Travel: Patterns and Perfection of Dubai

When people think of Dubai, mostly we think of an ambitious nouveau riche city. Its tallest building in the world punching a willful want for wealth and power into the sky. It wants you to know that it will not be ignored.

Burj Khalifa

We talk about the desert mall so big it has ski slopes in it.

The palm frond island so big it’s seen from space.

The Burj Khalifa water fountain display so big it was built by the winner of all the chips. It makes the Vegas Bellagio fountain look like it was built with the pennies found on the floor.

We celebrated my 50th birthday at a Thai restaurant on the edge of the fountain. The water danced and sang every half hour or so. Here’s video but squeezing this enormous display in this tiny box on this page does no justice to it. Like when you are there in person, your eyes cannot even see it all. You have to tilt your head up and look from side to side:

Also crank the speakers up, way up, and maybe you’ll get the feeling of thunder and stomach-rumbling music.

If you ever go to Dubai and want to see this, in the evening go to the promenade that runs along the water. You can stand there with a front row view of a free show.

Yeah it’s all very impressive. But I’m not looking for the things that were built during the last 50 years. I like the older, quieter areas. These older areas line the Dubai Creek, where people lived for centuries and traded in fish, pearls and dates with Silk Road travelers. It’s Old Town and Bastakiya Quarter with stone lanes, souks, boutique hotels and art galleries. Instead of shiny glass, the buildings are the color of desert sands.

Money still walks these lanes though. You’ll see in the gold souk, and the $14USD gelato.

Sandy Patterns of Dubai

Dubai Old Town Old Walls

Patterns of Dubai

Every other photo, my eyes are closed. The sun is so bright and bouncing off everything. You know that test at the eye doctor where they shine the light in your eyes and you want to tear your eyes out, you can’t take it anymore? It’s like that. You gotta bring your shades.

Deb in Dubai

Having come to Dubai from India, we kept having “where are all the people?” moments. But it was a nice break.

Dubai

Dubai Patterns

I liked the sandy understatement. Some restraint in style. Things all lined up. Perfectly spaced apart. Pairs and symmetry.

Dubai Hotel

Dubai Lights

Though after awhile, it did start to feel theme park-ish. Everything was so perfect, so orderly, so clean! Made for tourists perfect.

Dubai Old Town Souk

Dubai Souk

After living many weeks with the chaos and mess you can easily find in India, this was the transition we needed as we headed back to our suburban American lives. You know, where we try to keep everything perfect, orderly and clean!

Dubai Wind Tunnel

How to Layer a Crazy Mix of Stencils on a Wall

In February 2018, I went on a three-week painting binge … in India!

Yes. I painted stencils all over three walls, canvasses, carved wood, backplates for sconces. It was the best three weeks ever. Despite having a bad cold, and terrible hacking-coughing 10 feet up on a ladder. But hey, I stenciled to the tippy-top of those 10 foot walls!

Crazy Mix of Stencils on a Wall

India Apartment Guest Room

This was one wall I painted. Imagine this as the background of … SOME DAY … a four-poster daybed of carved wood with fantastical India motifs. Painted light gray. Draped with sheer sarees cascading down the posts. And slathered with kantha quilts and pillows in bright pinks, oranges and blues with just a touch of that mustard color.

Some day this will be a fully-complete guest room. For now, it’s my husband’s office when he’s in Chennai, India. And this wall probably isn’t what he was expecting! But he still has a more professional plain white wall for his GoToMeeting and Skype calls from the desk in the corner.

How to Layer Stencils On a Wall

So … here’s a step by step of how to “build” a stenciled wall like this. I will warn, there’s some measuring to do. A yardstick or measuring tape does the math for you.

First, decide which stencils you want to put where. Which stencils do you want on the bottom, in the middle, on the top? Here was my mock-up. I had an idea in mind, and wanted to see if I still liked it on the wall:

Stencil Layout and Measurements of Backgrounds

Which stencils do you choose? Here was my rule of thumb – I tried to go for contrast in different ways:

  • The stencil at the bottom is “denser” and will be filled with a lot more paint than the “lighter” trellis pattern on the top. So I balanced a denser/heavier pattern with a lighter pattern.
  • The paisley and trellis patterns have curvy lines, so I chose a blockier geographic type stencil for the border in the middle.

So those are some ways you can get contrast. You can also pair big stencil patterns with small patterns. Mix florals with straight-edge geometrics.

Now, decide if you want different color backgrounds behind your stencils. You don’t have to do backgrounds. Different backgrounds add extra dimension, but they also add extra time and difficulty. If you want, you could just paint the stencils, with the wall the same color behind all stencils. But if you want different background colors, measuring is important.

As you see above, I started taping the wall to mark where background colors would be painted. I measured the bottom section first, then I measured for the border in the middle. I drew pencil lines on the wall. You can see these lines just barely in the photo above near the middle border area. You will have to keep moving the blue lines from one side of the pencil lines to the other, and tape over areas you just painted, so be careful. Paint should have enough time to dry so you don’t pull it off with the tape.

How to Choose Colors

Look at other things in the room. This is in India, and eventually this guest bedroom will have a bed covered with bright colors, and walls with bright art:

Guest Bedroom Colors

Guest Bedroom Colors

I decided to play up the pink, and bring the grays and silvers to the top of the wall to give the eye a rest from the color crazy that will eventually fill much of the room. And for contrast to the feminine pinks and curves, I chose the mustardy-turmeric-curry color for the border.

Here’s a view of the rug in the room which also has these colors:

India Guest Bedroom Rug

Here’s the wall taped off and ready for painting the background colors:

Taped for Background Color Painting

Painting Background Colors

I can’t just run to the store for paint in India like I can at home by Chicago. Well, I CAN – there is an Asian Paints within walking distance of our apartment. Asian Paints is like the Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams of India. But, I already had many sample sizes of Asian Paints. Some of them were older. Pro painters would probably groan at what I did. I wanted a light warm pink background on the bottom but I didn’t have pink. So I chose the creamier/ivory Asian Paints latex colors and dumped them all in a container. Then I added drops of Emperor’s Silk Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan until the pink was where I wanted it:

Mixing a Pink Paint

Mixing a Pink Paint

Starting with warm creamy ivories and adding red made a warm dusty pink. I was channeling the Pink City of Jaipur.

I had limited supplies, so I mixed this in a Frog Tape container!

Frog Tape

Asian Paints paint sticks to everything, plus I don’t know where the water drains from our India apartment or the effects of paint going down our drains. So I didn’t clean the container, I just threw it out. There’s a few guys who live near the community garbage bins who make money from pulling garbage and recycling it. They watch for us. They LOVE our garbage!

I wanted an uneven, plaster-y look on the wall. So I spread light amounts of paint on a trowel – honestly, a cheap and BROKEN plastic trowel, the only thing I had available in India – and troweled the latex paint on the wall.

Troweling Latex Paint

The broken trowel got annoying. I had to be careful to not make sharp scratches with it. But, it worked okay. I eventually had to break off the broken part.

Broken Plastic Trowel

I moved the trowel every which way like drunken hashmarks, for an uneven application. It went very fast. I let some splotches of the original white paint show through. Because the trowel applied a light layer, the paint dried fast.

Soon, I was choosing colors for the next step, stenciling:

Which Metallic to Paint

Hmmm, which to choose?

Though it’s hard to tell from the pictures because it looks pink, I chose the orange in the middle. I forget which paint it was now. It’s a metallic that has orange & pink. The stencil is the Rani Paisley Stencil from Royal Design Studio in furniture stencil size. You can also get it bigger in wall stencil size.

Painting Paisley Stencil on Wall

You can see I finished one entire section – background + stencil – before moving up to the next section.

Painting a Border

Unfortunately I did not photograph every step of the border section. It got dark out. This room is lit with two lousy lightbulbs. I could barely see with my eyes wide open.

There was some fancy moving of the tape several times. Remember you have to move the tape or you will have an unpainted area behind the tape! I had to remove some tape and put it over the pink area, then paint the border background. The background is the mustardy-curry color. Then I used a metallic copper color to paint stencils over the curry color. Here’s a close-up:

Stencil Border Detail

Honestly I think I was doing all this at 2 a.m. Because jetlag. And, you can see I did crazy stuff with a skinny border line for extra credit or something, even though there’s no teacher to impress, it’s just myself.

I don’t even know how to explain how to measure to get the curry color background behind the big geometric shapes, and the pink background behind those skinny lines. That really needed to be a video to show you. Just … measure twice, then measure again, and measure again. Test a small area first before painting the whole thing. Test in an area that’s usually behind a door, curtain or cabinet, somewhere not seen so well. You can always paint over it and start over if you measured wrong.

Or sometimes a better idea is to not drive yourself crazy with all this measuring in the first place. Why didn’t I think of that.

At some point it was light out again. And it must have been hot, because the ceiling fan is running.

Now it’s time to paint the top. And climb up the ladder and try not to get hit by the ceiling fan!

Stenciling in India

You can see here, the pink on the bottom relates to the pink in the floor tile, and the dark copper in the border relates to the copper in the ceiling fan. Also on the other end of the room, there are dark copper wall sconces and some curry/tamarind color on the wall. So these colors get repeated around the room.

Mixing More Colors

Now, I wanted a silvery gray background on the top. I stared at the wall for awhile and wondered if I should go bold, really BOLD, and paint bright color on the top too. But honestly, all this color is pushing it for me personally. And it’s feeling more feminine than what I’m comfortable with. So I decided to tame things down just a little bit by painting tones of silvery gray on the top.

I pulled white latex paints with cool undertones from Asian Paints from my stash of sample paints. Then, mixed Aged Nickel Stencil Creme from Royal Design Studio into the Asian Paint whites. The Aged Nickel has shimmer and sheen so it added a metallic glimmer to the latex paint.

Mixing Silvery Gray Paint

I was also hoping I wasn’t compromising the Asian Paints with this mixing, but as I write this, the paint has been on the wall for a year, my husband has visited the apartment recently, and the walls are fine. The colors I added are a very small % of the paint.

Mixing Silvery Gray Paint

Like I did with the pink background, I troweled the silvery gray paint on with the broken plastic trowel. It’s a light layer:

Troweling on Silvery Gray Paint

Then, I stenciled the trellis stencil with straight up Aged Nickel Stencil Creme for a tone on tone look. The stencil is the Raj Indian Trellis Stencil from Royal Design Studio.

Raj Trellis Stencil

Things are getting shadowy again, so another day has gone by.

On the Third Day, She Styles!

Finally finished! We don’t have furniture for this room yet, so I pulled in sofa cushions from the living room and styled them up like a Moroccan floor seating situation. Just pretend there’s chai tea or mint tea.

Styled Up

Even a tassel I found in Marrakech has the colors of this room:

Indian-Moroccan Style

Guest Room in India Apartment

As the sun sets again, the colors deepen and get mysterious. Time to relax and enjoy!

Colors of the Guest Room

See another stenciled wall in this same apartment in India – it’s a “headboard” behind the master bedroom bed. It’s a very different look! Visit the post that shows how I painted this with stencils and metallic paints:

Painted Headboard Wall Finished

Oyamel Paint Finish – A Story of Finding Meaningful Inspiration for Your Creativity

Before and After Oyamel Paint Finish

I thought this would be a step-by-step tutorial. But then I counted all the cans and bottles I used – 20!!!. And all the paint layering steps, the salt, powerwash, baby wipes, polyacrylic base coat seal, gilding wax accents, wax top coat … whew!! I had a lot of fun playing with it all. But you know what, I don’t think anybody would follow a 20-page tutorial with 25 supplies!

There’s a lot of subtlety here, details that don’t show up on camera. That’s the depth you get when you use lots of layers and techniques. You are rewarded when you look very close.

Shimmery

It’s nice, but I don’t know if you’d do a tutorial to get subtle details that you can’t even see in photos.

Instead, remember when the Talking Heads asked, “How did I get here?”  Where did a paint finish called “oyamel” come from? How did it get here?

FINDING CREATIVE INSPIRATION

The Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime is about being on autopilot and half awake most days, getting through everything we have to do. The days go by. Day by day by day. What happens when we stop and take a second to look around? To notice things? We might get answers. We might get inspiration!

Creatives now often go to Pinterest for inspiration. My Pinterest is ALL ABOUT inspiration. It’s like I’ve hoarded every picture I like for years. I have boards about inspiring places to travel to. Doors. Colors. Patterns. Walls. The hard thing on Pinterest is choosing which photo.

But I also like to look around my own home for inspiration. When inspiration comes from something in your life, it has extra meaning.

Look around you right now.

Is there something in the room that makes you happy? Is there something that has a story? Something that makes you imagine colors? If you walk around your home, what’s the first thing you see that makes you want to reach out and touch it?

Is there something sentimental given to you by family? A friend?

What about a travel memory? Where do you go on vacation? When you’re there, what are the colors, textures, and feelings you notice?

What are your hobbies and interests? What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? What’s your favorite spice? Imagine where the spice comes from. What’s it like there?

Do you like flowers? Plants? If so, what’s your favorite flower?

Can you find inspiration in what’s around you right now? These are things close to you, things you live with. Use them to weave a personal story into what you create.

Oyamel Paint Finish

MY INSPIRATION FOR “OYAMEL”

What is oyamel? It’s a special tree. It’s a fir tree that grows in the mountains of Mexico, and it’s where monarch butterflies spend their winters. Monarch butterflies will leave areas of the U.S. and Canada where it freezes in the winter, and they’ll fly thousands of miles to Mexico to overwinter where it’s warmer. These monarchs were born up north — they’ve never been to Mexico before. But somehow, they know how to get there! They spend winter flying and huddling together in mass bunches in oyamel fir forests.

So my inspiration for the “oyamel paint finish” is the olive green, orange, and golden yellow colors of the monarchs in these trees. With some brown bark color. And the blue sky they fly through to get there.

Oyamel Inspiration Photos

Photo Sources: Vermont Woods StudiosNational Geographic, FlavioLandin on TripAdvisor

I name everything after places, being the “nomadic” decorator and all. So that’s why I name this oyamel. I hope to see these oyamel forests someday soon – they’re within a days’ drive from Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.

So, how did I get to that idea? Read on to see how inspiration can come from anything in your life …

THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY JOURNEY

Monarchs must overcome many struggles to survive. As caterpillars, they can only eat milkweed. But milkweed is being killed on a mass level by Roundup and the spread of farmland using Roundup and insecticides. Plus, predators and diseases kill 90-99% of monarch eggs and caterpillars before they can become butterflies! Only 1-10% make it! Thankfully once they become butterflies, they can drink nectar from many types of flowers. But they must survive an epic flight for such a little creature. Once they finally get to Mexico after flying thousands of miles, the butterflies are finding smaller fir forests – the trees are being cut down though there are a few reserves somewhat protected by the Mexican government. These pretty little guys battle a lot. Their numbers are plummeting toward endangerment.

Here’s a video that explains that the monarchs might have the most complex migration of any animal or insect in the world, and what’s happening to the Mexican forests they migrate to:

Why did I learn all this stuff? Well, I planted milkweed in my garden a few years ago. One day I saw a big fat caterpillar munching away. Yay! The next day, he was gone. He wasn’t big enough to become a chrysalis (cocoon) yet. That’s when I learned, a bird probably saw him as a big fat juicy dinner. 

So early this year, I looked for tiny baby caterpillars so small you can barely see them, and I found eggs. I rescued so many that I raised 160 monarch butterflies this summer in our house. Seeing them grow and become butterflies and take their first flight was so amazing! I’m smitten. Here’s one getting ready to take off from our bathroom window. When I found this one, it was just a little white dot of an egg, not much bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

Monarch Butterfly

So, I created this oyamel finish to honor these little guys and their long journeys to survive. This finish also captures the lively colors of Mexico, which I’ve been seeing a lot as I’ve been researching a trip to San Miguel de Allende, an artsy town in central Mexico.

OYAMEL FINISH DETAILS

While I’m not doing a 20-page step-by-step tutorial with lessons learned and details, below is a basic run-down of major things I did to get the look. I used mostly chalk and clay paints (Annie Sloan, DIY Paint, Frenchic) because you can blend and manipulate them easily. I also used acrylic matte “chalky finish” paints for the base coats where I did not blend.

Oyamel Shelf Steps


Put a layer of light beige on the bottom half, where I knew I’d put lighter colors. The wood is dark and the light paint helps the lighter colors be truer.


Added base colors of paprika orange on the top; curry yellow on the bottom. I LOVE this curry yellow! It’s the color of tamarind staining your fingers after you eat a South Indian masala dosa!


Sealed base coats with flat polyacrylic top coat. So the base coats would stay in place while I “powerwashed” and manipulated top layers of paint.


Added dark blue on top half over the paprika orange base coat, and added olive green on the bottom half over the curry yellow base coat.


Distressed the blue and olive with baby wipes to reveal paprika orange, curry yellow and beige layers, and bare wood in a few spots.


Did asymmetrical distressing so orange and yellow areas look like random wear like maybe from a flood or something pouring onto the painted surface. Tried to hit areas where natural wear n’ tear would happen.


Powerwashed some blue off with water for texture.


Threw salt in areas while blue paint was wet. Got cool dark speckles but not super impressed. Like I said, lots of subtle details.


Added metallic shimmers with pear green color metallic, teal blue metallic, orange metallic.


Toned down everything with a light sandy beige layer of paint; wiped off most of this paint. Left enough for a dusty look.


Applied rich gold metallic gilding wax to the four bars.


Sealed with clear wax.


Noticed the clear wax diminished some metallic shimmers. Reapplied them all.


So that’s the Cliff’s Notes version. A lot of the magic happens when you reveal the layers underneath, when colors get “caught” on texture, when shimmery iridescence shows up when light hits it just right. I like the contrast of elegant iridescence mixed with a rustic cowboy outpost town kind of feel.

If you look closely at a monarch butterfly’s wings, they are iridescent! They have a color that shimmies and changes in the light. So that’s why this oyamel paint finish has metallic accents. And plus, it’s pretty!

Shimmery

The shelf now lives in my studio and holds … well, not much. Because I want to see the shelf! 

Painted Shelf in Studio

The colors all together remind me of flashes of the iridescent golden orange butterflies clinging to the rough bark of a tree, surrounded by green leaves and blue sky. Soaking up the winter sunshine in Mexico. Even when it’s winter here in Chicago, I can look at this and think of warmer days, and maybe even a flight for myself to San Miguel and a drive to see the butterfly forest.

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming up ideas to paint something in this oyamel finish for sale, and a percentage of profits could go toward a monarch habitat conservation organization. What do you think?

Shelf in My Studio

Moroccan Style: Talitha Getty & Bill Willis

When people talk of the early days of Moroccan style and the European and American jetsetters of the 1960s and 70s, the talk is often about Talitha Getty. Her multi-cultural “couture of the souks” style is captured in this iconic Vogue magazine photo, nowadays re-created by travelers on riad rooftops:

Iconic Talitha Getty Photo

Moroccan Style: Talitha Getty and Fashion

Talitha and her husband, John Paul Getty, Jr., who was the son of the richest man in the world at the time, enjoyed a high-flying lifestyle that revolved around world leaders in music and fashion. Yves St. Laurent was a good friend and fellow resident of Marrakech. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones spent a Christmas together in their palace. And parties, many parties. Talitha Getty knew how to throw a party:

“A welcoming, fantastical, joyous life, at once sensible and sybaritic . . . Mrs. Getty prowls the marketplace, bringing back delights for the house and table. Best she brings back entertainers—dancers, acrobats, storytellers, geomancers and magicians. … While Salome is playing in the background, snake charmers charm and tea boys dance, balancing on their feet trays freighted with mint tea and burning candles.” – Diana Vreeland, Vogue

Like Lady Diana and Princess Grace of Monaco, Talitha’s mystique may be amplified because she died so young, at age 30. She is frozen in time with flawless skin and lush hair. Diana Vreeland said that Talitha was THE style icon during her Moroccan caftan and Persian jewelry years. Talitha to this day is still celebrated as a style muse by fashion designers.

Talitha Getty and Iron Grillwork Palais de la Zahir

Not a ton of photos of Talitha exist, but I captured all photos I could find on a Pinterest board of Talitha Getty style.

Moroccan Style: Architectural Arts in Marrakech

There was someone else who revolved in the Getty’s beautifully-designed orbit in Marrakech.

Someone who had a bigger, more enduring influence on Moroccan style. I bet you haven’t heard of him. He deserved greater public recognition because hallmarks of Marrakech style today are traced to him. He revived dying arts and filled opulent homes with beautiful tiles and tadelakt walls, ceilings, fireplaces, floors and furniture. The funny thing is, he wasn’t Moroccan. He was from Memphis.

His name was Bill Willis.

(Please forgive me if I slip up and call him Bruce Willis and don’t catch it. It wouldn’t be the first time!)

Have you admired the tadelakt walls in Marrakech homes? That is because of Bill Willis. Before Bill, tadelakt was used in the hammams because it’s waterproof. It was not used throughout houses. But this polished plaster surface is now the quintessential Marrakech wall.

Have you seen crazy, colorful combinations of patterned tiles on fireplaces in Marrakech? That is because of Bill Willis. He restored and revived zellij mosaic tilework and brought it into the 20th century with a “modern ideas with Moroccan materials” mentality.

Now, because Bill Willis outlived Talitha by many decades (she died in 1971, he in 2009), he had far more time to do his work. Bill’s design legacy in Marrakech began with Talitha Getty, so she started the ball rolling. Bill accompanied the Gettys on their honeymoon in Marrakech, where they bought a ramshackle rubble of a palace for $10,000 in 1966. It was once a royal place, but was now a ruin. Here’s Bill standing outside of it:

Bill Willis

This was in the 1960s, long before Marrakech was the tourist attraction that it is today. I imagine it was beyond rough for travelers used to luxury. But from this ruin, within only a few years, Bill Willis and the Gettys created breathtaking beauty. They created a place with a name prepared for debauchery:  Palais du Zahir (also known as Palais de la Zahia) — the Pleasure Palace.

Getty Palace in Marrakech

“Bill created the Marrakech look, and it started with that house,” says the decorator Jacques Grange

Not many photos of Palais du Zahir from the Getty days exist publicly. I have a rare book of Bill Willis’ work — you can only get it at the Majorelle Gardens bookstore in Marrakech, unless you’re willing to pay $300+ for the rare times it pops up on eBay or Amazon — and Palais du Zahir is not in the book. But recently, I found a video about Bill that shows the Getty palace. It’s a long video that explains Bill’s influence on Marrakech style as you know it today. The palace is shown at about the 6 minute mark:

Video credit from Jeremy Riggall on Vimeo.

I hit replay and screen-captured those Palais du Zahir rooms like a crazy obsessed woman!

Here’s a few more pictures of the palace from the 1970 January Vogue issue, photographed by Patrick Lichfield:

Talitha Getty in Palais du Zahir

Talitha and Bill Getty Marrakech

Palais de la Zahia Dining Area

If you ever want the original Vogue issue, I found mine on eBay and see them there occasionally. I could probably be persuaded to part with mine!

Today, the palace is owned by writer Bernard-Henri Lévy and his actress wife Arielle Dombasle. Here’s the most famous rooftop in Marrakech as it is today, shown in WSJ Magazine:

Palais du Zahir Rooftop

I notice, it has a different brick floor now. Unless this is a different area of the roof than what we see in the 1970 Vogue magazine.

Palais de la Zahia Window

Don’t those look like the same iron grilles that Talitha is peeking through in the photo above?

Palais de la Zahia nook

No longer a place of drug-fueled hedonistic parties (none other than Keith Richards said that Talitha Getty had access to the best opium), now the palace is a discreet address where feuding world leaders gather in privacy and try to broker peace, and for an intellectual writer to think and write in solitude. Some palace walls have stood since the 1500s or the 1700s, depending on who you ask. Oh, what the walls must have seen over the centuries!

The current owners worked with Bill Willis before his death to honor his contributions to the palace’s style. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“They still use the furniture Willis designed for the Gettys, including a four-poster bed painted like the Good Ship Lollipop in a fantasia of ice cream colors and Berber-inspired motifs.”

I share everything I found about the Getty palace on a Palais du Zahir Pinterest board.

Marrakech Design: Enduring Influence of Bill Willis

Bill Willis’ contribution to Marrakech and Moroccan style is now unnoticed and unappreciated. Some of that appears to be his own fault. Though he had a reputation as an exacting and demanding designer, he slept until late afternoon and his neighbors thought he was a vampire. And he was intoxicated during most waking hours. Despite that, his genius still prevailed in glorious Marrakech architecture. Efforts might be underway to raise his profile, possibly through the riad that was once his home in Marrakech.

How often does a designer influence the style of a whole city? And in a way that stimulates a whole travel and tourism industry, boosting an entire economy? At every corner you turn in Marrakech, there are photo ops. Old walls, old doors, what’s below your feet and above your head, somehow it’s all very special. Marrakech inspires our imaginations. Captures us and makes us want to return. Would Bill Willis have ever imagined that happening? Beyond many nondescript doors and plain medina walls there is glittering opulence, pierced metal lanterns casting dancing shadows, woven textiles exploding with color against fantastical patterned walls. Run your hands along the cool smooth tadelakt walls. Bill Willis made that possible.