As a life-long learner, I’m a fan of spending my Saturdays in artists’ studios in Marrakech learning a new craft or trade. When travelling, it’s often an experience I seek out, particularly after spending 1.5 days with a fashion designer in Budapest learning leather smithing and handbag design (let’s just say I was in heaven).
So I was delighted when I met Abderrazak Houdzi, owner of Ateliers D’Ailleurs, a company that encourages its guests to roll up their sleeves and learn a Moroccan craft or trade inside artists’ studios and workshops throughout Marrakech. Zellig tilework, the colourful tadalakt finishing technique, basket-making, pottery and even cooking. Through the workshops Ateliers D’Ailleurs organizes, I’ve had the chance to make a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, piece together a mosaic tile and hammer a copper bowl during the three-hour sessions that take place in artists’ studios throughout the medina.
But it’s about more than just the craft. It’s the opportunity to meet the maker and hear his or her story. To chat about his trade and understand how he became master. It’s the chance to meet the person responsible for the goods you might find for sale in the souks and understand the challenges and opportunities artisans face. It’s the opportunity to spend a few hours in a workshop, picking up the tools of the trade while laughing and sharing a couple cups of tea in between producing something to take home. And as Abderrazak says in the podcast, “why buy it when you have the opportunity to create it”.
In fact, I always leave the workshop feeling so grateful for the opportunity to gain some insight in to local artisan life.
If, after listening, you want to start planning a Moroccan vacation, get in touch and I’ll put you in contact with Cris from Sun Trails Morocco, a private tour operator based in Marrakech. Having travelled with Sun Trails and Cris personally, I can attest that he is just genuinely passionate about discovering the hidden gems dotting the country. And meeting people like architects and musicians undertaking interesting initiatives. He then puts all this together in an itinerary for guests who are looking for more than just a standard tour of Morocco. He’s been on the podcast twice, so if you want to find out more, check out episode one and episode 19.
And one last request, if you are a fan of Why Morocco, I would be so grateful if you rate and review this podcast on your favourite channel or spread the love by sharing on your social media networks.