I started Londonienne after having my children to offer Moroccan French inspired soft furnishings and accessories. To me, “tribal” or “ethnic” isn’t a fad but an intrinsic part of my heritage. I can also see multiple ways of drawing on this heritage to create modern home decor that can blend as easily in a Marrakesh ryad as in a British Victorian home. The company is based in the UK but has an international scope. Although most products I sell are manufactured in France or Morocco, I will source materials from anywhere in the world. I like to keep an open mind in my designs and look for the best patterns and fabrics. What is equally important to me is practicality and convenience. Therefore, wherever possible, my soft furnishings are easy to care for and wash.
My last trip was in May. It started in Casablanca where most of my family is. I feel blessed to have this eclectic circle and friends and a loving extended family. Casablanca, despite the congestion and the pollution is my favorite city in Morocco. That is where my parents were born, where I spent the most idyllic summers and where I got married. This city, for anyone who knows it, has so much to offer, the markets, old and recent, the architecture, a kaleidoscope of influences, the docks, religious buildings, a most importantly, the people, Arabs, Berbers, Muslims, Jews and Christians.
And as much as I like the affluent areas of Casablanca and their lush gardens and elegant terraces, my heart belongs to the populous areas, the ones where little has changed, where Moroccan core values still prevail, beyond technology. I love that you can go out and buy steamed broad beans sprinkled with cumin out of a newspaper at midnight. I like that you can jump into a “cab” mean for five people that manages to squeeze seven strangers including two people sharing the passenger seat. I also love how, I don’t get called the Moroccan equivalent of Ma’am but “Aunty”, and how children still get raised by the whole immediate community.
So, it is only natural that I decided to start a business that enables me to share some of my Moroccan heritage and work with Moroccans. My family has always been involved one way or another in the manufacturing of clothes. From as long as I can remember, an old manual Singer sewing machine has been taking pride of place at my grand parents. And my mother remembers going to the Houbous, the old town of Casablanca closest to the King’s Palace with her own mother where they used to pick up work from the tailors. My grand mother would sew little girls dresses from home and my mum, at the tender age of 5 or 6 would contribute by sewing the buttons. As Casablanca grew, more companies started outsourcing the manufacturing of their clothes there. So uncles and aunts took various jobs as seamstresses, embroiderers, pattern makers, clothes manufacturing electronic machines support, quality control, training and more.
Also, as obvious as it sounds, Morocco is so different from any other country in Europe. Where we buy in France or the UK, things mostly factory made, Moroccans still buy items that are custom made buy tailors, upholsterers and carpenters. This is not reserved to the very affluent, anyone buys customized items according to their means. The growing Moroccan middle class also likes to follow fashion. This means that I went with my family countless times to various fabric markets to buy kaftan fabrics and choose upholstery fabric to redecorate “sedaris”, traditional Moroccan sofas. I also loved how we celebrate Eid by having a new jellaba or kaftan made. I love how we can choose everything from the fabric, the embroidery style and colour, the little galon accessories and shape, it is wonderful to be able to have so much freedom to be creative with your own home and clothes.
When I first went to live on my own, as a student and young professional, I remember how bland the affordable sofas felt. To try and make up for it on a budget, I would measure my sofas and have an upholsterer in Morocco make a washable cover from a fabric of my choice in Casablanca. However, Morocco doesn’t have the monopoly of amazing fabrics, in fact, a large quantity of fabrics are imported from various countries. Having grown up in Europe, my own tastes are a fusion of North African, Arabic and Western influences. And this is exactly what I want to incorporate in my designs. I want to offer items that are both contemporary and reminiscent of all these cultural references.
Today, although the UK in general and London in particular is full of creatives and wonderful products, I feel there is still a gap to be filled in soft furnishing. There is still a way to make our interiors more fun and original. So if you want to inject some color and ethnic inspired design to your home, you have come to the right place.