The sculptural lighting designs are what initially caught my eye, and as their design portfolio keeps on expanding I thought it was time I had a chat with Hamimi creative director Rebecca!
#1. Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I am the Creative Director of Hamimi, a boutique Marrakech-based design brand that I own with my brother Alex, who lives and works in Brisbane, Australia. We create original jewellery, handbags and lighting together with our team of local Marrakech artisans.
I have called Marrakech home since travelling here from Australia well over a decade ago. It was the romanticised tourist images that drew me here in the first place but it was the real Morocco that I fell in love with and that made me want to stay. Not too long after, I fell in love with my now husband, artist Larbi Cherkaoui (www.larbicherkaoui.com). I am also a painter, so we clicked right from the start even though at the time we spoke only different languages.
Hamimi’s design studio shares a building with Larbi’s art studio and gallery. With our 7-year-old son Soulaiman, we live in Gueliz, a busy cosmopolitan area just outside the Marrakech Medina.
Before Hamimi, I had a small Kaftan boutique in the medina with another Australian expat. Before moving to Morocco I had my own Interior Design Practice (Space Cadet Design) and owned and operated a number of restaurants and cafes in the coastal city of Wollongong, just south of Sydney.
Hamimi actually began as a shop in Brisbane in late 2010. At that stage, we offered a mix of our own designs amid handpicked Moroccan pieces encompassing furniture, lighting, rugs, homewares and fashion. Although that was an enjoyable experience, Its the design and creation of our own products that has always been at the heart of what we do and love the most. Today Hamimi is based in Marrakech and we focus solely on designing and making only our own products.
Our team of Moroccan artisans are at the heart of Hamimi. They bring life to our vision.
All of our crochet products (jewellery and lighting) are handcrafted by women artisans from a small village just outside of Marrakech. Crochet is a craft passed on through generations of women in this village. They typically crochet blankets and clothing for their own use as well as skull caps, called Taqiyah, that are worn by many Moroccan men.
My house-keeper Fatiha and her extended family live in this village and this is how our relationship with the community began. Fatiha’s mother and sister are among the women that make our crochet lamps and her niece Loubna helps in our studio and also is the model for our fashion accessories (she has never modelled before).
Making our products gives these women the opportunity to extend their skills and the potential to generate much needed additional income. The benefits are clearly much more than just financial, as their sense of purpose, hope for the future and connection to a bigger world has also grown. As the awareness and demand for our crochet lamps grow we are able to train more women so that the benefits to the community will reach even further.
It is quite amazing to see our crochet lamps, created in a humble village in Morocco, hanging in designer hotels, restaurants and homes all over the world.
#2. What is the inspiration behind your designs?
Daily life in Marrakech provides an endless source of creative inspiration. It’s a place where you can have one foot in the very distant past and the other seemingly in the future. Our designs embrace the old and the new, combining traditional Moroccan materials and techniques with a contemporary sensibility.
Our designs begin with a spark of inspiration and then develop with sketchpad, pencil, paint palette, material swatches and coffee at hand. I appreciate texture and I’m not afraid of using colour. I favour the use of natural materials and simple, minimal shapes. I like to mix old and new, traditional and modern to produce items of contemporary yet timeless appeal. My simple aim is to design things that I would love to wear or adorn my own home.
#3. What is the best part of the design process for you?
I just love creating things. It’s in my blood; my mother is an artist and my father has always enjoyed making things, he sewed my mum’s wedding dress and built the house he lives in today.
The best part of the design process for me is the beginning – when you are fuelled with inspiration and a have a clear table and a clean page in the sketchpad in front of you – the possibilities are endless and exciting. But they say there is a fine line between pleasure and pain, and that certainly applies throughout the creative process for me. Turning something that is in my mind’s eye into a tangible finished product can be a long and sometimes frustrating process which involves many pairs of hands.
I often get carried away and have many more design ideas than we can feasibly create. Thankfully, my very practical assistant Sarah is here to pull the reigns in on me a little.
#4. Plans and dreams for the year ahead.
One of our greatest priorities at the moment is to find a new home for Hamimi in the Marrakech Medina. Our design studio is currently co-located with my husband’s (artist Larbi Cherkaoui) art studio and gallery about 20 minutes drive from the Medina. We plan to create a unique destination space that houses our working design studio together with a retail and wholesale showroom.
We will also release an entirely new collection of jewellery and handbags a little later this year. We have lots of interesting designs brewing at the moment, just need a little clear space to focus and refine our ideas.
#5. Where can people buy your designs?
In Marrakech, a wide selection of our products are always available from the wonderful, contemporary design store ’33 Rue Majorelle’, which is conveniently located opposite the entrance to Majorelle Gardens. For people further afield, our products are also available to order via our website (www.hamimidesign.com) and we ship worldwide. Hamimi products are also stocked at a growing number of select retail stores in various counties around the world. We try to keep an up to date list of stockists on our website.
#6. And finally – your favourite place for coffee (or tea) in town.
There is a cafe on almost every corner in Marrakech. My pick is Cafe Yasmine, an old school place just across the road from our home. It’s not so much about the coffee here, but the regulars from the local community that gather here to chat and watch Marrakech daily life unfold.
I visit my family back in Brisbane a couple of times a year. Don’t tell them this, but one of the reasons I go back so often is for the coffee. Coffee in Australia is seriously good. My favourite place for a coffee in Brisbane is West End Coffee House. They do incredible, authentic Thai food too.