I had only brought a few items back from Morocco after my recent trip.
Among them, one stood out in particular.
To quote my parents, and pretty much everyone else: “Why the hell do you need blue paint”?
I guess I have some explaining to do.
When I was in Marrakech, I visited the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle garden).
It’s a pretty popular attraction, drawing over 700,000 people annually, which stands out for one reason above many: its stunning use of a very particular shade of blue.
The two and a half acre botanical garden was the property of Jacques Majorelle (1886–1962), a French painter who commissioned its design along with his very own villa.
The botanical garden was said to be his life’s finest work, which he decorated with plants from his abundant travels across the world.
Majorelle fell in love with the city and specifically asked for the villa and parts of the garden to be painted with a specific colour, inspired by the blue tiles that were prevalent in the south of Morocco.
The deep-blue shade was developed using a pigment from the precious stone ‘Lapis lazuli’, a metamorphic rock sourced from mines in northeast Afghanistan. Prized for its intense colour, it was incredibly sought after, used today to create the most expensive shade of blue pigments: ‘ultramarine’ blue.
Before his death, Majorelle had the unique shade patented, now referred to as ‘Majorelle blue’.
Before the gardens had fallen into disrepair, the designers Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé sought to restore and maintain the site in the 1980s. In October 2017, the ‘Musee Yves Saint-Laurent’ opened to the public as a tribute to the designer’s legacy and his links with Marrakech.
As I visited the gift shop that sits adjacent to the central villa, I couldn’t help but notice how every item was adorned with the unique colour.
Amongst the clothes, jewellery and bags for sale, I saw a stand that held small tins of paint, labelled with the signature ‘Majorelle blue’. I had no immediate use in mind for the paint, but something compelled me to buy it.
Not only does it hold sentiment from my trip to the city, but this little tin of blue paint meant much more to me than anything else I could have bought from that shop.
The coloured paint had an entire history behind it, a story of one designer’s love for a country and a remnant of his legacy.
From Majorelle’s travels and his fascination with the Moroccan shades of blue to the dedicated maintenance of the grounds by legendary designer Yves Saint-Laurent, I couldn’t pass up the chance to possess a small part of it.
I didn’t just buy a tin of paint, I bought its story.