• In the studio with Laurence Leenaert in Marrakesh A new twist on traditional Moroccan craftsmanship. Part of Vol.3
2021 Feb 13

In the studio with Laurence Leenaert in Marrakesh

This is an excerpt. Find the whole article inside our third issue.

This Orient: Hi Laurence. We know that you currently live in Marrakech and that you studied in Belgium, but where do you actually come from?
Laurence Leenaert: I also come from Belgium, I grew up there. In the West-Flemish part, close to Ghent, a small town called Kortrijk. Not very known. Pretty different from Morocco.

But nevertheless you like it in Morocco?
I love it here, but I never imagined moving to Morocco. I first came here on a trip to the desert with my sister and I really liked it. So I came back for another six weeks with my sewing machine and I ended up buying fabric here and making bags. At the time, I told a friend that I met here ‘I am going to move to Morocco, to see what I can do here’. I just wanted to stay here and see how I could develop my brand. So I moved!

That is a huge step. But the brand already existed, and you just brought it to Morocco, right?
Yes, I studied fashion and then I started the brand focusing on bags. Then I moved here and I got a bit lost. So I started to do a bit of everything – not just bags anymore, but a bit of décor as well.

Today you create various items, like bags, shoes, clothing, and décor, encompassing accessories and lifestyle goods. How would you categorize them?
I would say lifestyle. I love to explore, I don´t want to stay with the same things all the time. Maybe in two or three years I will be doing something completely different. I want to give myself the freedom to explore and to see what can I do and what I like. I don´t put myself in a box.

I can imagine that this is really new to them and completely different from what they know. Maybe it is something they dreamt of, to be able to have something of their own. Or just to work ‘outside’, maybe.
Yes, exactly. This is why I love to talk about it. I think this is one of the most important things you can do here.
Otherwise life here is very slow, there is not a lot of stress. People take their time, something I really like. It is a different mentality. If people don´t want to work, they don´t go to work for a month, without explaining it to anybody … this is the crazy thing here. People do whatever they want. And sometimes, they just try to survive. They don´t work to have a lot of money, they just work to feed their family. It is cool, it is different.

What are your plans for the future?
Actually, we bought a riad (a traditional-style Moroccan house with a garden or courtyard). My boyfriend and I are running the company and we plan to move the studio from the industrial area to the medina, the old city centre. We now have a riad, with a patio inside. We bought it very spontaneously – We met some people and they were like, ‘We have a riad, maybe you want to have a look?’ And we really were not planning to buy anything, but we saw it and fell in love with it at once. So now it is ours, right now we are renovating, and we should be able to move in within six or eight months. There is going to be a bar and a restaurant, and I am going to do all the furniture and decorate the whole place, so, yes, it is like another beginning.

Find the whole article inside Vol.3 of This Orient “The Greater Middle East”. Find the issue here in our store.