In 1947 French painter Jaques Majorelle opened his Moroccan residential gardens to the public who delighted in the lush vegetation and peaceful promenades that offered a refreshing contrast to Marrakech’s hot and dusty streets. After Jaques’ death in 1962, the gardens began to deteriorate, and it wasn’t until fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Berge bought the property in 1980, that it was restored to it’s original state. 2008 marked another milestone in the history of the Jardin Majorelle as the ashes of the late Yves Saint Laurent were spread on the Majorelle grounds. Nearly one year later, Berge in collaboration with the Musee D’Orsay, announced the opening of a new exhibit within the walls of Majorelle’s Blue Studio. Staying true to Yves Saint Laurent’s mission to celebrate the Majorelle family and Islamic art through cultural exchange; the upcoming exhibit will feature prominent furnishings from Louis Majorelle and other Art Nouveau designers within the unique setting of a distinctly Islamic architectural environment.
The jewel of this exhibition is said to be the master bedroom, located on the second floor. Traditional Islamic design elements such as high arches, geometric textiles, mosaics and bright colors complement the organic lines, floral motifs and honey tones of the Art Nouveau furnishings. One can look forward to seeing Louis Majorelle’s lily themed Nenuphar bed, which floats above the floor on delicately splayed feet not unlike lily pads on a pond. Close to the entrance of the room sits a Majorelle mahogany writing desk paired with on one of Eugene Vallin’s artfully contoured chairs, which define a quiescent space, transforming this room into a refuge for creative thought. Across from the bed, an Emile Galle vase etched with lilies and daisies sits atop a carved Guimard cabinet like a blossom on a branch, paying tribute to the blossoming citrus tree traditionally planted in Islamic domestic courtyards. At the center of the room hangs a glass petaled chandelier by Victor Horta, which complements the star shaped Moroccan lanterns in the balcony beyond and below on the floor lies a Berber rug, which roots the space within the history of the land.
So far, reviews both Moroccan and European have praised this Majorelle Exhibit as being both thoughtful and engaging, while a special nod has been given to the overwhelming appreciation for nature evident in both Islamic art and Art Nouveau. These two unlikely styles come together seamlessly thanks to their appropriate placement within a space that honors the benefits of diversity through botany, art, construction and design.
Sources include: www.jardinmajorelle.com and Interior Design of the 20th Century; Massey, Anne (1990). London: Thames and Hudson.
The Federal architectural style bedroom that hosts the canopy bed is a clear contrast to the Jardin Majorelle bedroom exhibit. Closed to the elements, the Federal bedroom features right angles and straight lines, which give the space a "stately" appearance. There are no visible references to nature (although the Federal style is known for it's appreciation of the Eagle) and the color pallet is quite subdued. Meanwhile the Art Nouveau/Islamic bedroom is light, airy and brightly colored like the garden outside. References to nature are recognizable through geometry, glasswork and carvings, which help to bring the outdoors inside. Curved arches and whiplash lines are anything but straight and the overall effect is comforting and organic.
The guest chamber of the Melbury Road House in London's Kinsington district is in the medieval style which exhibits a mastery of curved surfacing (the vaulted ceiling) and nature inspired ornamentation found in the tapestries and furnishings of the time. Advocating a "garden full of life" this Melbury guest chamber is similar to the Jardin Majorelle bedroom, which pulls from nature through a similar use of ornamentation and curved lines.