Marrakesh's bustling streets hold surprises at every corner. There are shops selling exotic wares from alluring spices, teas, confectionery to the most intricate handicrafts. And as you walk through the streets, navigating your way through horse-carriages, street-vendors, snake charmers and monkey handlers, you often chance upon hidden courtyards tucked away behind ornately carved doors. Not in a million years would you guess that behind those doors lie secret gardens that offer shade and respite from your frenzied sightseeing and shopping.
The Garden Majorelle, one of Marrakesh's star attractions, was created by the Morocco-loving French painter, Jacques Majorelle, whose father was an artisan and the famous cabinetmaker Louis Majorelle. Subsequently, the garden was preserved and made famous by yet another Shokunin, fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent. Garden or Jardin Majorelle is located on Rue Yves Saint Laurent named in his honor as he saved it from demolition in 1980.
The garden design is steeped in Moroccan and Berber motifs and colors. The various structures inside the garden are lavishly painted in an electric blue, named Majorelle Blue, paying homage to its creator. The use of this shade of blue can be found all over Morocco on buildings, tiles and doors. This magical blue hue infiltrates the soul with its ocean-like depth, and the mystery of the blue-bottles that Alice drinks from in Wonderland. The liberal use of color all through the garden is dreamy, with pops of sunshiny-yellow and citrus-oranges, juxtaposed with electric blue and succulent greens. The garden has labyrinths of green succulents, water fountains, citrus trees and bright Bougainvillea that invite you in its arms. Once you visit this garden, it will plant itself firmly in your heart!
The NYC based women artisans of Shokunin have drawn inspiration from these colors and motifs in crafting the hand-embroidered coasters that pay homage to the designs of two French Artisans: Majorelle and Laurent. The coasters are an amalgamation of global inspiration, French design, Moroccan motifs, Dutch-African Wax prints, and South Asian Kantha hand-embroidery combined to form a product that is uniquely American. These ethically-made coasters reflect the globalized world that lets us take the best of everything on the planet. On the surface these coasters are art for your table-top, but they really represent our collective global cultural heritage. After all we are just part of one big family! We are both humbled and honored in crafting a movement that is preserving our cultures while creating livelihood opportunities for marginalized women artisans. Join us in crafting this movement!