February 18th, 2009

Cherry Blossom Closet

This might be a good time to share with you the closet doors that go with Skylar’s lace floor. This project ALMOST didn’t happen, and I’m so glad that it did because it’s SO FREAKIN CUTE IMHO! Maryam had sent me this super inspiration photo as a starting point.

Modello Inspiration

I apologize for NOT KNOWING the source, but think it is just very cool. It looks like puffy fabric shapes that have been applied to the wall. The morning before I actually left for Morocco I had just actually determined that I had run completely out of time to get another project designed and cut and there was no way that this was going to happen. Then, I started feeling JUST HORRIBLY GUILTY that Skylar wouldn’t get her closet done and her brother WOULD. You can imagine the potential for heartbreak there, I’m sure.

Modello Door Design

So, that afternoon I quickly designed (as in about 10 minutes) this random cherry blossom pattern pulling the simpler flower shapes out of the lace pattern. With the help of Heidi and our great production department here we got it set up and cut in time to stuff in my suitcase.

Modello Cherry Blossom Pattern

The design stretches across two closet doors which open in the middle. (shown here in the hallway where they were expertly painted by Cynthia)

Modello Cherry Blossom Pattern

I had purchased some packages of little round mirrors and gave Maryam the assignment of placing a few here and there. Aren’t they sweet?

New Modello Patterns

We are adding many of the designs that we did in Marrakech both to the Modello Designs website as Decorative Masking Patterns (one-time-use, vinyl stencils) and also turning many into reusable mylar stencils for the Royal Design Studio website. Yes, we are busy little bees here……

February 16th, 2009

Amazing Lace, How Sweet

Still reliving Marrakech, our loveliest project was stenciling a large custom lace pattern on a little sweetheart’s floor. Maryam wrote a beautiful post about her daughter here, and we were lucky to get an assist from darling Skylar herself.

Lace Stencil

She was very patient, meticulous, and quite proud-as well she should be!

Lace Stencil

The lace was simply done with grey concrete paint over a white base….

Lace Stencil

…and the large pattern was completed using two different sections. The stencil is NOW available through our Royal Design Studio website here. I so enjoyed working out this lace pattern that I am anxious to do more. Imagine how inspired I feel to have come back across a website for artist Cal Lane that I archived months ago that features gorgeous lace patterns used quite unexpectedly. As in….

Cal Lane

Wheelbarrows and shovels….

Cal Lane


Cal Lane

…oil drums…

Cal Lane

…and car parts.

This work is reminiscent of that from the Designed in Dust post and Cal also plays off that idea in some of her installation work. These patterns here are all plasma-cut from steel objects with the idea of creating “desirable oppositions”. From the artist’s statement

I like to work as a visual devil’s advocate, using contradiction as a vehicle for finding my way to an empathetic image, an image of opposition that creates a balance - as well as a clash - by comparing and contrasting ideas and materials.This manifested in a series of “Industrial Doilies”, pulling together industrial and domestic life as well as relationships of strong and delicate, masculine and feminine, practical and frivolity, ornament and function. There is also a secondary relationship being explored here, of lace used in religious ceremonies as in weddings, christenings and funerals.

This work truly blows me away. Let there be lace!

Updated 2/27/09
Skylar’s Lace is an international sensation (thanks to Maryam’s gorgeous photos and insane popularity). How cool that is it featured on Design*Sponge, de (coeur) acao, ZSOFI berendez!, Wide Open Spaces and More Ways to Waste Time. I don’t even know what language some of these are in but I’m grateful!

February 11th, 2009

Patterns of Lovely Light

I have SO many favorite things about Marrakech, but one of my favoratists is the amazing punched metal lanterns and the lacy patterns that they cast like metal stencils on the beautifully polished tadelakt walls.

Morocco lanterns

 Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Aren’t these just to die for?! I think that I must do some stencil patterns to achieve this look!

Photographed by Vicki Shultz at magical Le Tanjia. At night, of course…..

February 7th, 2009

Henna Party

I never shared the stair riser project that our first group did at Peacock Pavilions last May. My bad! This first set of “themed” risers is what inspired the most recent round. Those, in turn, were inspired by this blog post, where Maryam saw something that I designed here at our studio with all different stained border patterns.


The stairs we did in May were actually seen in this photo from Maryam’s blog, but they were covered with all our tired bodies, so here is the big reveal…..




and here….


and here. The theme was henna patterns, and I had TOO MUCH fun reworking classic henna designs into the borders for these stairs. We worked them in a simple color palette of three colors chosen to coordinate with the marble stair treads. These designs were stenciled directly on the painted plaster risers….


under very adverse working conditions…..


so to prime ourselves for the project we had a fun little henna party. The henna has long since faded, but the memories are still lovely. Good times!

February 3rd, 2009

Go Forth and Multiply

It’s amazing how a little design idea can snowball into something bigger, especially in one’s own head. Maryam had suggested a stair riser project similar to the one that we did last May in the 3 bedroom quest house (which I will share next…..). “If you could just do three different patterns and we could alternate them it would be great”, she said. I think she knows me too well by now! Of course three patterns simply wouldn’t do, as I told you here.

Moroccan Stencils Royal Design

How about 22 patterns, one unique for each stair riser? Well….OK! So, the paint-covered, used stencils piled up….

Moroccan Stencils Royal Design

…..as the ladies (here Heather and Margaret) took their time stenciling by a roaring fire to make sure that each was perfect….

Moroccan Stencils Royal Design

….and they are….

Moroccan Stencils Royal Design

….filling up a large dining table and waiting for Chris to CAREFULLY install them on the wooden staircase he has built.

Cottage Living Stair Risers

I imagine that they will look something like this photo from Cottage Living, which shows black and white patterns done on riser with tile. Most of these stencil patterns will be available shortly through Royal Design Studio (some in larger scales), and they will be equally lovely done in the classic bright tile colors of Morocco. 

January 30th, 2009

Art Deco Mural After Rateau

I’m back and ready to share some more Marrakech experiences from our recent painting project at Peacock Pavilions. First and foremost, I have to say how happy we were to come home to a new President (yeah!) and how grateful we were to be able to watch the inaguration together on the BBC in Maryam’s family room. Tears of joy were flowing!

Now to share my absolute favorite project from the trip-and I loved creating them all! This was my favorite not only because the “inspiration” was so divine, but it allowed me to stretch my artistic muscles a bit. You see, I spend WAY to much time focusing on my computer keyboard and business matters these days in favor of actually doing the artistic design work that got me brought me to this point in my life. I hope to find more balance between the two this year!!

Rateau Art Deco Screen

Armand Albert Rateau is the artist who created this amazing paneled screen for Jean Lanvin. Rateau is the decorating force behind Lanvin’s famous Paris apartment in rue Barbey-de-Jouy, which has been now partially conserved in the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts. I will be making a beeline for that place the next time I am lucky enough to visit Paris for sure!

Modello Mural in Morocco

The space is a headboard wall of one of the guest rooms, approximately 12.5′ wide by 11.5′ high. The artwork above shows the computer mockup of the design that was created by using a combination of Modello Decorative Masking Patterns and reusable mylar stencils (for the scattered flowers and stars). While I did borrow a couple of the leaf motif shapes from the original, the majority of the mural was created afresh to personalize it to Peacock Pavilions while attempting to maintain the Art Deco feel of the original.

Marrakech Modello Mural

A deep decorative dado was added to unify the wall and to also provide a painted decorative headboard to the beds, which will need to be positioned both as single twin beds and a double bed, depending on guest’s needs. Here, Margaret and Pam are laying out the initial panels that anchor the mural.


The Modello masking portion of the mural was divided into sections that easily fit together, following a key. We found that we had to complete each section at a time quickly, as a cold, damp, outward facing wall was repelling the adhesive. It rained quite a bit on the days we were working. We actually came back after lunch one day to find a piece lying crumpled on the floor. EEEEK!!

Marrakech Modello Mural

Above, Rebecca and Vicki are wrestling to remove the Transfer Tape while keeping pattern on the wall while the deer (and me) watched expectantly. These ladies were soooo patient and calm-skills needed by every decorative painter as “challenges” are inherent to most projects it seems! The olive tree was included, of course, because Peacock Pavilions sits in the middle of a beautiful olive grove!

Marrakech Modello Mural

The finishing touches were applied with stencils. Here, Cynthia is following the graphic to apply some of the random flowers and stars with stencils. You may be wondering how this beautiful gold effect was achieved. I toyed with the idea of using either metallic paint or real composition gold leaf, but opted instead to use one of my favorite quick and easy methods for creating a gilded effect: We combined Mica Powders at a ratio of 1:1 with Aquacreme (a scumble-type glaze medium) to create a thick, opaque, glimmering stencil “gel”. It dries fairly quickly when applied with a dry brush method, so you can layer quickly for dense coverage-even over black. We used 3 different colors, randomly applied, to achieve a somewhat “tarnished”, aged look.

Marrakech Modello Mural

It makes quite a lovely backdrop for a group photo, I think! Our hard working, hard shopping Peacock Painters this time were: (back row) Pam Grace, Margaret von Kaenel, Cynthia Davis, Barbara Rasmussen, Robin Johnston, Heather Bruno Sears, Melanie Royals, and (front row) Rebecca Hotop, Vicki Schultz, and Gwen Ware.

Marrakech Modello Mural

Maryam and me….

Marrakech Modello Mural

……the full view…..

Marrakech Modello Mural

…and a detail. Can you imagine how fun it will be to sleep under the watchful eye of these friendly creatures? I can’t wait to see how Maryam beautifully decorates this room, but I know it will be stunning. Individual patterns and motifs avalable soon through Modello Designs!

January 9th, 2009

I never met a tile pattern I didnt like

I’m obsessed with repetitive pattern. I am particularly fond of tile patterns. I have a MAJOR THING for order and symmetry. I am particularly captivated by the Zellij tile patterns that are literally everywhere in Morocco, with their underlying meaning of infinity and the omnipresent center. They just draw me in….

Zellij Tile Stencils

So when Maryam proposed painting another set of stair risers for our upcoming painting project at Peacock Pavilions and sent me this inspiration….

Madeline Weinrib

I began pour through my pattern books and photos for appropriate Zellij tile patterns that I thought would be PERFECT for this series.

Zellij Tile Stencils

I found some….

Zellij Tile Stencils

and some more….

Zellij Tile Stencils

and yet more….maybe I’m taking this “infinity” thing a little too much to heart?

Zellij Tile Stencils

But are these not AMAZING?! Many thanks to Michelle here, who worked with me turn these classic and universally appealing patterns into stencils (available next month on the Royal Design Studio website) in record time.

This website has some fabulous information on the history, use, and significance of Zellij patterns in Moroccan decoration. It’s a must read!

Want more photos?? There is a fantastic Zellij Tile set here on Flickr.

BTW Maryam’s My Marrakech blog is a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category and she needs YOUR vote! You can vote here through Tuesday, January 13th.

January 2nd, 2009

Last Call for Marrakech

First and foremost-HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that the coming year brings you peace, some prosperity, and many opportunities to explore and expand your creativity. If any one of your resolutions involves more adventurous travel, here is an opportunity for you:

We are returning to Marrakech to continue the painting projects at Peacock Pavilions in two weeks. YES! Two weeks. We have a lovely new group of ten going, but there is room to squeeze in one more Peacock Painter. We will be applying stenciled pattern to floors, a mural wall, chairs and stairs. The projects have a low degree of difficulty and a high degree of interesting applications and interpretations. The two floor projects are for the rooms of Maryam’s lovely children, Tristan and Skylar.

Skylar will soon be padding around on a lovely cream and gray, large-scaled, lace floor. This will be a new stencil for Royal Design Studio and I had some fun imagining different color combinations for it!

Lace stencil

Tristan will be trodding on an equally interesting floor; this one featuring layers of typography (surrounding a maze pattern )that highlight important life lessons, lucky numbers and Marrakech geography.

Modello stencil typography

We are all getting very excited about the trip. This will be my 3rd trip to Marrakech in the last year (lucky, lucky me!) and the first for the rest of the group. This will not be an all work/no play trip (heaven forbid!). We are going to dine deliciously, shop for vintage Berber carpets (among many other things!), tour amazing architectural treasures, go quading in the desert and learn how to cook like a Moroccan. Are you jealous?? Would you like NOT to be?? Info on the trip is here. We are all on the same flight from JFK to Marrakech and the airfare has dropped to under $1,000. Tempting, isn’t it??

September 24th, 2008

Return to Marrakech

Marrakech is calling. Maryam and I have been emailing. A return trip to Marrakech is in my near future-and maybe yours?? I will be taking a small group on a painting trip this December to continue the creative work that was begun last May at Peacock Pavilions. I thought you’d like a peek into some of the inspiration for the featured project….

Maryam’s master bedroom ceiling will be aglow with a decorative treatment inspired by this pillow I snapped while visiting ABC Carpet&Home in NYC…

Modello in Marrakech

as well as the gorgeous, shimmery Moroccan Wedding blankets that Maryam sells.

Modello in Marrakech

Let’s just say that our project will involve imitation silver leaf and tiny round mirrors. Can you see it?!

Modello in Marrakech

Some mod chairs snatched from La Mamounia may get some interesting calligraphy…

Modello in Marrakech

A concrete bedroom floor will be painted with an intriguing labyrinth pattern from our forthcoming new collection…

Modello in Marrakech

and the project that has me drooling….a feature wall with a two color metallic graphic based on this amazing screen. The animals you see will be joined by some friends, including an artful peacock, of course!

Modello in Marrakech

There are still a few spots open for this upcoming trip. If you’re up for an adventure that includes adding your artistic skills to the forthcoming premier boutique hotel in Marrakech ;) , soaking in the sights, sounds, aromas and tastes of an exotic tourist destination, quading in the desert, enjoying the amazing hospitality of Maryam and the quaint Hotel du Tresor, AND doing your Christmas shopping in Marrakech’s famous souks, you might just want to click here…..

June 16th, 2008


“Hard as stone and soft as silk” is a phrase that is commonly used to describe a very uncommon, ancient form of plaster that is believed to trace it’s roots to the Atlas Mountains surrounding Marrakech. This unbelievably tactile and sensuous surface, which is waterproofed by burnishing repeatedly with a stone and further sealed with olive soap, used to be reserved for hammams (public steam baths) and royal palaces. It can now be found in most of the stylish riads and chic restaurants of Marrakech, where pierced tin lanterns fixed with colored glass cast amazing color and shadow on its rich, glossy surface. Positively dreamy. Here are some images from the Hotel du Tresor and Les Bains de Marrakech.


The little tower on our upstairs patio.


Peeking through a keyhole door (this room is best for short people, I think)


“My” bathroom


Reflections on a wall….


and a ceiling.

The very prettiest examples were in some of the restaurants, though, like Narwama and Le Tanjia. Click through to view!