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Morocco’s influence growing in decor, fashion

By Patricia Sheridan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/10/21/27/zFa3A.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - SHNS photo by Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Carpets by Berber, Tuareg and other nomadic tribes of Morocco have helped inspire Western design trends.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/10/21/27/GDKJW.Em.138.jpeg|500
    - SHNS photo by Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Assortment of glass perfume bottles from Morocco at Emrani-Art Marrakech.

Moroccan style has gone mainstream. Its Moorish, French and Arabesque influences have proved irresistible to arbiters of fashion and design. Intricate details from Berber carpets, Kasbah tiles and riad arches are translated for Western taste by reducing the busyness.

Best described as a fearless approach to excess, the Moroccan look may have evolved as a counterpoint to the monotone deserts that cover much of this North African country.

Since the first caravans crisscrossed the deserts and climbed the Atlas mountains, Morocco has been a melting pot of European, Middle Eastern and African cultures. Intricate patterns and textures collide with color to create a kind of clashing continuity. Geometric patterns on tile and kilims, carvings on cedar doors and ceilings, hand-painted designs adorning restored Kasbahs, and turbans, jelabas, babouche and kaftans are all the root of modern Moroccan style.

As for the colors, cobalt blue and green tones come from miles of Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline, pinks from sand dunes lit by the sunset and the reds from the clay that surrounds Marrakech. It all blends into an exotic tagine of interior design.

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