Moroccan designs everywhere


Moroccan designs are everywhere lately – on wallpaper, on stencils for walls, on pillows and fabrics. I traveled to Spain with my family last fall, which makes me especially glad to see that these beautiful patterns have become so popular now. We spent a little time in Seville in the south of Spain, where the influence and architecture of the Moors, who ruled Spain for 800 years before the Christians took over, is very prominent. You can see in the pictures here that representational art did not exist at that time in Moorish culture. Intricate geometric and abstract patterns abound, however, often implemented in tile as part of the architecture of the buildings.

So, some examples of Moroccan design in their original execution follow.

But first: A very touristy picture to start with – this is us on a buggy ride tour of Sevilla (Seville to Americans) and outskirts:

And now for the design:

This is the Alcazar in Seville, originally a Moorish fort and later renovated as a castle for a Christian king, so that elements of both Islamic and Christian architecture are evident. This features in this picture (above) are purely Islamic, though. As is also true in the one below, a slightly fuzzy (sorry) image of a tiled wall, also in the Alcazar.

These intricately tiled walls are everywhere, many times sporting multiple patterns adjacent to each other:

It’s a total feast for the eyes. Pattern, pattern everywhere. And yet, the geometric nature of the designs makes the overall look appear somehow simple despite their complexity.

And now, turning to todays world, here are just a small sample of the many items I’ve seen lately for the home, all derivative of  – or simply reproduced –  Moroccan designs.

Eight-Pointed Stars Moroccan Stencil from Royal Design Studio. They have a whole category of Moroccan wall stencils. This one is called the Moroccan Key Stencil:

The Flutter rug from Anthropologie has an intricate pattern very reminiscent of these Moorish patterns, even if not strictly Islamic in origin:

This one is the Floral Fresco rug, also from Anthropologie. It too evokes the beautiful decorative tile work we saw so much of in Spain.

And a pillow from the Home Decorators Collection. Pillows are a fun way to add a touch of a design element to your home without making a big commitment. They’re relatively inexpensive, and easy to replace or recover when your tastes change.

I find all of these patterns very appealing, and I guess others do too, since we’re seeing them so prominently in decor these days. It makes me wonder what cultural influence is over the horizon. I’m going to enjoy this one while the trend lasts, since it brings back great memories of our travels!

Stencils – the new faux finishes

There are so many fun ideas out there for wall treatments right now. Paint has always been the easiest way to make a dramatic change in the look and feel of a room. Then there were faux finishes – ragging, stucco-like looks, marbleizing, etc. Now there are these fabulous stencils out there to add patterned interest to small or large areas of a room. Check these out:

For an elegant look:


Or a botanical theme:


How about a Moroccan tiled look, a style that’s found quite a footing lately:


Or last but not least, a just plain fun look:


All of the above come from Cutting Edge Stencils. You can find them here, along with dozens of others designs to whet your creative appetite:

I have not used one of these yet, but have read of others using them. What I hear is that they adhere well to the wall so that the paint does not drip down behind the stencil, and the registration marks on the stencils are easy to use so that if the design is a repeating one, it’s not hard to get the repeat to come out accurately. Right now I’m in the process of rethinking our family room, and one of these is definitely on the list of strong possibilities!