For artist and designer Madeline Weinrib, a chance meeting during a holiday in Morocco sparked a passion that has taken her back countless times over the course of nearly the past two decades. “When I’d just started designing, I was on a trip to Morocco and was introduced to someone in the carpet business by a mutual friend,” she tells The Window. Having grown up surrounded by the world of New York mainstay ABC Carpet & Home, which was founded by her great-grandfather, Weinrib was instantly drawn to the vintage Moroccan textiles the dealer showed her.
“It was really an eye opener to see how beautiful the carpets were,” she says. “They were extremely modern, and I was taken aback at their beauty and sophistication. They looked like drawings—spontaneous and fast—but they were actually very time-consuming and deliberate weavings. They’ve become the inspiration for much of my work.”
Since that initial trip in 1999, Weinrib has returned to Morocco on sourcing trips several times every year, yet she still finds new inspiration each time she visits. “I’m really in love with Morocco—the color sensibility, the food, the people, the weather. Even though I’m working when I’m there, I couldn’t be more excited than when I’m leaving to go to Morocco.” The colors, patterns, and materials she uncovers each find their way into Weinrib’s textiles, home goods, and yes, even her own hand-woven carpets. She even curated a collection of Moroccan goods for the pop-up shop she recently created for Barneys.
For her most recent trip, Weinrib spent two weeks traveling with her husband and was able to visit Marrakech, stop over in the Atlas Mountains, and continue on to Fez. Here, she gives an inside look at what has become one of her favorite places in the world.
SHOP ALL MADELINE WEINRIB
“I always stay at El Fenn when I’m in Marrakech. As with so many places in Morocco, they really know how to do red.”
“Another shot of El Fenn, which I consider my home away from home. We had some wonderful meals here this trip.”
“The colors at the spice market are always an inspiration.”
“These ceramics, seeking them out and discovering new ones, have become an obsession.”
“I have an extensive collection of Hands of Fatima—I buy them whenever I come to Morocco. The design has been utilized in many of my designs.”
“Shopping the souk, these babouches—traditional handmade Moroccan shoes—always catch the eye.”
“It seems every surface is a chance for decoration. These locked doors, which I find so beautifully graphic, just mean that the butcher is closed.”
“The baker, though, was open and actively selling his wares.”
“Since my first trip to Morocco in 1999, I have been drawn to the beauty of its tile work. It has been a huge inspiration in work.”
“The Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.”
French painter Jacques Majorelle spent 40 years building this 12-acre botanical garden, and the vibrant shade of blue he used throughout it is actually named Majorelle Blue in his honor. Weinrib has used this shade extensively in her collections. “I’ve used Moroccan architecture for inspiration in my collections, and certainly its color palette,” she says.
“The spa at La Mamounia is breathtakingly beautiful and a great place to spend an afternoon if you have any downtime in Marrakech. I rarely do.”
“As we made our way from Marrakech to Fez, we took time for a bit of rest and relaxation at the Kasbah Tamadot, a gorgeous hotel in the Middle Atlas Mountains. I started coming here very early on in my trips to Morocco, and I’ve seen how it’s transformed and grown it into a really top-notch hotel. If you want a few days just to relax and unwind, the hotel is lovely because there’s nothing to do other than enjoy the beautiful mountains, eat well, and make the most of the spa.”
“Ceramics shopping in Fez, which is a wonderful city and has a very old medina. My husband and I were recently married, and his big joke is that, for our honeymoon, we just went to the medina. He thinks, and he’s right, that I would much rather develop products, make things, and find treasures than go and lie on a beautiful beach.”
“The medina has old passages everywhere—it’s wonderful to explore, though it can be very intimidating. It’s a little otherworldly, and you have to feel comfortable in that kind of situation. But it feels medieval and is quite beautiful.”