Monday 26th June 2017

Marrakech with Philomena

An old friend of mine who has written on Neon Cactus quite a few times, is opening a Riad in Marrakech, she worked alongside the talented interior designer Romain Michel Meniere and here she shares her story with us. A small glimpse into their Riad and her tips on Marrakech..

How long have you been going to Morocco?

I have been going to Morocco for seven years now and no sign of the famous seven year itch as yet!

Tell us a little bit about what state the house was in when you found it?

The house was much as it is now in terms of layout but we entirely renovated it and added the master bedroom suite to that was previously a terrace. Despite the fact that it was just a renovation project it somehow still managed to take years until we got everything perfect.

What was your inspiration whilst decorating it?

I worked together with a brilliant interior designer, Romain Michel Meniere, but in a funny way we had no initial inspiration or moodboard. The house always had a very calm feel even before we renovated so we brought that out even more by keeping the look quite minimal and white. It has really become a very calming and relaxing space.

The color palette (or lack thereof) –quite unusual for jewel colored Morocco – was offset by the 1950s furniture we found in the flea markets there. It all started with a metal and glass table actually and the rest of the decoration sort of followed from that.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on integrating our two acres of farm – which is forty-five minutes out of Marrakech – into the Riad Mena concept. It is a fully functioning permaculture farm, so all the amazing organic fruit, herbs, vegetables, cold pressed olive oil, jams and honey from our bees will be brought to the Riad for guests to enjoy there.

Guests can also spend the day at the farm sitting amongst the olive trees, enjoying a raw food picnic lunch, rooftop yoga classes with amazing mountain views or guided meditation in the gardens.

I am really excited to turn theses places into a creative and holistic hub that people can dip in and out of and leave feeling grounded and re-inspired.

What are you top tips in Marrakech?

A secret tip that isn’t in any of the guidebooks is dinner at the private home of a wonderfully sparky Japanese lady called Umiko. She cooks an incredible seven course Japanese meal at hers, by which hers is an old Riad converted to look like a Florentine church, decorated in opulent style. You feel like you are at one of Henry VIIIs banquettes and the food is amazing. It´s a great place to go with a group of friends.

Where do you live at the moment?

Home is where my hat is at the moment, but I am spending a lot of time between Marrakech, Stockholm, Munich, London and Paris.

Favorite restaurant?

In London I truly love Trullo. The food is amazing; seasonal and inventive but not overdone. All the staff working there are real foodies so you always get wonderful recommendations with a perfect wine to match. Ask for a booth in the vaulted ceilinged basement, super fun for a Prosecco and food overdose with friends.

Where is your perfect holiday destination?

New York for an energy / inspiration fix and Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos for a full on relax.

What inspires you?

I find that when I do a lot of yoga I become very inspired as I am more in flow with everything. Ideas and people have a habit of coming to me when I am in this state of openness towards life.

What are your current obsessions?

Bees! I am so excited to have my own beehives in the country and start making lots of different types of delicious honey.

Favorite Film?

The Little Mermaid. (remnant from my childhood…)

You can wear 3 designers for the rest of your life. Who are they?

Christoph Lemaire for Hermès. Understated, amazingly crafted, timeless.

Issey Miyake. His pieces never fail to stand out whilst still letting the wearer stand out more. Plus they are amazingly easy to pack for all my travelling!

by Thiel jewelry. It hasn’t even launched yet but I am desperately awaiting my first necklace, which is of a Buddha head & Karma wheel. The jewelry is all about balance and each piece has an amazing energy. Beautiful talismans for life!

The Riad is currently being feature in the latest copy of Wallpaper magazine!


The Independent Art Fair

Spring weather and a plethora of art fairs hit New York last week, resulting in even more running around this city than is usually done in order to take it all in. The most established of the fairs – The Armory Fair – proved a disappointment for many but there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of The Independent Art Fair. Tucked in a small building at the bottom of 22nd Street in the midst of Chelsea, the calm atmosphere of The Independent proved the perfect antidote to the large tents in which most of the other art fairs found themselves. With galleries such as Bortolami, Gavin Brown Enterprise and Sprüth Magers taking part, the fair showcased some of the best that contemporary art has to offer at the moment, a refreshing alternative to the more staid atmosphere of the more established galleries. Combined with a rooftop serving great coffee and a view of the Hudson, The Independent is the one to watch when the art world circus starts again next year!

About Philomena : London born German Philomena Schurer Merckoll has finally settled in New York after trying out various cities including Paris, Dublin and Berlin. She is currently living and eating well in Manhattan whilst studying for an MA in Contemporary Art. She will be contributing on everything from current New York events,  insider tips of the city as well other locations around the world. Welcome to Neon Cactus Philomena!

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