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The lauded interior designer discusses life in Marrakech following the release of her book dedicated to the city.
By Samantha Coles | January 28 2021
Meryanne Loum-Martin first visited Marrakech, Morocco in 1985 seeking a suitable place for her parents to build a vacation home. Fast-forward three decades and Loum-Martin is a successful hotelier and lauded interior designer, and she has recently released a book. Inside Marrakesh: Enchanting Homes and Gardens is a chic coffee table tome that gives a peek behind the keyhole of the exceptional homes of the city’s luminaries and tastemakers. She describes the vibrant city as “a place where my love for style, design, architecture and bohemian cosmopolitan social life have been fulfilled.”
She left Paris (and a law career) behind to make Marrakech her home in 1996. She then built and opened her hotel, Jnane Tamsna (which she describes as “a blissful oasis with amazing guests, organic food and a chic art gallery”), in 2001 with her ethnobotanist husband. The boutique hotel can be found at the edge of the city in the Palmeraie, an ancient forest of several hundred thousand palm trees. It has just 24 guest rooms, which are spread over five Moorish-style houses, and the sumptuous interiors encapsulate Loum-Martin’s luxe boho style.
She insists that “the gardens are just as important as the architecture and the interiors,” which is hardly surprising, as Jnane Tamsna translates to “big garden.” Her husband tends to the ever-changing, nine-acre garden, a scenic spot for dinner and Loum-Martin’s choice dish: “I like fusion food that we make. Morocco has a delicious eggplant preparation called zaalouk. I add some spices and chilli to it and mix with al dente tagliatelle. It makes a very unique all’arrabbiata and is full of Moroccan flavors.”
Away from Jnane Tamsna, Loum-Martin can often be found wandering around the old market and the flea market searching for one-of-a-kind piecesbefore having sunset drinks at La Mamounia, a luxury palace hotel near the bustling medina. She also frequents the city’s museums, a big draw for many visitors, but she likes to go her own way: “I love to ignore the ‘direction of visit’ sign at the Dar Si Said Museum and instead go and bathe in the beauty of the perfect Arab architecture; in the courtyard, the dimensions and mosaics are perfect.”
“I love the YSL Museum and how Saint Laurent paid tribute to the culture and sources of his inspiration. There is so much cultural appropriation by designers. The Majorelle Foundation is doing amazing work to support education, environment and cultural preservation.”
She says dressing elegantly when out and about is important, as “you might bump into your most social friends; they know everyone in town. You’ll be invited to amazing homes and parties. I only wear dresses, skirts, sometimes kaftans. I never wear pants.”
She is a big fan of vintage pieces and wears evening jackets and accessories passed down to her from her late mother and grandmother. “I am a ‘no visible logo’ advocate. I wear clothes that I design or customize myself and items from the Ibu Movement (a brand based in Charleston, South Carolina), which has given ethnic clothes the chic of couture. I have shoes made in Marrakech – I choose precious ikats and turn them into the most comfortable loafers. But I do love Hermès foulards. I can’t live without them.”
Inside Marrakesh: Enchanting Homes and Gardens by Meryanne Loum-Martin, $50, rizzoliusa.com