Claudio Bravo’s Marrakech Home Meets Crosby, Stills & Nash’s ‘Marrakesh Express’ @bohosusan

I don’t know if the painter Claudio Bravo ever met singer-songwriter-musician Graham Nash, who wrote the late 1960s hit, “Marrakesh Express.” But it’s Nash’s song that chugs through my brain, like the train from Casablanca to Marrakech he sings of, every time I look at these photos of Bravo’s recently reimagined Marrakech riad.

More likely (though a far cry from fact), it was the reverse. The song, written in 1966 and released in 1969, could be what inspired Bravo to ditch the concrete jungle of New York City in 1972 for the splendors of the Mediterranean sun on Africa’s northern coast.

Bravo eventually owned three homes in Morocco, and this four-bedroom, single-story one in Marrakech became his winter abode. When the painter died in 2011, he bequeathed it and much of its contents to a friend. It’s new caretaker called on Sardar Design Studio of New York to refresh the place as a getaway for her family while maintaining its stature as a museum home. The results are beyond stunning, as you will see.

Bravo was a hyperrealist painter, so I think he would’ve appreciated Nash leaving the first-class section of the train to mingle with the common folk and their animals, as the song describes. In fact, this 18th-century home is reached via twisting streets and alleyways, tucked amid merchant shops and artisan stalls. So it seems only fitting (to me anyway) for Nash’s lyrics to narrate our tour. If you’re a boho child of the late 1960s, like me, you surely remember the tune and can, at the very least, hum along.

All on board that train! @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

A 19th-century-style bronze knocker and a plethora of nailheads greet you at the front door. Inside, a Syrian bridal chest and mirror inlaid with mother-of-pearl catch the sun from the courtyard around which the home is built.

Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

A Berber blanket hangs above the living room sofa, a brazier (foreground left) doubles as a side table, and a banquet dish and stand serve as coffee table.

Trying to make the train through clear Moroccan skies @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

At the other end of the living room, a Kurdish kilim covers a table. The daybed and star-shaped side table are Syrian, while the rugs are Moroccan.

Ducks and pigs and chickens call
Animal carpet wall to wall

American ladies five foot tall in blue @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

The dining room light fixture is an antique mosque lamp, an Uzbek suzani serves as tablecloth, and the chairs are camel-bone veneer.

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

The richly inlaid furniture in this cozy corner of Bravo’s former studio is also Syrian. The Andalusian-style plaster frieze is custom-made. Most of Bravo’s art went to family members when he died, but the lithographs displayed here came with the house.

Had to get away to see what we could find @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

A Spanish colonial desk, 19th-century Moroccan globes and box, a collection of antique Mamluk mosque lamps, Émile Gallé vases, and more Syrian pieces decorate the study.

Hope the days that lie ahead @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

In Bravo’s former bedroom, the headboard is draped with a wool blanket and the bed with a Berber wedding blanket. The chest is antique Moroccan, and the Tuareg carpet is made of woven leather and palm fronds.

Bring us back to where they’ve led @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

The Green Bedroom is my favorite room in the house. The bedspread is Gujarati mirrorwork embroidery, the chest is 19th-century Moroccan, and the desk and chair are bone inlay.

Listen not to what’s been said to you @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

In another bedroom, embroidered pillows from Fez and Rabat gather on an antique Spanish bed. The chair is Indian, while the table and chest of drawers are Syrian.

Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express?

Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express?

All on board that train! @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

And yes, the house comes with its own hammam—in Valencian marble, no less.

I’ve been saving all my money just to take you there @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

I could do for a soak here, especially after that dusty train ride.

I smell the garden in your hair-air-air-air-air-air @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

Or here. I’m not particular, but I am wondering about the view from these tubs.

Take the train from Casablanca going south @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

I hear it’s spectacular, so let’s take a closer look.

Blowing smoke rings from 

the corners of my my, my my, my mouth @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

Mandarin-orange trees underplanted with white roses grace the courtyard. Part of the “refresh” involved deepening the courtyard pool, which features a 19th-century Indian fountain, to allow for swimming. Street sounds drift over the courtyard walls, as do the Islamic calls to prayer.

Colored cottons hang in air

Charming cobras in the square

Striped djellebas we can wear at home @bohosusan
Simon Upton photo

This patio furniture is Indian marble, while the lantern is Moroccan. What else?


Don’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express?
Don’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express?
They’re taking me to Marrakesh.
All on board that train!
All on board that train!

If you want more, which, you KNOW you do… @bohosusan
Self-portrait of Claudio Bravo painting in his djellaba
  • Read Liza Foreman’s 2016 AD interview with Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami, who headed up the home’s restoration, and continue your photo tour of the home HERE.
  • Check out decorative art from the homes and studio of Claudio Bravo from a past auction HERE and HERE.
  • Click on the play button in the video below to watch and listen as a mature Crosby, Stills & Nash perform “Marrakesh Express.” Then, as it plays, go back and look through this home again. You can even sing along!
  • If touring this home gives you a hankering for Morocco, you’re in luck! Bravo’s main home—a palace in Tangiers—is for sale. Follow the link to the realtor’s listing. His third home at Taroudant is a museum you can tour when you visit and, in the meantime, virtually. You’ll find additional photographs of it on Trip Advisor.
  • Check out the (affiliate) links at the bottom of this page to learn more about the group Crosby, Stills & Nash; the painter, Claudio Bravo; and how to get the Moroccan look in your boho home.
  • Shop (and follow!) both my Etsy and ebay stores for vintage finds, a few of my boho DIYs, and next-to-new surplus home decor. New merchandise gets added daily, so check both places often.
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