SOPHIA NAS, MARRAKESH
[When I was designing the slippers and learning about the history of the babouche, I wanted to find out what was going on in modern-day Morocco. It turns out, a lot. It's become an incredibly creative place with artists, designers, musicians and chefs taking the best of Moroccan traditions and spinning them into things entirely new. I reached out to some of the women that are part of the creative community to learn more. Here are their interviews.]
Sophia Nas grew up in the coastal town of Safi, Morocco. The 25-year-old graphic designer studied at L'École Supérieure des Arts Visuels (ESAV) in Marrakesh, the city she now calls home. As an in-house graphic designer for a Marrakesh-based firm, she works on projects from around the globe, ranging from luxury brands to hospitality businesses, giving her a uniquely international perspective.
Tell us about the neighborhood you live in. What do you love most about it?
I live in an apartment in Marrakesh, in a rather quiet residence. What I love about my neighborhood is that it is very easy to access from the city center or the medina (old town), because there are lots of public means of transport. I also like the fact that everything is next door: supermarkets, doctors, shops that sell everything.
Are any foods trending there lately, or are food traditions very consistent?
For the lunch break, many people head to "snacks," which are small fast-food restaurants that offer dishes at very affordable prices. For those who have time to eat at home, it is often tagine, a dish with vegetables and meat. On Friday, it's couscous, and that's a tradition. But only if you eat with your family, because this dish takes time to prepare and when you're a working woman, it's not that simple.
Do people in your community embrace individual style or is there a norm?
In everyday life, people dress in a very varied way, between modern and traditional clothing. The elderly wear traditional clothing and for occasions such as weddings, baptisms, family gathering or religious holidays, it is often a caftan for women and djellaba suit for men. The majority of people I've known prefer simplicity, and do not necessarily try to assert their style.
Personally, I certainly don’t like to follow the trends, I prefer to have my own style. My role models are actresses of the 50s, with their very intense sense of glamour and their beautiful makeup. My friends say I’m a chameleon. Why limit yourself and follow the "norm" when you have the choice to be original and embrace individuality?
What do you find interesting about working with clients from different cultures around the world?
For me, it's a way to travel while staying in my office. It is a great chance because it allows me to discover new cultures and ways of seeing things, and above all, to always carry out my creativity. It allows me to explore new ideas, to propose new things that could have been perceived as uninteresting or too offbeat with local customers.
Are there any approaches to, or characteristics of, graphic design that you think are uniquely Moroccan?
The Moroccan, Berber and Arabic culture are rich in symbols, colors and patterns. On the other hand, graphic design in Morocco is still developing, while advertising and art already have their place. Today, as I and other young people who have taken similar courses to mine are doing our best to really develop this sector in the years to come.
How does your view of the world differ from that of your parents?
I’d say I’m more adventurous. I am lucky because my parents have always encouraged me to learn and travel from a very young age. They have always believed in me and urged me to pursue my dreams.
What is your favorite vacation spot in Morocco?
Without hesitation, the north, on the Mediterranean side; in summer it is very beautiful and not too hot, the beaches are beautiful with transparent water. Otherwise, in winter, I like to go to Ifrane, a city in the northeast of Morocco. Guaranteed total change of scenery. It's a city where it snows, and it's rare here!
What cities in the U.S. have you visited or would you like to visit?
I have not been to the US yet but it is definitely in my list of places to visit, I dream of going to L.A and San Francisco, but also New York. I love traveling, that's what makes me feel alive! So far I have been to several European countries, as well as Egypt.
What media do you have access to in Morocco that might have shaped your impressions of the country and culture?
Moroccan young people are connected to everything (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube). Most older people are also familiar with some social media, but they generally prefer TV. I use a lot Instagram and Youtube. I subscribe to people from all over the world and I often make new friends.
Do you have any special memories of babouches, and do you wear them now?
I used to wear them when I was a kid with caftans during parties at school or family celebrations. I think that babouches add a fancy touch to a traditional outfit, without making your feet suffer from extremely tight shoes. There are lots of styles, shapes, colors, made with various materials. Personally, I love the ones with glitter, because you can wear them with any color!