Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech is wrapped in ‘woven’ terracotta

The city’s new palace of pattern

Today marks the opening of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, the second of two institutions inaugurated in the designer’s name after the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris opened earlier this month.

The Marrakech museum, situated on Rue Yves Saint Laurent and adjacent to the famous Jardin Majorelle, is the creation of French architectural duo Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier of Studio KO. They were commissioned in 2014 by the late Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s business partner and lifelong companion, who gave them a short but challenging brief.

‘It’s simple’, the architects recall Bergé saying. ‘I want something strong, Moroccan, contemporary, and, above all, absolutely uncompromising.’

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech presented a new challenge for Marty and Fournier. Studio KO had created large scale projects, such as the Chiltern Firehouse for André Balazs in London, but this is their first public institution.

Yves Saint Laurent, Jemaa el-Fnaa square (c) Reginald Gray
Yves Saint Laurent, Jemaa el-Fnaa square (c) Reginald Gray

The result is a 43,000 sq m museum and cultural centre dedicated to Saint Laurent’s archives and sketches, telling the story of the designer’s work and of his passion for Morocco.

A low slung structure in terracotta and terrazzo, the building’s exterior gives little hints as to Saint Laurent’s occupation save for the way the detailed brickwork recalls the weave of fabric.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Courtyard patio, mYSLm (c) Fondation Jardin Majorelle. Photography: Nicolas Mathéus

Inside, the museum is spare and spacious, centred around a circular atrium, its roof open to the elements.

The building holds a 400 sq m permanent exhibition space – designed by Christophe Martin – showcasing the fashion work of Yves Saint Laurent. Alongside this is a temporary exhibition space with the first show dedicated to painter Jacques Majorelle, whose Marrakech garden Saint Laurent and Bergé famously restored with the help of botanist Abderrazak Benchaâbane. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech also incorporates a research library with over 6,000 volumes, a 150-seat auditorium, a bookstore, and terrace café.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Photography: Fondation Jardin Majorelle © Nicolas Mathéus

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