The Moroccan home of UK fashion designer, Liza Bruce and her artist husband Nicholas Alvis Vega, featured in Elle Decor, is a feast for the eyes; a place where pattern, detail and colour abound. Liza, who made her name designing swimwear in the 1980s, began her travels to Morocco in 2003 sourcing material for her collections, and after several trips to the country sought to establish a base. A trip to the Ourika Valley, a riverside region situated south of Marrakech in the foothills of the Atlas mountains revealed an abandoned, half-built riad in a Berber market village where she has developed a local and wider African interior design inspiration. Working with highly-skilled Moroccan artisans, who included stained glass window and tile artists, woodworkers and plasterers, the couple rebuilt the shell to suit their vision and requirements. The remodelling of the building was inspired by the geometry of Islamic patterns and Swahili design, a nod to Kenya where her husband grew up.
Now a stylish retreat that exudes African interior design inspiration, the riad is where Liza and her husband spend four months of the year, designing and creating the fabrics for their home textile and clothing collections, the three-storey riad features beautiful gardens, several terraces to lose yourself in, a relaxing swimming pool area, luxuriously appointed with cushion-filled daybeds, and a hammam steam bath. High elegant arches can be seen throughout, and on the rooftop are two domes, painted in brilliant white, a colour chosen to echo the Atlas Mountains in the background. Giving the building a spectacular silhouette against a blue sky, the white colour continues through to cover the exterior walls, and is in stark contrast to the softer, rose pink colour normally favoured in Morocco.
In the interior, the floors are also white, along with some of walls, however as contrast, bold swathes of colour make their appearance, as a primary palette of magenta and dark green hues, inspired by the djellaba robes worn by the local villagers, drenches whole walls. These colours are also carried through the home in the form of furniture and textiles accents. The couple chose to furnish the riad with their collection of Asian and African decor accessories, furnishings and artefacts, which includes items like traditional West African furniture beds; a buffalo hide shield, hand-carved chair and benches from Ethiopia; a cast bronze side table from Benin; elaborate tent pegs from Mauritania, mounted onto stands and flanking a bed; carved wooden chairs from Mali; basketry; and traditional Moroccan furniture. In the sitting room, ceilings and walls feature hot pink plaster, providing the backdrop to Kuba cloth pillows from the Congo that adorn an Afghan warlord’s bed turned sofa; Yoruba crowns displayed on stands; an intricately beaded Yoruba armchair; and traditional beaded aprons.
Decorative wooden doors made by local artisans, create a screen-like effect in separating the rooms and spaces. Purposely choosing to have little in the way of formal seating, the couple instead have scattered pillows and Berber rugs around the riad’s seating areas for visitors to recline at their leisure. The master bedroom overlooks the courtyard, and is furnished with an antique Moroccan Tuareg bed, sourced from a local souk and covered with a silk Ikat coverlet from Uzbekistan. The kitchen, built around a tree that now grows through the roof, is outfitted in the style of traditional Berber homes, and features mud walls and a ceiling constructed from reeds and wooden beams. Locally made, and decorated tiles cover the floor and work tops in a colourful mosaic.
The rooftop terrace is a spectacular space, adorned with an antique rug from Mauritania, floors cushions and benches inviting guests to relax as they choose, whilst making the most of the gorgeous views.