With Morocco! French designer José Lévy talks about the Morocco that he loves. He has transcribed the atmosphere of Northern Africa through a beautiful family of objects: mirrors, tables, cement tiling and seats.
Above – Derb Riad high and low pedestal table – As if the ornamental tiling had in one go been raised above the ground. Just three cement tiles arranged, according to the motifs created by the designer, on a metallic grid column that uses the transparency and lightness with certain irony.
The Kasbah neighbourhood in Marrakech, the one in Tangiers, both dilapidated, cultivated and sophisticated, a resourcefulness that complements the subtlest know-how. The memory of Morocco in the 1950s, flea markets, metal garden furniture perforated with Mashrabiya made in Casablanca, granite floors, the geometry and the architecture of the Medina, cement tiles…
Between fiction and personal memories, this take on Beldi (the heart and soul of traditional Moroccan know-how) draws from a very Parisian world, very graphic so that none of the cultures remain immune. We are reminded of Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Bowles, Burroughs and many others, struck by this country with a lifestyle so close and so far removed from ours.
Labess, Choukran, Chkoun and Yallah’ mirrors – Four mirrors with some stylistic details that are adequate to evoke the encounter between Western and Eastern cultures. Four mirrors with complementary tones (black, grey, bronze and pink) set the style like doors towards this Moroccan fantasy.
José Lévy effortlessly digests these codes to create others and conversely. A kindred country with whom there are many shared recollections. Corinne Bensimon splits her time living and working in Paris and Marrakech with some of the best craftsmen in the Marrakech region. She distributes her collection in her boutique in the Haut-Marais.
Beldi rug – Hand-tufted in Casablanca, this rug unfolds in accordance with combined geometric hexagon and diamond shapes. The striped pattern, arranged on some of the diamonds perpendicular to the others, generates a surprising optical relief reminiscent of Sol Lewitt’s visual studies on lines.
Ourika rug – A rug with enormous dimensions (3 m x 3 m) produced entirely by hand in the mountains of Marrakech and whose geometric pattern associated with the padded texture of the wool brings about a perception that plays with optical illusion.
Chkoun mirrors – Like a geometric game of construction, each Chkoun mirror is built around three shades of shimmering glass that create an optical effect for whoever is looking at themselves.
Labess coffee table – This coffee table borrows the same stylized cloud design from the eponymous mirror and rug. Produced from perforated sheet metal for the table top and drill bits for the base, the object perfectly symbolizes, through the nature of the materials used, this spirit of the D system unique to Moroccan craftsmanship that manages to divert from the sometimes unrefined character of the elements available.
Kassbah armchair and sofa – Here again, José Lévy uses the clash of cultures for this family of benches by joining the reassuring and rigorous comfort of a Western seat in wool (Kvadrat) with the relatively low and relaxed morphology of traditional Moroccan benches. Ironically, he substitutes the wooden crate on which the benches are usually placed by a base comprised of a wrought iron grid that suddenly provides a certain lightness to the whole.
Yallah’ coffee table – On the same principle as the Labess family, the Yallah’ coffee table resumes this form of stylized calabash and uses an opposition of materials and textures. Whilst the table top is produced in a noble species of wood, walnut, the base is very simply comprised of four painted concrete bars the ribbed surface of which here becomes an ornamental element.
Koutoubia floor lamp – This luminaire duo acts like a light box. Comprising a metallic cube mounted on feet in the axis of its diagonal, Koutoubia offers a choice to diffuse the light towards the ground or the ceiling (high or low version) through a mashrabiya that de facto diffracts it.
Derb Riad pouf – For the Derb Riad objects family, José Lévy has designed a collection of cement tiles that he arranges at random and at the whim of the geometric patterns of each piece within the metallic cube. Between a minimalist sculpture, a tribute to Sol Lewitt, and a functional object with multiple uses.
Derb Riad shelves – A simple cement tile attached to the wall to form a small occasional shelf.
Photos © José Lévy