Hidden behind an unremarkable wooden door in the heart of Marrakech’s Medina lies the extraordinary house of Italian design duo Fabrizio Bizarri and Alessandra Lippini. Mention their names among the growing number of foreigners who are making Marrakech their home, and they will inevitably be greeted with nods of recognition and smiles of friendship. For the Europeans who have settled in Marrakech are a close-knit bunch, united by shared appreciation of the Moroccan way of life. In their ten years in Morocco, the two designers have become regular fixtures of the Medina. But, if the locals have grown accustomed to Fabrizio and Alessandra, you cannot help but wonder what they would make of their creation; the Ministero del Gusto.
Hidden in the exuberant bustle, the Ministero del Gusto is to be found in a small alley hidden behind a near invisible opening by one of the main arteries of the Medina. But, as soon as you step inside, there is no mistaking that this is something altogether different. The Ministero is not so much a home as a showcase for their design talents, it is an indication to potential clients of just what a unique space Fabrizio and Alessandra could create for them.
The first thing that strikes you is the incredible open courtyard in the centre of the building, where the sun shines down through the small opening in the roof, to cast the most wonderful and changing light upon the water beneath and the rough textured orange walls. Long wooden poles suspended over the clear blue water serve as a focal point, a centre of attention in this fantastic space. But, like any truly successful design, the real wonder of the Ministero is not solely visual. It is in its ability to captivate all of your senses and to affect your state of mind. The space is cool and calming, an escape from the Moroccan sun, but the infusion of light from above and the rich orange walls lift the spirits and remind you of just what a magical place is to be found beyond the front door.
Simultaneously a haven away from the frenetic hustle of the Medina and a connection to it, it echoes the rich colours and varied textures to create a space that is tactile alters its mood with the movements of the sun. One of the most captivating features of life in Marrakech is the way in which every sight, sound and even smell seems to indicate the time of day. The sound of the Adhan from the many mosques all serve as an indication of exactly what is happening outside in the city.
Upstairs, the views down onto the small pool are just as breathtaking but here other features of the space also compete for your attention. The fireplace is certainly unique and when the fire below is lit the whole top floor can be wreathed in smoke. The real treat, other than Alessandro’s enviable collection of vintage fashion, has to be the bathroom. The deep leather bath is filled from above by a tree trunk and conjures up images of standing beneath a waterfall in the open.
Showering in the open is also an option on the rooftop with its wonderful views across the neighbouring rooftops. The roof of the Ministero del Gusto is a large sun drenched space where the vibrant orange has been bleached to perfection; ideal for lounging, enjoying the weather and engaging in a bit of neighbour watching.
Ministero del Gusto, 22 derb Azzouz, el Mouassine, Marrakech, Maroc.