus and find a few things to buy in this shop, which was my first experience with negotiating in the Marrakech souks. Even though I probably still paid way too much, this man was nice and made the experience fun! It was like bargaining anywhere else, especially in Thailand where they make it a fun game.

Marrakech Souk Shopkeeper

But I didn’t buy any necklaces. Why? I know I wouldn’t ever wear them. Often we see things on vacation that are great in that vacation setting, but when we get back home to our regular lives, these things just don’t fit. The colors don’t go in our house, the style doesn’t go with our everyday work clothes, etc. It’s like getting back to the reality of our lives, versus what we’d like our lives to be when we’re on vacation. Maybe I’d like to be a bohemian babe who wears piles of these necklaces with caftans and I drift barefoot along long sunlit hallways all day, caftan fabric flowing and chunky beads clanking.

That is a magazine shoot. Or an Instagram shoot, more likely nowadays! It is not me or my real life. More likely I’m in a beige office in a basic all-black outfit, responding to email, or reading and highlighting a scientific paper and writing lots of notes in the margins, before I run to the next meeting of the day.

So. Felt like a fantasy just came crashing down there.

So I did not buy chunky beaded necklaces in the Marrakesh souks. But one night there, while at Le Tanjia restaurant, I spotted something. Something on the wall:

Le Tanjia Framed Necklace

My apologies the photo is so bad, but Le Tanjia is lit entirely with pierced metal lanterns so the atmosphere is dark and shadowy, and I may have had several strong mojitos before snapping this!

But you get the idea. Necklaces can be works of art. So why not treat them like works of art? Why not frame them and hang them? You can use shadowboxes for thick beaded necklaces like this. Here’s a few more framed necklaces I found online — this framed look is especially good with tribal necklaces with big style and personalities. These are from Neiman Marcus (left) and Amalthee Creations (right):

Framed Necklaces from Neiman Marcus and Amalthee Creations

Choose simple frames and matting to let the necklace be the visual focus.

You can drape necklaces on a vintage dress form. Put a plain dress or tunic on the dress form so the spotlight is on the necklace. This necklace was sold by Etsy shop MorningDoveDesign:

Necklace on Vintage Dress Form from Etsy Shop MorningDoveDesign

It appears these necklaces have sold, but this Etsy shop has many other beaded necklaces.

You could go crazy-nutso and pile a whole bunch of necklaces on a small vintage-style dress form that’s sized to display necklaces on a dresser or tabletop:

Necklace Display on Tabletop Dress Form

You could also pile beaded necklaces in bowls. Here’s a pile of old beaded necklaces I spotted in a bowl at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanical Gardens:

Beads Piled in a Bowl

For a neutral look, here are strung African beads piled in a rustic industrial bowl that I saw at Randolph Street Market in Chicago years ago:

African Beads in Rustic Industrial Bowl

If these were turquoise, amber or carnelian color beads, the color pop could be really interesting.

If you come back from a vacation with jewelry that you feel doesn’t fit into your regular everyday life, try framing it or piling it in a bowl. Or display it some other way. This way, whenever you look at the jewelry, you can get the vacation fantasy and feeling back in your life, if even for a moment!

I seem to make a Pinterest Board for everything, and I made a board to collect ideas for displaying necklaces. Check it out for more ideas:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Necklace Displays on Pinterest.

 



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Global Style Tips from the Famous Trésor des Nomades Shop in Marrakech

There’s an unassuming door at 142-144 rue Bab Doukkala in the Marrakech medina:

Mustapha Blaoui Entrance via Dar Zaman

photo courtesy of Dar Zaman

Like many Moroccan doors, it gives no clue of what it guards. You are unaware of the visual feast that will hit you once you step through it. But only two steps in and you already see something like this:

Entrance to Mustapha Blaoui Shop

I’m sure the scene is ever-changing but that’s what greeted our group when we arrived in early November 2014. Step around the corner and the full impact is unleashed on you:

Mustapha Blaoui Shop in Marrakech

That’s only one small corner of a maze of many rooms. Proprietor Mustapha Blaoui has filled nearly every inch of Trésor des Nomades with  inspiration  and imagination. Your senses are hit with patterns, shapes, colors, textures and a mish-mash of cultures and things antique and modern, all mixed together.

I could have lingered there for days. If I could have hidden in a cabinet and been locked in there overnight to play with all the things without risk of being arrested, I might have. Instead I squeezed in a purchase of Mali mud cloth, then snapped photos like a crazy tourist, experiencing much of the store through an iPhone screen. All to share with you here. I will have to go back some day, sans phone — but who are we kidding I’d probably do the same thing, try to capture the whole store in my phone again. Don’t even try. The place is so big and fantastic, just enjoy it for what it is and don’t try to wrap your arms around it all!

But what my phone brought back are creative global style tips we can use in our homes …

TIP: Add textiles to chairs

My suitcases often come home from overseas trips filled with fabrics. Textiles are affordable and more importantly, lightweight and easy to pack in carry-on or check-in luggage. Perhaps you have only a strip of a treasured textile, which is common with handmade textiles found while traveling. It’s okay, work with it and use it to upholster down the middle of a chair:

Strip of Textile on Upholstered Chair in Mustapha Blaoui Shop

If you have a large enough textile, upholster an entire piece with it. Be brave — here you see chairs in the Mustapha Blaoui shop covered with brightly-colored “cactus silk” fabrics you find in Marrakech. I most often see this cactus silk as scarves and shawls but if the fabric is strong enough (or you give it a stronger backing), there’s no reason to not use it on furniture:

Cactus Silk Covered Chairs at Mustapha Blaoui Shop

Here are mud cloth covered chairs. I used the mud cloth I bought at Mustapha Blaoui to recover a mid century modern chair — to be revealed soon!

 Mud Cloth Covered Chair at Mustapha Blaoui Store

Mud Cloth Upholstery at Mustapha Blaoui in Marrakech

Mud Cloth Upholstery

I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like this fabric could have been a blanket, now upholstering a chair:

Upholstered Chair at Les Tresor du Nomades in Marrakech

TIP: Be wild with patterns

We all have our tolerances for mixing patterns. In Morocco the tolerance is pretty high. Be brave and push yourself a bit further. You see some pattern mixes in the above photos. Here’s a little tip to make pattern mixing work for you. This little corner is jam-packed with pattern in the carpet, the chair, the cabinet. What makes the patterns work together is the common colors in the red, natural colors and black. The chair, rug and cabinet each have natural and black in them. The rug adds some extra color in the red:

Patterns at Mustapha Blaoui Store

TIP: Think in multiples, lots and LOTS of multiples

Usually we will pick one little specimen of something we like. We put it on a shelf with all our other onesie-twosies. But imagine the drama of a collection of many! Things like baskets can be nested one inside the other to make it easier to pack them in luggage. You can even squeeze clothes and toiletries in them to make room in your bags. These little beaded heads were small enough to bring a bunch home. Small things have greater visual impact when there’s many of them. You may even be able to negotiate a better discount when buying many:

Beaded Heads and Woven Baskets at Les Tresor de Nomades Mustapha Blaoui

There are three different mud cloths on this sofa. Imagine if the back, seat and pillows were made of the same mud cloth. It would be a sea of sameness. But now mixing the patterns big and small, and white and black backgrounds, see what I mean about working with multiples. Plus imagine this scene with only one head. Wouldn’t it be lonely? It needs others, many others:

Mud Cloth and Beaded Heads in Mustapha Blaoui Shop in Marrakech

TIP: LOOK UP AND HANG SOMETHING INTERESTING UP THERE

Don’t forget your ceilings. One way to make them interesting is to hang unique lighting. We saw many examples of unique lights at Mustapha Blaoui:

Moroccan Pierced Metal Lanterns

Squeeze even more impact out of your lighting by hanging big mirrors which reflects the lights and makes them show up in multiples (another way to carry out the “multiples” tip):

Colorful Lighting at Tresor de Nomades in Marrakech

Sequin Light in Mustapha Blaoui Store

My pierced metal Moroccan lantern I found in Marrakech is curvy like these. It’s hanging in my Indian-Moroccan closet nook (also to be revealed soon, I’ve fallen behind on blogging):

Pierced Metal Moroccan Lanterns at Mustapha Blaoui Shop

A lot of people asked “How are you going to get a lamp home?” Choose an oblong or rectangular shape lamp instead of a round one. My lamp is shaped like the curvy oblong ones above and I had no problem fitting it in a regular size suitcase with plenty of room left over. It was even heavily bubble-wrapped.

 

Overall what I liked about the global mix in Trésor des Nomades was the brave pairing of colors, textures, patterns and shapes. Mix curves with straight lines. Put metal against wood. Pair textiles with beads. Contrast in the textures and shapes makes little interesting scenes to look at. As a parting shot, I often like the quieter things not the flashy things. I appreciated this curvy metal candleholder against the carved wood behind it:

Morocco Patterns and Shapes

 



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