Meet Helen Hampton, a valued ALM team member, stylist and all round design inspiration for 'A Little Morocco' (ALM). We thought it fitting to ask her to share her thoughts and musings on beautiful Morocco, since she spurred us on to create this home away from home..
"I have never been one for sleek minimalist décor or 'flat pack' purchases from Ikea. Instead, since spreading my wings as an independent woman and feathering my own nest I have been drawn to those things that have texture, aged beauty, deep rich colours and of course within the layers…..there is always a story.
I am prone to Bower Bird tendencies, a collector of eye catching things that are not necessarily expensive or designer but instead have a quaint charm and often origins of far-away places. My many trips to Egypt saw all sorts of modest treasures return in my suitcase, always loving the earthy smells and recalling the adventure of the purchase when I returned home and opened my bags.
Closer to home I am quite famous amongst family and friends for seeking out unusual treasures locally on the online “garage sale” websites, always staying that little bit longer at pick up, to hear the story and travels from the seller.
Morocco was always on my mental wish list of places to travel. If I was one of those organised people who dream up and construct vision boards, exotic Maroc would have been smack bang in the middle. So to finally travel there this year after years of waiting and postponing was a voyage of discovery for me in more ways than one. “Roam like Queens” with Colleen Cassar at the helm guided me expertly through the beautiful terrain on a trip I will never forget. To have all the stars (and planets) align and be able to accompany Moya on her buying trip for "Moya & Riad" (aka the wholesale trading arm of 'alittlemorocco.com.au') just months later was truly the stuff of dreams.
Moya’s commitment to sourcing authentic and vintage pieces for her business and researching and delivering the story of these pieces to her customers meant it was an exciting and meaningful adventure with a kindred spirit. Having her loving husband Rob along as the driving force behind filming the artisans at work and capturing their stories only added to the experience.
To jump off the merry-go-round of the 9-5 existence and to travel, ignites something magical in me. I breathe deeper, I look closer, I think and speak without holding back. I connect again with me….the me we often lose when we get weighed down with routine and responsibility. I don’t meticulously study guide books and history, my philosophy instead is to arrive and open my eyes, heart and mind to all that lies before me.
If ever there was a place to remind you to stop and breathe and absorb the beauty, Morocco is that place for me. Breathtaking scenery, stunning Riads, gloriously colourful textiles and tiles, stamped metal lanterns that throw spectacular patterns and rugs galore. Wander beyond the tourist Medina or into the mountains or desert and you see the true artisans at work and each item becomes even more precious for the investment of age old traditions and authenticity.
The idea of a circle of women talking, laughing and creating a wedding blanket for a bride to be and draping her in that blanket of love on her wedding day brings tears to my eyes. That beautiful adage “It takes a Village…..” has always resonated deeply with me. A recent treasured purchase from a bustling “flea market” in Marrakech was a rustic and well loved deep bellied cous cous bowl. Made of a deep rich coloured wood that you cannot help but caress and wonder about the meals and stories shared around it.
As a society we get caught up in that quest for perfection and somehow our homes, our décor, our bodies must be flawless, symmetrical, on trend and modern. I yearn to get back to basics and all that is real, to have quirky exotic “imperfect” heirlooms to pass down to my kids with quirky exotic (sometimes embellished) stories attached that educate and enthral. I will continue to be drawn to those imperfect handmade treasures with a story attached, treasures that invite curiosity and interaction, not locked away for special occasions only, but simply used and loved as they were always meant to be."