The ancient Moroccan arts and crafts scene flourishes in Kuwait at Casa Maroc, where this tiny boutique has captured our hearts and minds to take us to a faraway land and time, evocative of the warm, artful and gracious Moroccan hospitality. One can easily relive the charm of Marrakesh’s esoteric bazaars at Casa Maroc, and recreate the experience within the comforts of their own homes with rare, one-of-a-kind pieces.
As we arrived at this hidden gem at the Avenues to meet with the lovely owner and founder, Mrs. Fadwa Zeiton, to learn a thing or two about this forgotten art, we’re captured by every little detail inside this escape from the frenzied mall goers, crevices in the walls, the hanging wooden engravings, immaculately polished silver tables, contrasting colors; all of these details are the product of Fadwa’s passionate affinity for her home country’s traditional arts and crafts culture.
Originally an interior decorator, Fadwa’s business of selling Moroccan hand-crafted items, as well as furniture and antique items, started by total coincidence. She states, “I was visiting my family in Morocco and had some extra cash on hand, so I ventured into the old souks and picked up some beautiful pieces for my home. Upon my return to Kuwait, the arrival of my friends to visit me left me with absolutely nothing, they bought all of the pieces! The week after, I was back in Morocco to hunt for more unique pieces.” From there, Fadwa went on to enter exhibitions, and then opened her first store in Salmiya. Sixteen years later, Fadwa’s hobby of collecting handcrafted pieces, including furniture, antiques, decorative items, and jewelry and fashion accessories, resulted in her little nook at the bustling Avenues.
An avid collector of antiques as a hobby, Fadwa also advises that she doesn’t sell original antiques anymore, “Customers need to know that antiques are almost nonexistent nowadays, at least when pertaining to Moroccan designs.” Fadwa currently sells artisanal items that are originally handcrafted from start to finish, and antique replicas. She adds, “These replicas are made to look like antiques, and in the rare occasions antiques are found, these are extremely hard to come by and are very expensive.”
Bridging the gap between local customers and Moroccan artisans, Fadwa strives to continuously widen her collection. She explains, “With time, I came about local Moroccan designers, who specialize in hand made crafts, and with my luck, I managed to secure collections that are exclusive to my store.” Such designers include modern arabesque style pottery by Miriam Murabet, or the fantastically whimsical creations by French Orientalist Maryline Bottero, we immediately notice that these Aladdin-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland designs are eagerly sought out by Fadwa. She simply makes it look effortless, yet she begs to differ, “It took me a while to learn how to find these creative designers. With time, I’ve learned to attend showcases like Maison D’objet to find these modern, oriental-inspired styles. A designer will spend a lengthy amount of time on any given piece of pottery, as it goes through several stages. So many details go into these handmade pieces, such as tea sets, pots, trays, centerpieces, and frames. Why I personally love them? Styling these pieces is easy on the eye, as it would fit perfectly in either a modern or classical setting.” Signature pieces also include the fascinating works of artists Denis Morel, known for his orientalist three-dimensional paintings, and Hind Benjilany, whose work is focused on beautiful pottery pieces and paintings.
Although focused on handmade crafts and pieces from Morocco, Fadwa also likes to source handmade abayat or traditional dresses from Lebanon. However, her affinity for her country is apparent in the nostalgic tone dominating her voice whenever she speaks of her Morocco, “I like to go back to Morocco, even though I know my current home is Kuwait, these regular visits somehow make me feel more connected to my country. In a way, I am giving back to a culture that has been forgotten, to support this art form in any way I can. In a way, the Moroccan handcrafts are one of a kind, and also a dying business. From handcrafted leather, wood, fabric, silver, pottery, glass, jewelry, the Moroccan touch is something I’ve never seen. You see a poor man working on a piece for hours on end, and the outcome of his work appear as if it is of international caliber.”
Fadwa hopes that people’s appreciation for crafts will grow; she wishes that people understood the true art of handmade crafts. On a personal note, she feels that her journey with Casa Maroc is one filled with passion, and that the fiscal aspect of the business is simply a plus. “I know for sure that I will keep going back to Morocco, and I get that amazing high every time I walk down the street in any of its plentiful bazaars.”
Visit Casa Maroc at Phase I of the Avenues, near the IKEA flagship store. For more information, please call 2259 7117 or visit www.casamaroc.com.