Morocco is in northern Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The interior design seen in Morocco is influenced by the warm climate, the local landscape and the dominant belief system, Islam. Moroccan interiors are lavish in colour and fabrics, filled with accessories ranging from ceramic bowls to hookahs and incense burners. Exotic and lush, Moroccan design is becoming influential in Western design schemes.
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Vibrant colours and quiet desert shades make for an active colour palette in Moroccan design. The blues, reds and yellows found in Moroccan schemes are electric, as rich and powerful in tone as the sun, the sea and the earth. These brilliant colours are used in fabrics, paint and tile. They are used in complex patterns that reflect Islamic symbols. To ground this cascade of colour, neutral tones are used within the patterns and in flooring. Stucco walls and wide plank floors are characteristic of Moroccan homes, as are rounded walls and arched entryways. The doorways are often trimmed in hand-painted tiles.
An abundance of fabrics is used in Moroccan design, including small silk woven rugs and thick overstuffed floor pillows. Gauzy window treatments and woollen throws add layers of texture. Furniture is crafted from dark woods. Chair legs and backs are intricately carved and seats are upholstered in woven cottons or in leather. Nail heads are used frequently as a decorative element. Dining tables are low to the floor and traditionally food is served from brightly painted communal bowls. Diners sit on fat floor cushions. In the Western version of Moroccan design, chairs are set around the dining table but they reflect the carvings and upholstery seen in Morocco.
The traditional Moroccan interior design of Africa, like the European Mediterranean, is influenced by the temperate climate. Outdoor living spaces are integral to the architecture and design of Moroccan homes. In the Western adaptations of Moroccan design, the outdoor space is used for entertainment. The garden decor will be wrought-iron outdoor furniture upholstered in a solid colour. The Moroccan influence will be seen in the brightly coloured pillows and hanging lamps with filigree ironwork. Moroccan themed interiors in the West are usually toned down a bit from the native decor The scheme is usually developed through accessories such as area rugs, throw pillows, ceramics and tiles.
Because of its location on the Mediterranean Sea, Moroccan decor could be typed as a Mediterranean style of design. The country also has desert landscapes, and so it is compatible with the styles commonly seen in the desert Southwest of the United States. The beamed ceilings, stucco walls, wide plank hardwood floors and blended indoor/outdoor living are characteristic of Southwest, California and Mexican interior designs. Just as with Morocco, these regions have sharply contrasting colours in their landscapes: deep greens and sandy yellows, burnt oranges and creamy whites, earthy reds and whispery pinks. Moroccan influences can be seen in the eclectic designs in these Western regions, sharing intense and neutral shades, handcrafted accessories and layers of fabrics for texture and colour.
The exotic design of native Morocco is derived from many influences, including France and Spain, just as Morocco influences their interiors. As the world population becomes more global in its thinking, and world trade continues to provide an ever-widening range of goods, design schemes from the East and the West intermingle. Moroccan design, once thought by Westerners to be too exotic and even extreme for their tastes, is finding its way into contemporary schemes. Kilim rugs, filigree lamps, tiled tabletops and bolder colours are being integrated into modern decor schemes for their punch and touch of the exotic.