Palette Inspiration: Colors of Marrakech, Morocco
A couple of years ago my now husband Matt and I visited the wonderful city of Marrakech in Morocco. We love to travel and for both of us it was our first time in Africa! Honestly, Marrakech is one of the most colorfully vibrant places I've been to and I can't think of a better city to kick off this ongoing series on color palette inspiration.
From pastels to vibrant color palettes, the city serves up stunning and inspirational aesthetic through its architecture, cuisine, and exotic textiles. Marrakech is also known as the “Rose City”, as it is painted practically in entirety with a natural red clay that comes from a nearby city. During the daytime, the city gives off a stunning chaotic salmon pink blend. As the sun sets, the pink hue appears to darken in color and provides the ultimate romantic setting.
With a bohemian charm and an ancient heritage that has been preserved over hundreds of years, I loved the old world charm, stunning patterns and textures—endless inspiration in terms of art and design!
Exploring the colors of Marrakech...
Walk through the Souks of Marrakech and you’ll come across perfect piles of brightly colored, powdered substances—spices! Sold to both locals and visitors alongside natural herbs and tea leaves, pigments and more, it’s a feast for the eyes. There are all sorts of colors, but the predominant hue is yellow, with touches of orange, brown and earthy greens.
Beyond the hundreds of piles of spices, you'll find yellow in the warm lighting from lamps, the spices in food, and in clothing, rugs, slippers and products peppered throughout the souk and around the Medina.
Although many changes have been brought to the city of Marrakech as the boundaries of the world have opened up, the rose pink colour of the buildings has been one constant that has never changed. From houses to important religious buildings, shops, restaurants, and public spaces, mostly every building in the city is tinted with a natural red clay that comes from a nearby region of the city of Marrakech.
As the red clay dries, it sets into the buildings as a rose pink colour. As you take in views of the skyline of the city, it is clear why Marrakech is also known as the “Rose City”. These colors help to represent a city that has managed to preserve its culture for hundreds of years.
Walk around the tiny alleyways in Marrakech and it will soon become evident that many of the doorways to homes and buildings are painted green. The color green, whether it is a shade of bottle green, turquoise green, or grass green, is strongly associated with the religion of Islam. It is believed that the color green is representative of heaven because it is an in between of red, which is the colour of hell, and blue, which is the colour of heaven. The earthy shades of green seen in Marrakech add to the bohemian feel of the city.
Although Morocco has a vast landscape that varies from dry desert like conditions to lush green valleys and tall mountains, the Berber people, who were some of the first settlers in the area, often chose to reside in drier conditions. The Berbers built their homes and villages using mud brick, which literally comes from the reddish earth.
The colour red can be found in many shades throughout Marrakech and can be seen in marketplaces, textiles, and household wares. Many products use natural materials (such as poppy leaves in the case of red) in order to create and diversify colors.
Although less common than other largely seen vibrant colours and pastel tones in Marrakech, purple hues can be seen largely throughout Souk marketplaces and in some buildings including detailed doors and tiled murals. Tyrian purple, which is a deep hue of purple, can be found in clothing, textiles, and rugs.
As a small aside, the deep tone of Tyrian purple is created using dye extracted from murex shellfish, which has been extracted and used for centuries in Morocco, and is the reason why purple has become the color of royalty, for how expensive it was to extract! #funfact
Peppered throughout the Souk you’ll find many shades of blue in Marrakech. Stunning mosaics on marketplace buildings alongside wicker baskets filled with beautifully coloured spices and herbs. In many cities across Morocco, vibrant shades of blue can be found on painted buildings, doors, and mosaics.
The deep shade of cobalt blue that is often largely associated with Marrakech was inspired by the Majorelle Garden, a stunning botanical garden that can be found within the city. Majorelle was a famous French expat who gathered much inspiration from the architecture and natural beauty of Marrakech, which can be seen through his art and architecture. He is one among many artists and musicians who has visited the city over hundreds of years in order to gather inspiration from the everyday lifestyles of the locals as well as from their deep rooted history and traditions.
Collectively, most of the colors that can be found in the architecture and textiles of Marrakech come from inspiration from the natural world, and in turn provide endless inspiration when it comes to art and design. The color palette of this wonderful city shows that many vibrant and pastel hues can be combined to create beautiful and eye catching designs and works of art. Whether you want to invoke the aura of Morocco with your color selection or not, the inspiration from bohemian and old world color combinations will and a lovely vibrance!
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