Esteemed design practice Studio KO’s first Moroccan project – a private villa located just outside of Marrakech in the same vernacular as the desert landscape – enters its next chapter as a captivating guest house.
Swimming in the 25-metre-long infinity pool feels like swimming in the heart of the desert.
Villa D rests on a 17-acre site dotted with native palm trees, olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees and various succulents, all set against the backdrop of the arid Atlas mountains.
With offices in both Paris and Marrakech, Studio KO’s signature style is difficult to define but instantly recognisable. The studio have spearheaded a number of eminent global projects, one being the LA home of Richard Christiansen, Flamingo Estate, which graced the pages of est magazine Issue 41. Their inaugural Moroccan project, Villa D, was completed almost two decades ago as a private home. It was only recently in 2019, that young French hotelier Majd Chetouani managed to persuade the owner to open the extraordinary building to the public as a one-of-a-kind guest-house. The pair’s shared commitment to honouring Morocco’s history, landscape and building traditions made the rebrand, including a full renovation of the villa’s interiors, seamless and representative of Studio KO’s original vision.
From a distance, Villa D appears as a natural part of the landscape, emerging from the ground with an almost regal presence reminiscent of a mausoleum or cathedral. Its minimalist architecture, characterised by sharp lines and simple volumes, renders it unassuming and in complete accordance with its surroundings, as does its exterior of locally-made, warm-terracotta rammed-earth. The site itself, which encompasses 17 acres of desert terrain, is dotted with native palm trees, olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees and various succulents, all set against the backdrop of the arid Atlas mountains.
The interiors are imbued with earthy, textural elements, creating warm and comforting spaces.
“Designed with a deep respect for local culture and traditions, Villa D offers a unique opportunity to experience the architecture of Marrakech in its most refined form, with the soulful touch often overlooked elsewhere,” Studio KO co-founder Karl Fournier says. Envisioned as a place for large family or group gatherings, the villa comprises multiple spacious living areas, a spectacular dining room and a series of interlocking bedrooms and bathrooms. There is also a separate farmhouse located near the entrance of the building, where guests can stay amid charming gardens and quaint paddocks.
“At Villa D, not only do you get to immerse yourself in the architecture, which is sensitive and ever-present, but you also get the chance to explore nature in its entirety and appreciate Morocco in all its beauty,” Karl says. Dining beneath the olive trees, feeding the local donkeys and swimming in what feels like the heart of the desert are just some of the ways guests can surrender to their surroundings.