Akbar Show Room
After the success of their first boutique Akbar Delights, the expat owners have expanded with Moor and the Akbar Showroom, which has the greatest selection of housewares from their travels. You’ll find leather poufs in white with metallic stitching and fabulous wrought-iron lanterns and carved wooden contract tablets. Appointments are advised.
Founded in 2006 as a non-profit to provide day care for disabled women, Al Kawtar is a women’s center that includes an embroidery workshop, where young disabled women can learn a craft. Many of their products are sold in a little shop in the souk. You will find house wares such as napkins, place mats and sheets as well as baby and children clothes and women’s shirts and kaftans. All of the products are made of 100 percent natural cotton and linen and embroidered by hand, so custom orders are welcomed. Proceeds go to benefit the center and you may even spot women in the back of the shop working on new pieces.
Carpet sellers abound in the medina but my favorite shop for everything from Berber rugs to intricate woven antiques is the new space that was opened by the son of the owner of the clothing shop Au Fil d’Or. Chabi Mohamed will explain the differences in quality and technique but has learned from his father that it is better to give Western buyers a fair price from the start than to inflate like crazy and play the negotiating game. He ships anywhere in the world and agreeable to work with.
The mother of all candle shops is a ten-minute drive from the center of the industrial zone. There are twenty-six colors to choose from, and the staff will light as many candles as you would like so that you can see them in all their flickering glory. The house specialty is hollowed-out squares of wax for night-lights, clever because they last forever. (You’ll see them in happening bars all over town.) The deep-red ones are fantastic for Christmas.
Mohamed Karimi has a sliver of a shop in the souk where he sells a small selection of his carpets. He will wave you and explain origins and dying techniques and you’ll pay a fraction of what you would pay at home if you could find one. However, he keeps his best stash in a private showroom nearby so if you are really looking for something special, ask him to take you there.
Rug buyers who want a more civilized experience than hunting through the souk can go to this shop on Rue de la Liberté and look through a more edited selection. It’s the favorite stop of one of our most stylish Marrakech shoppers.
By appointment only, Brigitte Perkins sells very pretty embroidered linens.
You will find many of the same things next door at Maison Rouge, which has the same owner.
Right next to the boutique Lalla and under the restaurant Terrasse des Epices is a very attractive shop that sells the ceramic products made by a village cooperative in the Atlas Mountains. All of the proceeds benefit the community.
Caroline Hamile, the French owner of Chez Zoe has a small outpost at the front of La Mamounia and other hotels in town sell her tasseled terry bath robes and embroidered bath linens. Many of the top hotels in the city, including the Villa des Orangers, have their linens embroidered (with oranges, of course) here. For those who want to see the entire range of possibilities, you can schedule a visit to her showroom in the Industriel Zone. You will have to go early in the afternoon, though, because the power is shut off at 6.
El Jouli Miloud
One of the sleeker boutiques in the Souk, El Jouli Miloud carries many Moroccan made housewares and fashions with a more modern sensibility. Designer Miloud El Jouli mixes the ethnic influences of the city with his more contemporary sensibility. If you are looking for sleek lanterns, for instance, or leather ottomans suitable for a loft or wine glasses with metal stems, this is the place to come. The gallery will create wood and glass tables to measure and regularly ship glass ware and lanterns to the States. In the back of the shop is a room stocked with colorful kaftans and accessories, including knock-off Vanessa Bruno totes with silver sequin trim.
La Porte d’Or
A favorite of international interior designers, this gigantic shop in the thick of the souk is filled with kilims and textiles, antique doors (which make great tables) and chunky ethnic jewelry.
The sister shop of Côte Sud, Maison Rouge exhibits a similar range of modern Moroccan housewares, fashion and gift items. You will find fun metallic leather bags with fun sayings, ribbon bracelets with wooden charms, tasseled terry robes for kids, stylish scarves and bright leather poufs that are perfect for kids’ play rooms.
Meryanne Loum-Martin Boutique
The eponymous designer, who was behind the design of Riad Tamsna and Jnane Tamsna, does it again at her new shop across from her hotel, Jnane Tamsna. The epitome of French-Moroccan chic, the shop stocks horn bracelets, delicate tea glasses, watercolors and Limoges china. For those who want to go all out, everything in her sitting room is also for sale, and it’s shippable, including paintings by local artists and sleek furniture upholstered with Senegalese fabrics.
UPDATE: Meryanne has closed this boutique while she works on a new hotel project but plans to open another one when her second hotel in the Palmeraie is open.
Ministero del Gusto
When Vogue sent editor Italian Alessandro Lippini to Marrakech in the early 1990s, she fell so in love with the city and its beauty that she decided to buy a house and move. In the process of fixing it up, she met many master craftsmen and began designing her own furniture. Now, she and her partner Fabrizio Barrini run a showroom/gallery out of their house and work on private interior design projects. There’s no better place to see traditional and modern Moroccan made furniture in place than at the Ministero del Gusto, or Ministry of Taste. By appointment only.
After the great success of her Akbar Delights boutique, Isabelle Duchet-Annez decided to open a second shop with a more modern twist on the Moroccan arts and a lot less color. In an all white space that is illuminated by dozens white lanterns, Moor mixes house wares in a neutral palette like white leather poufs with metallic stitching and grey linen napkins with more sophisticated fashion than you find at Akbar. Think of the kaftan or djellaba fetish as having grown up and you get the idea. A wool or velvet jacket in black or gray may have an embroidered edge but would not stand out as ethnic in New York or Paris. While the antique wooden panels with Arabic writing that decorate one wall are not for sale, you may buy them at the Akbar Show Room around the corner. Closed Sundays.
Behind a pair of enormous unmarked doors, this warehouse is piled floor to ceiling with irresistible treasures, such as tables and chairs, glassware, mirrors, candlesticks, pots and bowls. The quality is better than in the souks, and its owners will happily arrange shipping. Ask for Mustapha if you want to see the best wooden doors.
Scènes de Lin
Come to buy fabrics by the yards or to pick up wonderful linens for the dining room or bedrooms. The owner showcases her stylish goods in wonderful table displays and now also sells some kaftans and accessories to go with the housewares.
Expat Sophie Rieutord sells exquisite hand embroidered linen sheets and towels out of an all-white showroom in the industrial zone of Sidi Ghanem. Among her refined motifs are white-on-white polka dotted towels and 100 percent cotton sheets with red branches running along the edge or a graphic chain pattern. The patterns can be customized as well and many of the area hotel’s have ordered their linens here. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
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