Unknown protagonists silenced by official sources, the Berbers (or Imazighen, as they prefer to be known) are the group of peoples who since ancient times occupied almost all of North Africa, from the Siwa oasis (west of Egypt) to the Atlantic Ocean, including the Canary Islands, and from the Mediterranean to the south border of the Sahara.
Throughout history they have gone by many other names (Mauri, Libu, Numidians, Gaetuli, Garamantes…) reflecting their internal, geographical, and cultural plurality.
The Imazighen have witnessed numerous migrations, colonisations, and invasions. All have enriched their identity, while reducing their population through assimilationist policies.
However, the Berbers survive. It is calculated that there are currently over 35 million Berber, 20 million in Morocco, while the European and American diaspora account for several million
The Amazigh identity or identities are today reflected above all in their language, TAMAZIGHT, in its different variations (Tarifit. Tashelhit, Tamahaq…). It is also reflected in their awareness of sharing a common legacy of traditions, celebrations, and customs, and finally in their willingness to accept this legacy as their own.
From the late 11th century, major dynasties from North Africa such as the Almoravid (lamțūna) and then the Almohad (masmuda) tried to reunify the Islamic West, reinterpreting Is lam and homogenising and highlighting the Amazigh language ge and culture which became driving forces for Islamisation. However, the influence of the Imazighen did not end there.
At the height of the hegemony of the feudal kingdoms, from the 13th century, a new power came into play, the Marinids. The ties between this emirate with its seat in Fez and that of the Nasrid in Granada were solid, with mutual influences and extensive exchanges. This can be observed in the Alhambra and the major institutional constructions (madrasa, maristan, gates…) but also in everyday ceramic goods. It has even been argued that a Maghrebisation took place in Granada.
The great designer William Morris once said ‘have nothing in your home you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ and we couldn’t agree more.
In the age of stripped back decluttering courtesy of Marie Kondo, El Fenn wants to raise the flag for maximalism and colour. It doesn’t means mess but a Morris-inspired collection of the things you love.
That’s why they have curated a selection of products that will allow you to take a small piece of El Fenn back to your own home.
So from crockery to linens, fragrances to books, we believe every product we sell is either beautiful or useful – and hopefully both.
El Fenn shop began life as a few șhelves on the back wall of the reception office.
But in the years since then it’s grown to become one of the biggest draws to El Fenn, known for its eclectic selection of both established and up-and-coming names on the Moroccan design scene.
There are LRNCE products from the potter beloved by the design crowd, stripped back urban luxury fashion courtesy of Marrakchi Life and traditional artisanal home furnishings given a modern twist by the team at Anajam Home.
I have taken the liberty of transcribe the flyer “ABOUT EL FENN” the managing partner Willem Smit recently gave to me. It is the best way to show this Marrakech highlight.
“We call El Fenn a home from home because that is what we wanted to create from the first day we opened our doors fourteen years ago.
Since then we’ve added rooms, knocked down walls, hosted art festivals and film screenings, huge parties and memorable weddings but that one core value of what we’re here to do has remained. Now, more than ever, we want to retain El Fenn’s intimacy and friendliness.
Because our lives are increasingly time poor as the world keeps getting busier. And while we’ve seen Marrakech grow and expand over the years since we opened – donkeys and carts replaced by scooters that buzz and smartphones that ping – the medina is also immutable: ancient, atmospheric and inspiring. We want you to make the most of that while you’re here.
That’s why there are no TVs but instead lots of spaces to relax in. Please do make the most of them to read, sleep or sip a mint tea and listen to the muezzin’s call to prayer as the sun sets.
Then, once your energy levels are reset, we urge you to venture out a little further and see what you find – or finds you – in the beautiful city of Marrakech.
There’s a saying in Morocco that you don’t choose a house, a house chooses you. And we feel incredibly lucky that El Fenn happened to choose us. It is a place that we hold deep in our hearts and it gives us great pleasure to be able to share it with you”.
see more at https://el-fenn.com/
Hassan Hajjaj straddles the divide not just between countries and cultures, but art and artisans. And it’s this unique mix of perspectives and disciplines that has made him arguably Morocco’s hottest current art export.
Hajjaj’s portrait photography, shown in galleries including London’s Somerset House and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is created and framed using the products and skills of Marrakech’s artisans.
And while his real love are the everyday ‘heroes’ of the city – from friends and neighbours to gnaoua musicians and the henna artists of Djemaa el Fna – he’s also developed a celebrity following that’s seen Madonna, Cardi B and Will Smith sit for him over the past couple of years.
Hajjaj was born and grew up in the northern city of Larache before leaving Morocco for England aged 14 and quitting school a year later with no qualifications. He entered the London party scene and became a promoter turned streetwear designer, an aspect of his early career that still comes through in the exuberant colours, bold patterns and touchable textures of his work.
In 1989, he began taking photographs and at first his work was purely private. But in 1995, he returned to Marrakech for the first time in years and it was the start of his unique creative partnership with the city.
“I got back to London thinking I´d probably never go there again but something about the place kept calling me back, ‘he says. “The next thing I knew I was coming two or three times a year, but always I felt it was only because the city was inviting me. I didn’t want to be someone that came just to take, I wanted to be a part of the city, its life and its people – I wanted in some way to protect them.”
A recent addition to Marrakech’s buzzing art scene is housed in one of the great treasures of the city’s Art Deco heritage. A 1932 villa in Gueliz now houses the Comptoir des Mines gallery that showcases some of Morocco’s best artists. Created by respected gallerist Hicham Daoudi, who has a special focus on helping up-and-coming artists develop, the space hosts exhibitions that focus on weighty themes. Past works have looked at ‘Crossings’- an exploration of migration – and ‘African Poetries’ – a meditation on artistic melancholy.
Boho style has its roots in the French Word ‘boheme’ and the artistic bohemian concept.
Boho interior style is rich, versatile, colorful and relaxed, as the life of the nomads discovering new lands.
The colour palette of this style is bright and intense: orange, yellow, purple, ultramarine and fuchsia make the house cheerful and cozy.
A boho-house is magnificently decorated with textiles, draperies, blankets, pillows, bright covers for furniture, carpets, exactly as the nomadic people do.
The Berber Museum is located in the former painting studio of Jaques Majorelle, and presents a panorama of the extraordinary creativity of the oldest people in North Africa. A collection of over 600 objects (jewellery, arms, leatherwork, basketry, textiles, and carpets) was sourced throughout Morocco –from the Rif Mountains to the Sahara Desert- and attests to the richness and diversity of an ongoing, vibrant culture.
The museum was designed around its collection: sound, music photography and film transport the visitor, opening a door onto the Berber culture of Morocco
Morocco holds a quasi monopoly on argan oil. It is extracted from the argan tree, an endemic spices that grow on the southwest of the country (the Mexican argan tree doesn’t produced oil). Rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, it is used in cooking and skincare products. Since the late 1990s, this oil has become increasingly popular among consumers in Europe, North America and Japan. Until recently, demand was met by oil obtained from 50 million Moroccan trees and the work of 2 million local employees. Considering that it takes 15 years before an argan tree produces any nuts and that it will yield no more than 2 liters of oil, it is difficult to obtain enough of it to satisfy global demand.
The exotic dramatic quality of Arabic decoration is extraordinary. A means of escape from the industrialised western decoration so overly confused as to what it aims to aspire to in terms of luxury and the limitation of its resources to serialised, repetitive and angular constructions offering furnishings with laboratory materials resulting in simply pale imitations of the past.
Nature, colour, constructive sets, exquisite materials, engaging ambiences, etc. all of these attract us the decoration projected through magazines as samples of a new luxury concept.
However, is Arabic decoration truly Arabic? Contemporary Arabic culture does not offer, except on rare occasions, any of these aesthetic principles. Even its aspiration is to foolishly mock western standards adding a further over-top-touch, ostentatiousness and bad taste.
In truth that sample of an aesthetic universe based on traditional Arabic culture has been recreated by western foreigners (refined and well-to-do foreign with new horizons free from the inherent atavisms of the west).
Even the recovery of traditional trade, handicrafts and pieces form part of this trend. There is still room for many unanswered questions on philosophical, political, anthropological and religious grounds, although there is plenty of time for them to be asked. The idea has been thrust forward; Arabic decoration is in fact European decoration.
It is worthwhile underlining that this is no way conditions the enjoyment and delight we take from a truly fascinating decorative model that is destined to make us reconsider interior design in the west.
This restaurant located in the Rue d’Anglaterre is –in the opinion of the members of “The African Blog” – one of the best in Tangiers. Both the French cuisine as well as well as impressive levels of customer care and quality services are far removed from the stereotypes one normally finds in Morocco. Furthermore, its decoration, in keeping with the trend for more exclusive spaces in Morocco, manages to incorporate elements of darkest Africa with an industrial vintage motif, all meaning that La Fabrique is a standout restaurant in Tangiers.