Fifteen minutes by car from the sun-baked, red-clay walls of the 12th-century Marrakech medina, where neatly paved asphalt gives way to dusty, uneven earth, a discreet sign announces Jnane Tamsna – five honey-hued villasowned by interior designer-cum-hotelierMeryanne Loum-Martin. It’s my favourite bolthole in the 30,000-acre Palmeraie, a date-palm forest turned chic suburb, and normally I come to stay for a few days. This visit is different: I’m here to shop.
Having long sought Loum-Martin’s opinion on North African design, I am excited to explore her recently opened Jnane Tamsna Garden Gallery. Born in Ivory Coast, Loum-Martin studied architecture for two years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and later followed her heart into design. Her discerning eye, evident throughout the 24-room, oft-photographed Jnane Tamsna property, uncovers the elegance of Moroccan style beyond the souk-inspired glitz.
I accept a welcome kiss from Loum-Martin’s perennial sidekick, a Rhodesian Ridgeback called Diva, and together we walk past the palm-fringed swimming pool to thehigh-ceilinged, glass-walled Garden Gallery pavilion (pictured). Moroccan carpets (from £265) have been strewn across the polished concrete floors, laid upside-down to understated effect. I gravitate towards an intricately patterned strip of raffia and black cotton (£130), which Loum-Martin tells me she picked up in Senegal from textile artist Aissa Dionne. In my mind, I’m already cutting it into two ultra-chic cushion covers.
The cavernous room offers up a bevy of wonders. Camel-bone-inlaid side tables are displayed alongsidea low-slung, curvilinear dark-wood stool (£358) from the Congo, oversized minimalist copper lanterns (£230) and bold suzanis (from £380) from Loum-Martin’s last trip to Turkey. The gallery’s walls are no less alluring, hung with palm-tree-silhouette drawings (£715) and moody, multipanel Moroccan-landscape paintings (£9,500) by expatriate artist Philippe Deltour.
All of this is foreplay, however; I have come to acquire one of Loum-Martin’s original furniture designs – a round, four-tiered brass table (£950) that has been assiduously hammered in a local style called dinanderie. Working closely with local artisans, Loum-Martin is preserving traditional Moroccan practices with every commission, but to me this singular design represents a modern tribute to this ancient land’s craftsmanship, in the most stylish of ways.