Creatives and tastemakers like our own Jessica Richards have long treasured Morocco for its dramatic vistas, history, and artisan craftsmanship in textiles, ceramics, and furniture. Now, even if you aren’t able to make the trek across the Atlantic, SHEN is offering a way to bring that free-spirited sensibility to your own home. After buying for herself and curating small drops for SHEN over the past ten years, our largest collection of home accessories to date launches just in time for the holidays. Ranging from rugs to candlesticks and table top accessories, each item was carefully sourced by Jessica this past summer to be that special piece that will have visitors asking, “where’d you get that?” Here, Jessica explains what keeps bringing her back to Morocco and how she has incorporated these decor finds into her own home.
What is it about Morocco that keeps bringing you back year after year?
I absolutely love every last inch of Morocco, from Marrakech to Casablanca, Chefchaouen (nicknamed the blue pearl city) to tiny little beachside towns like Essaouira. The people, the colors, the food, the craftsmanship, the art - I just love it. The hippie community vibe reminds me a bit of Laguna Beach back when I was growing up. Essaouira in particular is reminiscent of how cherished Laguna was in the 1970's, before the invasion of money took over.
When did you first go to Morocco? Did you immediately know you wanted to take parts of it home with you?
The first time I went to Morocco was about 10 years ago, when I went to Marrakech. I bought absolutely everything I saw - the amount of shipments home was kind of insane. It was my first foray into selling a few home items at SHEN and realizing that people not only wanted them but were also intrigued enough to request specific items if I was going back.
After going for so many years, how was this trip different from your past visits?
This time, I went with a mission based on all the requests I received coupled with sourcing newness in the souk. Ali, my friend who lives there, arranged for me to visit the factories and meet the makers which made me feel even more excited about bringing these goods to the States.
What do you think separates the pieces you have found in Morocco from home accessories you typically find in the US?
The major difference is the love and care that people pour into these pieces and the true craftsmanship they exude. There is always a mark on them. For example, typically when you turn over a piece of pottery you see the initials of the person who made it. It's those little unique touches that make you cherish each one for its individuality.
Do you have any details you can share about the process and artisans themselves?
There are so many, like the rug vendor I have been working with since my first time there, but one in particular was the maker of our Tamegroute pottery, named for the small town where much of it is made. His family has been making it for their kitchens in the desert for generations. To get the green color they use magnesium, copper and silica with white clay so that the colors really shine. All the pieces are fired in a 1200 degree wooden kiln. After four or five days it is as green as you see, which comes from the copper oxide. It is such an alchemical, magical process.
What is your favorite item in the collection?
I don't have one favorite piece, but if I had to choose it would be the individual ceramic geometric print vases that I hand picked. Many broke in transit so we just have a few. They are accented with a Yves Klein blue color that is so prominent in Chefchaouen and throughout Morocco, in particular because of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum
and his house there.
How have you incorporated the pieces into your own home?
My house has pieces from Morocco everywhere, from the rugs on the floor and throw pillows on beds and couches, to baskets all over and of course cheese boards, candle sticks, plates, and coffee mugs. I also have bigger pieces like an end table, a sofa, and a dresser in my son's room. At least once per day I touch something I purchased there.
Do you have any styling tips for incorporating them into your home?
Mix and match! Don't be too precious about it. The pieces look great with more modern furniture mixed in. For example, my Design Within Reach lounge chairs are modern and have a black cushion, but the pillows are all different vibrant colors. It sort of adds that element of humanity and comfortability to a place.
How would you suggest gifting these pieces? Would you pair them with any other SHEN favorites?
For a friend that doesn’t strive for perfection but does love ambiance: two candlestick holders (each is unique and handmade) with candles
and a USB lighter
, so they can fully set the table.
SHEN Limited Edition Jute Tote
Moroccan Ceramic Totem Candlesticks
Small Moroccan Berber Rug
Moroccan Ceramic Geometric Vases
Moroccan Berber Runner Rug
Moroccan Wood Serving Spoon
Moroccan Ceramic Large Candlestick
Moroccan Ceramic Small Bowls
Moroccan Ceramic Dinner Plates
Moroccan Wood Cheese Boards
Moroccan Water Glasses
Moroccan Ceramic Salad Plates
Moroccan Ceramic Serving Bowl
Moroccan Styled Glass Cups
Moroccan Ceramic Pedestal Platter
Moroccan Ceramic Speckled Vases
Moroccan Ceramic Ash Tray
Moroccan Woven Wine Basket