Last month, Meissen, the legendary German luxury brand known for its porcelain, opened a flagship store in Beijing, a moment that the CEO Christian Kurtzke referred to as “coming home.” When King Augustus of Saxony founded Meissen over 300 years ago, Qing dynasty China exported fine porcelain to European aristocracy for whom porcelain or “china” was de rigueur. In order to create Meissen, King Augustus, an admirer of Asian and Ottoman art, had to bring an alchemist back to Dresden from exile in order to develop the European technique for porcelain production.
We are proud to announce that Meryanne’s boutique is coming back, opening with a flourish on the 15th of December! This new edition resonates with the inspired creativity that Meryanne has brought to Marrakech over the last 28 years. She first came to Morocco in 1985 to design a house for her mother in the Marrakech Palmeraie, the chic oasis neighborhood outside the walls of the historic Medina. This architectural delight was met with such intense media coverage in international design magazines that the Parisian lawyer gave in to temptation, switched careers and threw herself heart and soul into her lifelong passion for design and architecture. This set her on a path to become a pioneer in establishing exclusive luxury villas, restoring riads and creating boutique hotels in Marrakech, merging exceptional private accommodation with cultural and culinary experiences.
Growing up at Jnane Tamsna had its perks. As a kid, I’d go on lengthy bike rides through the palm grove accompanied by my trusty dogs to discover our surroundings. But I did not even have to leave our property to expand my horizons. When I was in the 4th grade, I would run up the stairs of the Moussafir Pavillion as soon as I got back from school. Once at the top, I’d look down from the rooftop terrace into the garden, where painter Phillipe Deltour would be crouched over a large canvas spread out on the ground. At that time, the Belgian artist was using charcoal to draw on recycled cement bag paper. Having always had a passion for art, I just loved being perched on the roof watching him work until the sun went down.
Though our calm haven in the Marrakech Palmeraie is the only place we would chose to live in Morocco, weekend escapades are always a breath of fresh air. The last couple times we ventured to Casablanca, we visited its most famous monument: the Hassan II Mosque. Built in celebration of the former king's 60th birthday and opened in 1993, it rises high above the Atlantic coast, embodying the Koranic verse stating that God's throne was built upon the water. It can hold up to 25,000 worshippers inside and has space for 80,000 more in its courtyards and squares. Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, its minaret is 210m-tall. Though the monument’s design stays true to Islamic tradition, a laser beam shines from the top towards Mecca at night, exemplifying Morocco’s move towards modernity. I took great pleasure in photographing the traditional woodcarving, zellij (tile work) and stucco moulding.
Exploring the Marrakech Medina never gets old for me, and wandering the streets of the vibrant souks with my motherMeryanne is my favorite way to re-discover my city. On our last trip to the Place des Ferblantiers, not far from the better-known Jemaa El Fna Square, we came across a hip new store called Mini Boutique.
I have always been a fan of vintage stores, because for me there is nothing more elegant and feminine than fifties fashion. My mother, my aunts and their friends looked like Hollywood stars with their fabulous dresses, skirts and tops. When I was a broke New Yorker in the early eighties, working hard and partying like there was no tomorrow, I discovered vintage stores, which allowed me to have the most diverse and elegant wardrobe with amazing cocktail dresses for only $20.
When I found out there was a vintage store opening new options for shopping in Marrakech, I was thrilled. Topolina has breathtaking clothes, with custom-made fur coats, dresses, hats, clutches and shoes. Isabelle, the owner, also uses unique hand dyed fabrics from the Sahara and makes wax fabric coats, as pictured here. Marrakech caftans are known to be some of the best, but once you've picked up one or two, stopping by Topolina is a must. The shop is full of charm, with skilled Moroccan embroiderers working in front of you. She has an eclectic, bohemian chic vintage apartment above the store where she lives. She is opening a new location for the summer in Tangiers. Get ready to shop!
Although I grew up exploring the Marrakech Medina (ancient city), it was still an adventure to have a weekend getaway to explore the winding alleys of the 12th century Fez Medina. The blend of white and cream colored walls reflected the summer sunlight to give the area a soft glow.
Walking through the antique wooden doors of the Attarin Medersa (Koranic School) we entered into an airy courtyard, surrounded by walls covered in intricately hand-carved calligraphy. The Nejjarine Museum of Wood Arts & Crafts was an equally impressive showcase of Moroccan craftsmanship.This 14th century foundouk (abode for nomadic traders) has a rooftop terrace with a panoramic view one can enjoy whilst sipping traditional Moroccan mint tea.
I am never blasé about the incredible creative energy Marrakech attracts and generates.Ever since the iconic figure of Moroccan interiors, the American Bill Willis, came here in the 1960s, hundreds of visitors have come, stayed or returned to be part of the incredible design crucible rooted in this millenary cultural crossroad.
I found new evidence of this creativity last week when I went to the Four Seasons Resort, where a new gallery is showing the jewellery of Marrakech resident Joanna Bristow. I have known Joanna for over 16 years; we were selling her work in Ryad Tamsna, a gallery I had in the Medina from 1999 to 2004. It is intelligent, tasteful and elegant. Chic design whose elegance is international and whose ethnicity is modern and timeless. It made me feel like reincarnating my gallery at Jnane Tamsna (stay tuned!).
In April, the first book on Gardens of Marrakech will appear with the spring flowers, written by Angelica Gray and illustrated with gorgeous photos by Alessio Mei. The reviews are glowing, including one in The Independent. We are thrilled that the verdant entrance of Jnane Tamsna, our Marrakech boutique hotel, was chosen for the front cover.
The photo captures the magic of our lush courtyard. I designed the house around the date palms that had been on the land for centuries. As they were too big to be moved, we left one is in the middle of the front entrance as you may see here, through the Moorish arches! The first riad courtyard – from where this photo is taken – was planted around another robust date palm.
Two years ago, Dr. Christian Kurtzke, CEO of the world famous china brand Meissen, asked me to design a collection. The request surprised me, as I had never designed tableware before. Prior to answering, I went to the beautiful Dresden Museum in Saxony to understand if there could be a link between Marrakech and Meissen.
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