Morning all! I’m Neille (said Neil – like a boy) but people call me Dave – that’s brothers-in law for you! [Guys, this is Dana. Just for the record – Neille is actually a girl, in case you are confused!] I’m a Sydney-based architect/interior designer. Dana and I have been friends for years since meeting at work way back when I was a recent graduate. After four years in London, I’m Sydney-side again but despite being back a year now, part of me is still in London and Europe. Unlike your typical guest bloggers, I don’t have my own blog, I don’t even tweet (and rarely use Facebook). So when Dana asked me to guest blog I thought I’d take a step outside my comfort zone.

I think my passions can be quite easily wrapped up in three words; designtravel and food – in no particular order or one changing on a daily basis. So whilst our leading lady is enjoying the lures of Europe I thought I’d share something that encompasses all three – the inspiring and charming Fes. And I’m not talking about the hat, but the city [although I did pick up one very stylish orange leather fes hat whilst there]. Nowhere has had such an impact on me, both personally and as a designer, quite like Morocco, and more specifically Fès.

The word undiscovered seems a little too ‘Indiana Jones’. Untouched? Authentic? Sure there are taxi’s, mobile phones and a more than anticipated scattering of satellite dishes, but the rest of life in Fès seems fabulously halted in the medieval ages.

With an authentic functioning medina, Fès has a rich but rough culture, full of contrast and a unique combination of beauty and disrepair. It’s an enormous labyrinth of narrow alleyways, but whilst meandering through them you’d swear you were in a tiny remote village. It sits on a rugged hillside so the racing scooters and honking cars you find in Marrakesh don’t exist there, and access by foot or donkey adds to the simple charm. But that is not to say it is quiet or peaceful; making you’re way through you never now what’s around the next bend, be it the cackling of caged chickens and the screeches and smells of them being killed or that of fresh bread baking.

But it was the craftsmanship that blew me away. Everywhere people make incredible, handmade ‘things’. Everywhere doors are open and workshops tumble into the ‘street’. They are twisting lengths of yarn in the street, weaving fabrics and knotting carpets, painting tagines, tattering away making brass lanterns and tabletops, metal forgers making elaborate door knockers and those chipping away making teeny tiny mosaic tiles.

The Fès tanneries use methods from the eleventh century dyeing cow, goat and camel hide with vegetable dyes. The hides are soaked for about a month so you can imagine how chuffed we were to get ‘red month’, dyed with pomegranate pulp and a scattering of small yellow hides dyed with saffron.

Bottom two photos by Amit Kuckerja (trip-mate)

And I am still thanking my fellow architect and luxe-loving workmate ‘tini for recommending we stay at Riad Fès. It is an incredible Moorish masterpiece with overwhelming attention to detail, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it is right up there with the Alhambra. The crazily talented architect and local Fassi, Chakir Sefrioui, bought it and spent three years respectively restoring it and later went on to extend it. He managed to balance the extensive mosaics and elaborately engraved plasterwork without being over the top. Every vista took my breath away, it is beyond words, I was speechless, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking…..

And I haven’t forgotten about food… NEVER!

I wish I was one of those people who photograph their food because the pastilla I had in Fes was to die for. A pastilla is kind of sweet and spicy almond and traditionally pigeon but in my case chicken fried pie – I know, it sounds strange but trust me, it’s a must!

Man… now I feel like moving to Fès and restoring a riad… lottery ticket anyone?

[All images by Neille Hepworth unless otherwise stated.]

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar

    Neille, thanks for sharhing your trip and love for Fes. Great post and images, can’t wait to get there.
    You have inspired me to make it my next years OS trip!

  2. Avatar

    That’s a great post. I’ve been to Marrakech but never to Fes. After reading your post i’m thinking that was a mistake to pass it up. I will have to go back. Thanks for the motivation!


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