Latest News

Five Ways To Create An Outdoor Space

It looks as if it is going to be a scorcher this weekend so today’s post is about how to create an outdoor space, somewhere you can sit, relax and enjoy the sunshine.  It’s easy to do and as you will see from the images below, it’s possible to convert even the smallest balcony into an outdoor living space.

 

outdoor-rooms
summer-living

outdoor-living-maud-interiors

 

Five ways to create an outdoor space

Image Source: 1 and 2 DigsDigs.com, 3. Smittenstudioonline.com  4. Liza Bruce’s home Elle Decor

 

How To Create Your Own Outdoor Space

 

five ways to create an outdoor space

 

 

The five key ingredients to create an outdoor space are from top left:

 

Plants, planting and planters are key.  You don’t need a garden, you can create an exotic look on a balcony, roof terrace or yard with creative planting.  I’ve chosen the image of the entrance to a New York roof terrace, owned by Gray Davis and his partner and featured in Vogue Australia, to show how by planting large ferns and a mix of palms in planters you can transform a space and create a tropical look.

 

If you have a balcony choose plants that can go outside during summer months like this architectural cactus, top right, and mix the planters so that you have different styles and sizes. For interesting planters, which don’t cost a fortune, try your local antiques market.

 

Cushions, cushions and more cushions are essential for lounging and to add colour and texture to a space.  I like a mix of scatter cushions and floor cushions but prefer a limited colour palette to avoid things looking too busy.  Have a look at our collection, we have everything from exotic Moroccan prints and kilims, to hand-woven contemporary Mayan stripes, to vintage Kutch embroidery and bright and bold African prints, many of which are in our summer sale.

 

Rugs work well too with large floor cushions for lounging.  They add texture and delineate the space.  Just be prepared to roll them up quickly if the weather changes.

 

For seating, if you have space you could build a bench like Sarah Sherman Samuel and her partner from Smitten Studio (lifestyle photo 3).  If not, there are lots of wicker chairs around.  Ikea has some tropical rattan chairs similar to those in the second lifestyle image.

 

Baskets as platters or for reading matter will add additional texture and don’t take up too much space.  See our selection of handcrafted baskets here.

 

Lighting  – I like the idea of overhead festoon style lights and there are lots of choices available.  Solar powered fairly lights look magical too and our copper tea-lights, now in the sale, will add an extra sparkle.

 

Finally, if you don’t have an outside space, bundle up a blanket, our Moroccan Pom Pom  blankets make great picnic rugs and some cushions and head to the nearest park or beach.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam Experience

Moroccan hammam experience Riad 72

The hammam at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

If you are visiting Morocco I recommend you try a hammam either a private one at your riad or the nearest public one.  It’s essentially the Middle Eastern version of the steam room and its origins date back to Roman times.

 

Visiting a hammam is part of Moroccan life and men, women and children visit at least once a week.  Every neighbourhood has a hammam which is often situated near the communal bread oven to share the heat source.  If you are visiting the public hammam check out the times/days when it is open to women/men in advance and find out if you need to take products with you or if they are available to purchase.

 

My first hammam experience was at Riad 72 in Marrakech, which I wrote about in an earlier blog.   When they  suggested I try the hammam I have to admit that I was slightly nervous as I had visions of having my skin rubbed until it was red raw but I had nothing to worry about.  Ayesha, the hammam attendant or tellak, at Riad 72 has been giving hammam treatments for over 10 years and she even gives her ten month old baby the treatment to cleanse his skin.

 

The riad hammam is a large tadelakht covered wet room with a heated floor and a sunken bath at one end.  The bath is filled with hot water and the room fills with steam.  First you are covered in warm water to open your pores and then in a black soap made from olive oil infused with eucalyptus.  The soap cleanses and softens your skin.  Your hammam attendant then uses an exfoliating glove called a kessa to remove old skin cells.  This isn’t like an out of the jar body scrub this is serious exfoliation. You will see rolls of skin leaving your body but it is painless.

 

Once all your dead skin has been removed you are rinsed down and clay, called rhassoul, is mixed with water and applied to your entire body and your hair.  This is special lava clay from the Atlas Mountains which  is said to remove imperfections and tighten your skin.  Once the clay has dried on your skin you are rinsed down again so that all traces are removed.  I finished off with a relaxing argan oil and verbena full body massage.  My skin felt incredibly soft and rejuvenated for days afterwards and there was no redness.

 

Moroccan Hammam Riad 72

The massage room at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam At Home

A hammam is a great way to unwind and pamper yourself at the same time.  You can create your own Moroccan hammam in your bathroom at home here’s how:

create your own hammam experience

1.  Create the right mood by lighting candles or try floating candles in our copper meditation urli for an ambient glow.

2.  Fill your bath with hot water or leave your shower running to create a steam filled room.

3.  Take a dip in the bath or under the shower  and then cover yourself with exfoliating soap.  There are a few providers of Moroccan soap and beauty treatments online but I am suggesting the Beldi soap with eucalyptus oil from Essence of Morocco.

4.  Once covered with soap start gently exfoliating with the kessa glove.  Work from the extremities in using long sweeping movements and applying pressure.

5.  Rinse off and apply a thin layer of rhassoul clay, lava clay, which is said to rid the skin of impurities, detoxifying the skin. I’m suggesting the Essence of Morocco Rhassoul Clay Mask because the mask is already mixed for you so it is easier to use.  The clay is mined from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.   You can also use the mask as a natural shampoo and as a weekly face mask.

6.  Leave the mask for 5 – 10 minutes so that it is dry but not too tight and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

7.  Finally to finish off the experience massage in Argan oil.  I like Essence of Morocco’s organic Argan Oil with Rose.

Afterwards your skin should feel cleansed, soft and rejuvenated and you should feel pampered and relaxed.

 

Please note this isn’t a sponsored post.  There are a number of online providers of Moroccan hammam products I have suggested the Essence of Morocco products because I have used them before and think the quality is good.

A Nomadic Chic Beach Home

The sitting room of this Santa Barbara beach home owned by Gina Tolleson cleverly mixes global textiles to create a nomadic chic look.  I think the secret to this look is to mix patterns, textures and textiles but keep to a limited colour palette.  Here the reds and oranges of the embroidered cushions, the floor rug and the lamp  work with the brown and neutral tones of the Moroccan rug on the sofa, and the natural wood of the sofa and tray.   You can read the full article here.

 

nomadic chic

 

Create Your Own Nomadic Chic Look

Here are some ideas for creating a similar look:

1.  A selection of vintage hand embroidered cushions from our Kutch collection.  |  2.  A vintage Azilal rug from our Rug Collection.  3.  Handcrafted copper meditation bowl.   4.  Moroccan Pom Pom blanket in natural from our Souk Collection.

 

C-Home photographer article Nancy Neil.

Riad 72 Marrakech

Where to stay in Marrakech: Riad 72

Moroccan-tea-and-pastries-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

 

If you are planning a short break to Marrakech I recommend staying in a Riad in the Medina rather than a large hotel in a newer part of town.  It’s the best way to soak up the atmosphere, get a sense of the history and the architecture and a glimpse of local life.

 

I’ve stayed in a few Riads in Marrakech over the years and Riad 72 surpasses them all.  From the moment you arrive you leave the hassles of life behind.  You are greeted by the wonderful Stephania, the general manager, and her staff who give you orange water and towels to freshen up and a welcoming Moroccan mint tea and pastries.  Stephania and her team have thought of everything to make your stay enjoyable.  If it’s your first time in the city they can advise you on where to go and can arrange trips outside the city into the Atlas mountains, to the coast etc.  They will also provide you with a mobile phone in case you get lost or have any problems during your stay.  The Riad is situated within the Bab Doukkala neighborhood, part of the Medina, so it is within easy walking distance to the souks and Gueliz but far enough away to ensure some peace and tranquillity.

 

The Riad itself is over one hundred years old and has been tastefully and elegantly restored.  The owner , Giovanna, is an Italian photographer with a keen eye for interiors.  The decor is pared back but sophisticated giving the architecture, the intricately carved wooden lattice screens, the carved wooden ceilings and the ornate plaster work centre stage.  There are seven bedrooms and each one has been beautifully decorated with textiles, lights and carved furnishings.

 

Riad-72

Bedroom-3-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

Bedroom-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

 

Bathroom-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

 

Room-detail-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

 

As well as serving a wonderful breakfast of pastries, yoghurt and honey  the Riad has its own restaurant, La Table du Riad, and the food, a contemporary twist on traditional Moroccan cuisine, is delicious.  There are lots of great restaurants in Marrakech but if you have spent a long day outside the city sightseeing, or in my case sourcing, it is nice to be able to return to your Riad and relax watching the sunset from the rooftop terrace with a glass of wine before dinner.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 18.18.10

 

 

Couscous-Royale-Riad-72

 

Roof-terraxe-Riad-72-Maud-interiors

 

Finally I have to mention the wonderful in-house spa.  The Riad has a traditional hammam, like a steam room, and after a day in the hustle and bustle and heat of the souks there is nothing more relaxing than having a traditional hammam treatment (more about that in a later post) followed by a full body massage.

Photography: Riad 72 and top and bottom Maud interiors

More information is available on the Riad’s website.

 

Baking bread in the Medina

 

Communal Bread Ovens in the Medina, Marrakech

 

Moroccan bread or Khobz, is an important part of the country’s cuisine.  It’s a flatbread, made with white or wholewheat flour with a thick crust and it’s served at every meal.   It is used like a utensil to scoop food and  to soak up the delicious tajine sauces.  Not all families within the Marrakech Medina (and other cities in Morocco) have ovens so if you wander through the streets in the morning you may see women, or sometimes children, carrying metal trays of dough, biscuits or tajines to the communal bread oven.   Every district or neighbourhood has a communal bread oven, a hammam (one male and one female) often alongside the oven to share the heat source, and a mosque. The locals drop off the dough with the baker and for a few dirhams he bakes their bread or biscuits or tajines.

 

I like to stay in the Medina when I am visiting Marrakech so that I can explore the narrow streets and get a glimpse of local life.  These shots are from the communal bread oven near Riad 72 (more about this wonderful Riad in a later post) in Bab Doukkala in the Medina.

 

Aziz-with-dough-for-the-oven-Maud-interiors

Wajid, the baker, with Khobz dough ready for baking.

Aziz-putting-bread-in-the-oven-Maud-interiors

Making room for more bread.

Bread-and-pastries-ready-for-collection-Maud-interiors

 Flatbread cooling on the tiles and on the racks waiting for collection.  Typical Moroccan biscuits ready for collection far right.

 

Traditionally Moroccans have used exotic, brightly coloured, lidded baskets called tbiqa to store the bread.  These hand-woven baskets are made from palm leaf, which is covered in wool in a variety of colour combinations and patterns.  You can see our selection of these quirky  baskets here.

 

Berber-basket-collection-Maud-interiors

 Moroccan bread baskets

 

 

Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic Exhibition

Thea Porter Retrospective at the Fashion and Textile Museum

“Both fashion and interior decoration require that you take the most beautiful fabrics in the world and cover the body seductively”

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thea Porter (1927 – 2000)

 

Thea Porter was a painter, interior designer and fashion designer.  She was passionate about textiles and has been described as the pioneer of hippy chic in the 60s and 70s.  The first retrospective of her work, at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, gives a real insight into the designer, her life and her work, aided by her scrapbooks of letters, drawings and press clippings, which formed part of her unpublished memoir, Thea Porter’s Scrapbook.

Porter grew up in the Middle East in Jerusalem and Syria and her upbringing heavily influenced her interior and fashion designs.  After a period as an embassy wife in Beirut Thea moved to London in the mid 60s and  set up shop in Greek Street, Soho, selling furniture, homewares, textiles and clothing from Syria.  Visitors to the shop loved her textiles and asked her to make clothing and she  started designing menswear and then womenswear.  The abaya and the kaftan, both in luxurious fabrics, were two of Thea’s signature styles.

Her designs were snapped up by the jet set and Hollywood stars.  Liz Taylor and Barbara Streisand were both fans.  It is said that Barbara Streisand asked her to design a dress for every room in her Malibu home.  The Beatles purchased her interior accessories and Pink Floyd wore Thea’s clothes on the cover of their 1967 album the Piper Gates of Dawn.

Thea-Porter's-Mayfair-flat

A recreation of Thea’s Mayfair flat with Suzani covered floor cushions, peacock upholstery,one of Thea’s designs front right and just seen a gold trimmed abaya in the background.

Thea-Porter-70s-coat-from-Iraqi-carpet

One of Thea’s exotic coats displayed in a recreation of her Greek Street shop.  The coat is made from an Iraqi Samawa carpet cleverly cut to show the human figures and  animals typical of these carpets along the opening.

Thea-Porter-Menswear-Womenswear

Djellaba style tunic top from African batik and Chazara jackets featuring gold brocade and velvet.

Thea-Porter-dresses-in-Ikat-fabric

Left: One of Thea’s sketches with fabric she commissioned.  Right.  A gypsy style dress from Ikat fabric.

 

Thea Porter’s designs are now sought after collectors items and her legacy is clearly apparent in the 70s fashion revival today yet she isn’t as well-known as her contemporaries.  Her designs were popular amongst the rich and famous and were regularly featured in Vogue but she was a true creative and struggled with the business side of things, often consulting astrologers for business advice, so she didn’t have the financial success she deserved.  This carefully curated exhibition, featuring over 80 of her designs, her sketches and press clippings and a documentary on her life, gives her the recognition she deserves and is a must see for textile lovers.

You can see Thea Porter’s designs featured in Vogue photo shoots here.

To find out more about the exhibition, opening times, location etc. click here.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

 

Handcrafted Gifts With A Global Twist For Mother’s Day

Choose from a range of light radiating, hand beaten, copper ware from India, beautiful hand woven woollen blankets from Morocco and cushion covers hand woven by Mayan weavers using techniques handed down from mother to daughter over generations.

Mother's-Day-Gift-Ideas

Clockwise from top left: Sunflower Copper Tea Light Holder £19  |  San Andres Brocade hand woven cushion cover in lime and white £85  |  Copper and Brass Trinket Box £22  |  Hand woven Moroccan Pom Pom blanket in natural from £149  |  Sunflower Copper Tea Light Holder as above |  Oxchuc stripe cushion cover Kal £65  |  San Andres Brocade hand woven cushion cover in grey and taupe £85  |  Small Sea Urchin Vase White £22.

A Namibian Road Trip

One of my most memorable holidays was a three week road trip around Namibia in a slightly battered open back Hyundai truck.  Namibia is a vast country, the fifth largest in Africa, with a tiny population of 2.4 million, so you can drive for days and not see anyone just spectacular scenery, endless blue skies and an abundance of wildlife.  It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the drive.  The highlights of my trip were:

 

Watching the sun rise over the sand dunes at Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei in the Namib desert, a landscape of contrasts with glowing orange dunes, piercing blue sky and white parched earth below. We climbed the Big Mama dune and looked down at the blistered landscape of the Dead Vlei valley.

Namib-desert-Sossusvlei-Maud-interiors

 Big Mama, a paw print in the cracked earth of Dead Vlei (valley) and the blackened skeletons of ancient camel thorn trees.

 

Seeing the ancient rock art at Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein is  a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the Kunene region in north-west Namibia, famous for its petroglyphs etched into the red sandstone by the San people over 2,000 years ago.

Twyfelfontein-Maud-interiorsAbove, the Lion Man, an animal with human toes, a kink in its tail and a hand at the tip said to be a human who has turned into a lion whilst in the spirit world.

 

Exploring the Skeleton Coast

We had to abandon our truck and fly to this remote region, part of the Namib desert and the least inhabited in Namibia.  It was worth the trip.  It’s a strangely beautiful coastline littered with shipwrecks and the bones of whales and seals.  We saw desert adapted elephants in the Hoanib river, went on walking safaris and met with some of the Himba people, Namibia’s last semi nomadic tribe.

Namibia-The-Skeleton-Coast-Maud-interiors

skeleton-coast-wildlife-Maud-interiors

Top: endless dunes, the coast littered with driftwood, shipwrecks and whale bones, lunar landscapes.  Bottom left: a tiny (slightly larger than the end of a pair of sunglasses) but deadly scorpion in the sand.

Bottom right: desert adapted elephants

 

The wildlife

Driving through the countryside we spotted ostriches, baboons, antelope, oryx and camels.  We spent a few days at Etosha, one of Africa’s largest game parks and went on several self-drive game drives stopping at various waterholes and waiting and waiting and waiting until finally the animals started coming in to drink.

Namibian-wildlife-Maud-interiors

Namibia-wildlife-Maud-interiors

Sealife-Namibia-Maud-interiors

Above: seals and dolphins surrounded our kayaks in Walvis Bay

 The people we met along the way

Sussie-and-her-daughter-Maud-interiors

We stopped and chatted to Sussie and her daughter selling Herero dolls in a makeshift wooden shack miles, from the nearest village, en route to Twyfelfontein.   They looked so cool and elegant in the sweltering midday sun and were very keen to have their photographs taken together and to be sent copies.

The ladies are dressed in the traditional dress of the Herero tribe; long hand sewn dresses padded out with petticoats based on the clothing worn by German settlers in the 1900s. This was a period of intense conflict and tens of thousands of Hereros lost their lives. The remaining women were forced to wear this style of dress to work in the households of the German settlers and have since adopted it as their own. The voluminous gowns are accompanied by a flat headdress which is designed to represent the horns of cattle as the Herereo are a pastoral cattle herding tribe.

 

Himba-tribe-Maud-interiors

Our Himba guide at the Hoanib River camp near the Skeleton Coast took us to meet some Himba nearby.  We took maize meal as a gift and were welcomed into the homestead and given an insight into the culture and traditions of the Himba people.  This elderly lady showed us how to make Ofjizu, the red paste which the Himba cover themselves in to protect against the sun.  Above she is grinding the ochre stone which is then mixed with fat and aromatic herbs to create a paste which is applied daily.

The Himba, fed up with being misrepresented, have made their own film about their lives”The Himbas are Shooting”.  You can see a trailer for the film, which is based on traditional storytelling, here.

The cushions

This is where, nine years ago, I discovered these exotic hand painted and hand printed cushions.  I bought a couple for my kitchen, which I still have, and decided that when I opened my shop I would stock them.  You can view the collection here and read the story behind the collection here.

 

Namibian-Collection-Maud-interiors

 

Where to stay

We stayed at camps run by Wilderness Safaris, an eco travel operator committed to conserving wildlife and investing in local communities and would recommend them.

Valentine’s Day Gifts With A Global Twist

Handcrafted Gifts With A Global Twist

 

Why not give your loved one a handcrafted Valentine’s Day gift this year, something with a story behind it?

 

Advika-Maud-interiors

For textile lovers, a hand embroidered cushions from our Kutch collection, like Advika, a vintage  Rabari embroidery cushion cover featuring heart-shaped motifs would make a wonderful gift.  The Rabaris are pastoral nomads living in Rajasthan and Gujurat with a distinctive style of embroidery which has been handed down from mother to daughter over generations.  Steeped in cultural tradition this is a statement cushion to cherish.

copper-and-brass-trinket-bos

 

If you are giving jewellery why not present it in one of our handcrafted Copper and Brass Trinket Boxes, which are perfect for storing chains, rings, earrings and cufflinks?  Each piece has been handcrafted by a Tambat coppersmith in Pune, India, using techniques dating back to the seventeenth century.  Tiny rows of uniform indentations on the surface, crafted with special hammers, create a mirror like appearance that reflects the light.

 

 

 

Moroccan-Pom-Pom-Blanket-Natural

 

For romantic nights in try our super warm Moroccan Pom Pom blankets from our Souk Collection.  These blankets are hand woven by Berber weavers and are designed to withstand the cold in the High Atlas mountains.   They are perfect for snuggling under on chilly winter nights.

 

Global Style – Burberry Prorsum Menswear

 

Rabari-inspired-embroidery

 

The Burberry Prorsum menswear collection for autumn/winter 2015 – 2016, Classically Bohemian, is a feast for the eyes for global textile lovers.  Large rebozo style fringed cashmere shawls are thrown over sophisticated suits, kantha like quilted jackets are combined with suede and shearling outerwear and hand embroidered coats, jackets, shirts, scarves and bags sparkle with mirror-work embroidery reminiscent of indigenous embroidery from India and Pakistan. I love the  jewel-like colours palette, of ink, ochre, green, turquoise, purple, red, and fuchsia, the luxurious fabrics and the mix of influences in this collection.  Sadly it’s menswear but I would happily wear one of the beautiful scarves and a large olive green bag is on my wish list.

 

A few shots of the collection below:

 

Rebozo-style-shawl-Burberry-Prorsum

Large cashmere shawl with rebozo style fringing.

Kantha-like-scarf-Burberry-Prorsum

Quilting inspired by Durham quilts and similar to kantha quilting from India and Bangladesh.

mirrorwork-scarves-Burberry-Prorsum

Beautiful mirror-work scarves.

mirrorwork-jacket-Burberry-Prorsum

Mirror-work reminiscent of traditional embroidery from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Pakistan.

Burberry-Prorsum-mirror-work

Global style.

 

Watch the show and listen to soundtrack from talented British singer/songwriter Claire Maguire here.

Photos: Burberry Prorsum , Vogue.co.uk.