RosemaryA project by the famous Moroccan artist LRNCE, is a testament to the allure of the Eternal City. With its doors open to welcome the world, guests are invited to step into a space where art and hospitality seamlessly intertwine. Rosemary promises not only a place to rest one’s head, but an immersive journey into a captivating world designed by LRNCE, where every corner reveals stories of Morocco’s vibrant heritage and the artist’s creative spirit. Here, co-founders and partners Laurence Lenart and Ayoub Boualem reveal their vision for the fabric of art and residency that is Rosemary.
Natalie Stocklett: What is the role of art in the hotel?
Lawrence and Ayoub: A hotel needs to exude a sense of personality, and art is the perfect medium. We reached out to artists we already knew, most of them friends, who contributed custom pieces for Riad Rosemary, a traditional Moroccan house known specifically for its enclosed garden and courtyard. The individual identities and philosophies that shine through her pieces give our space its personality.
NS: What is the story that Rosemary seeks to tell?
L&A: Rosemary is a continuation of our in-house brand LRNCE. Over the years, we have developed many products, most of which are handmade and for interior purposes. With Rosemary, we pushed ourselves to create a space where guests could experience our lifestyle and art of living. This transition from products to experience is what we tried to communicate, from the moment the guest arrives until they leave.
NS: Is the artistic process similar to the design process?
L&A: The artistic process and the design process are similar in the way they both begin with understanding the craft and connecting with the artisans. Once we understand the possibilities and how far we can go, Lawrence starts drawing and we start sampling in collaboration with the craftsmen. The main difference is function. While the creative process may focus on the object and its characteristics—colors, materials, shapes—the design process should put function first, especially when designing a space intended for guests. In our riad, this meant creating a thoughtful, calm and harmonious space. A place where guests can take it easy.
NS: Tell us more about Riad Rosemary.
L&A: The Rosemary Project began with an amazing encounter – a French woman named Rosemary visited our studio 5 years ago and convinced us that the riad she wanted to sell was ours. We ended up visiting with her the next day and we absolutely fell in love. The riad was designed by Belgian architect Quentin Wilbo, who was appointed by UNESCO to map the Medina in the 1990s. During his time in Marrakesh, he renovated more than a hundred riads, and Rosemary is one of them.
Our Riad is a traditional building. It is built around a courtyard featuring a magnificent 40-year-old jacaranda tree that acts like a sculpture at its heart. We have combined its traditional architecture with a more modern vision. We used the same patterns in several different locations, and defined a color palette rooted in LRNCE throughout the property. The research behind combining different materials, from clay to terrazzo, is what helped us create the unique DNA of rosemary.
NS: What are some of your favorite artworks in the hotel?
L&A: There’s a large painting of two octopuses by Lieven Deconinck hanging above the pool, a pigment-and-sand painting by Natasha Mankowski in the living room, and a sculpture by Bart Vansteenkiste on a niche in the living room.
NS: Why did you get into the hotel business?
L&A: Building a space with our DNA seemed like an organic continuation of our work. We’ve designed many custom pieces for other hotels in the past, from oversized textiles to bed covers, and we knew we could create our own pieces ourselves. We have always been drawn to the hospitality of Morocco, known for its warmth and generosity, and were convinced that we could make our own impact by creating a space where design and hospitality are signatures.
NS: What makes a hotel special to you?
L&A: It’s about experiencing authenticity in a place. We want guests to feel like they are out of their usual comfort zone and can discover something unexpected. At Rosemary, we believe that the experience of living in a traditional Moroccan home with a touch of design makes it special.
NS: To what degree is the hotel an extension of your work as an artist?
L&A: This project is definitely an extension of my work. This pushed me to look for new sources of inspiration. I challenged myself to create an entire world where everything, from the materials used to the furniture that decorates the rooms, is connected.
NS: What does Marrakesh mean to you, and how did you inspire Rosemary?
L&A: Living in Marrakesh, and having endless creative freedom, inspires me every day. People, light, colours, energy. Rosemary is part of our journey and we will see where that can lead. I love the idea of not knowing what’s next. But we are very proud to be part of the Marrakesh community with Rosemary. We hope we can share this with our guests and people around us.
(tags for translation)Rosemary Riad