Tucked away behind Palais Moulay Idriss, en route back to the Jemaa el-Fna square towards the end of our ‘Iron and Clay’ Medina walk, we stumbled across Art Dahnaoui, a large warehouse housing a range of hand-made furniture and traditional ornaments. Some of the smaller items that Art Dahnaoui has to offer were not dissimilar to the products you can find in the Souks. However it is the larger items – the wardrobes, chairs and tables – that are a bit more difficult to find in Marrakech. However, what is particularly unique about Art Dahnaoui is that the shop is self-sufficient: everything sold is made on site, in the labyrinth of workshops found behind the main warehouse by skilled craftsmen and traditionally trained artisans.
As we entered the warehouse we were met by one of the workers who introduced himself as Didier; although we assume this name was a joke due to his Drogba Chelsea football shirt. We wandered through the warehouse as our guide picked his favourite items, describing with a certain pride how each piece was made. He explained that Art Dahnaoui specialised in metalwork: guilt iron pieces, metal lamps and furniture embossed with traditional fine metalwork designs, a style which is very popular throughout Marrakech’s luxury restaurants and Riads.
‘Didier’ explained that the metal quality was graded in a scale from 0-10, 10 representing the cheaper, lowest quality metal. This grading score did not simply dictate a price of the metal and the cost of the finished products, but it also influenced what the metal was actually used for. For example, the ornate hanging lamps, famous for casting distinctive shadows, use a grade 4 or 5 metal as the process of adornment requires a thicker, tougher metal whereas the metal used to decorate the wardrobes and tables is usually a grade 0or 1, the finest quality possible.
Art Dahnaoui has a large range of clients, although they do sell to some tourists, they also selling to boutiques and Riad owners. Perhaps you will need more than the basic hand luggage allowance to take home such an item, but if you are looking to refurnish your home or just add a touch of the Moroccan magic to your humble abode then Art Dahnaoui is the place for you.