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Past perfect

Oct 11, 2019 | Design

A chic Marrakech riad pays tribute to the past in a very current way

The passion project of Spanish couple Julia Rodriguez Bellido and Mauro Martinez Cubillo, Riad L’Atelier is a stylish homage to the building’s origins as a fondouk (a traditional hotel for artisans who used to travel to Marrakech from Fez) as well as the 60s and 70s (a time in which many designers and architects established their factories in Morocco). ‘Many designers came to Marrakech at this time to have their designs made – and as a result, there are so many amazing original pieces to be found from this period. We’ve found crazy things in the fleamarkets,’ says Bellido. You can still find original pieces fairly easily in the city by the likes of Mathieu Matégot and his contemporaries.

A nod to the history and traditions of the city, and the medina in particular, where it’s based (it’s located in Kaat Benahid, the oldest district), the riad’s retro feel also feels incredibly current, courtesy of the emphasis they’ve placed on artisanal design. 

Here the owners have created a craft-led space that’s filled with a mixture of vintage finds, locally created craft and custom design. ‘We focused on local materials and local techniques,’ says Bellido. From the architecture itself (the walls and floors feature ancient cementwork techniques), to the beautiful one-off furniture finds and decorative objects, and even down to smaller details like napkins, coasters and hamman towels, there’s a tactile appeal and personal touch that sets it apart. The suites are all completely different – from their configuration to their personalities and the carefully collected and curated items.

Even the beautifully styled and conceived breakfast is a nod to craft and an homage to Marrakechi culture – presented in beautiful crockery and made up of local produce.

A stylish nod to its surroundings, but up to date with modern amenities and the design imperative today to establish provenance and context, it’s a perfect marriage of old and new.

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