Morocco is a country in North Africa; it has Spain to it’s north, Mauritania and Western Sahara to the south, Algeria to the east. It is the European gateway to Africa with a large history of imports and exports between Europe, Morocco, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The location of Morocco is undoubtedly a reason that the design within the country is so unique, however there are also other reasons as well.
Morocco has a blending of different cultures; Arabs, Berbers, Spanish, and French- each contributes it’s own flavor to the eclectic and colorful design that is so noticeable within the country.
The term Moor relates to people that are indigenous to North Africa and originally traces back to indigenous Maghrebine Berbers, however it is also used to describe Arabs as well. The term Moorish, in relation to design and architecture, is used to describe what originated from the western Islamic world. This brought rise to the style of Moorish arches and intricate, colorful tile work called zellij (mosaic) or azulejo (tin glazed ceramic).
Another aspect of Moroccan design is a type of marquetry which is heavily influenced by the Islamic world. Marquetry is a specific wood inlay type of design.
Moorish/ Islamic influences are the most noticeable aspects of Moroccan interior design and architecture.
What you will first notice upon entry into a hotel, or even the home of a local, are the bright colors and patterns, mosaic tiles, pillows and furniture with contrasting colors, extravagant rugs, silk fabrics, and intricate wood inlay- all at once. It seems like too much for the eyes to take in, yet somehow they do, and once your brain is done processing the colors and detail you are left in a comfortable daze. Welcome to the design of Morocco.
The Spanish influence is noticeable in the north and coastal cities in Morocco with the main feature being white stucco walls. Sidi Ifni is a good example of the Spanish architectural influence in Morocco; it is full of Spanish protectorate era buildings with flat white walls and art-deco design.
We’ve discussed some of the components of Moroccan design, but not the whole picture. What makes Moroccan design so unique is the way it is carefully put together; an eclectic mix of patterns, color, and arches that somehow form a united and aesthetically pleasing effect when combined.