Inspired by a Moroccan Artist’s Colony

My workdays are full of logic, science, and project management. The bit of art during the day is about the communications we create to influence people. So by nightfall, I’m looking for balance in visual arts. One reason I went to Marrakech in 2014 was to get surrounded by beauty, to get inspired to create visual things I hadn’t thought of doing before.

An inspiring place was the Al Maqam artist’s colony in Tahanaout, about a half hour drive outside Marrakech on the way to the Atlas Mountains. A New York Times article tells you more about the place. 

A lot of doors and windows caught my eye there, and the NYT article mentions that the founder of the colony bought old doors and windows at Morocco flea markets and gradually built the compound room by room.

Al Maqam Artist Colony Stone Window Wood Carved Door

Al Maqam Artist Colony

Old Moroccan Wood Door

Maybe that’s how we’re going to decorate the India pied-à-terre, bit by bit from pieces from here and there. 

Here’s more photos from the artist’s colony, decorated as you might expect — creative, eclectic, lots of interesting proportions, playing with balance, and curious collections of objects. I spent too much time there looking at the place through my iPhone, I think now, but at least I captured these.

Clearly I had a fascination with their doors. But my doors at home in the American Midwest don’t look like this, so it was like get an eye-full of these fantastic doors while you can:

A Moroccan Door

Do  you see stencil patterns there? I do!

Lots of color and style in a little courtyard seating area:

Moroccan Artist Colony Courtyard Seating

It’s just a simple bench. But the shabby paint job, the fabric on the too-big cushion, all a perfect boho combo:

Boho Bench Morocco

The kitchen and all its collections:

Moroccan Artist Colony Kitchen

I liked this collection of frames, maybe collected over time but all coordinated. So don’t get too super matchy-matchy, mis-match a bit:

Morocco Picture Frames

Frames like these don’t have to cost a lot. I’ve found frames very similar to these at Target and HomeGoods.

Yes. These are what you might think they are. We asked:


They were in a corner of a dining room. Told you. Eclectic. Creative.

Stylists, designers, bloggers and instagrammers all over the U.S. are doing this mix-matched textile boho-licious look with piles of pillows. Perhaps this place is an original for this:

Pile of Moroccan Pillows

There was no time spent on creating a “just enough carelessness” look. (I know how photo shoots and styling can be!) That’s just how the pillows were.

Here I back up a bit. There’s the shabby simple bench, a carved door used as a table (!!!), and the full effect of all the pillows and patterns:

Moroccan Seating

And the always-present wine glasses. Of which I had too much on an empty stomach before lunch and photos got fuzzy after awhile.

Just a pile of posts against a wall. I liked the composition. Or maybe this was because of the wine. Whatever. Enjoy:

Posts in Moroccan Artists Colony

I have a pile of wood posts leaning against our house in the backyard right now, and I assure you, it definitely doesn’t have any artistic effect. So I say appreciate this — it’s not easy to make a pile of posts look attractive!

A little eclectic composition of things:

Garden Composition in Moroccan Artist Colony

I’d like to create this effect with some old things just lying around my living room. But in my hands, they might look like things that I was too lazy to move down to the basement, so there they sit.

Pots. Wall. Window grates. Each by themselves, no big deal. But together, a stunning combo, I think:

Moroccan Style

All these pieces added up to an inspiring creative space. It’s a big place – we got a tour through many indoor and outdoor rooms and this is just a glimpse. What stands out to me are the contrasts, the textures, the collections, the colors. You can take bits and pieces of ideas and weave them into your own space.

Because there’s too much to capture in photos, here is a video with the founder. It shows scenes of the compound and art through to the end, and you get a good idea of the place:

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