In his latest book, Jean Louis Deniot: Destinations (Rizzoli), the legendary French interior designer takes readers across oceans to explore 18 of the most breathtaking retreats he’s ever created, from a cozy dacha on Yves Saint Laurent’s former property in Normandy to a sprawling Edward Lutyens–inspired estate in New Delhi—and even one very luxurious private jet.
Among the personal of these projects is Deniot’s own vacation home in Tangier, Morocco. Surrounded by lush gardens, pools, and terraces, it’s where the designer goes to relax—and entertain—in laid-back style.
To see more of this magical destination, read on for an excerpt from the book.
On the Moroccan coast where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, Tangier is a port town, a bridge between Europe and Africa. Strategically located on the strait of Gibraltar, Tangier is less than ten miles away from the Spanish coast. It is said that you go to Marrakech to be seen and to Tangier to stay under the radar. The antidote to his many obligations, it is here where Jean-Louis is truly himself, where he can recharge on his own terms and find the serenity to fuel his creative inspiration.
Your home in Tangier is an ode to nature.
It’s as if it were an outdoor palace of sorts! It’s on the scale of one, but it’s created only by the lush vegetation. The Garden is phenomenal and it still has not reached maturity. The towering palm trees are like gigantic columns and the umbrella pines act as large arches to create a cathedrallike effect. Yes, it’s a tribute to nature, very much alive and ever-changing, demanding adaptability and a very flexible plan.
What did you discover with this home?
Thanks to this marvelous place, I finally discovered and embraced the elements of nature and began working on the landscaping for the house. It’s like the garden of Eden with a collection of palm trees and fantastic umbrella pines, the roses, the jasmine. It’s the idyllic Mediterranean garden. I love it here because for once it’s not about the interiors. It’s all about the exteriors!
It’s also a place of great joy…
The whole point of a unique space like this is to share it with others and create moments that celebrate life. In Tangier, there is a grand tradition of giving fun and entertaining parties. It’s the perfect destination to carry on this ritual, and I’m enjoying doing it very much. I find it quite fantastic that everybody gets to enjoy a great event.
How has Tangier inspired you?
I finally found my tribe with whom I feel extremely comfortable to be totally myself. It’s the place where I can be the most relaxed and enjoy precious times with my partner, William. Instead of seeking uniformity, it’s a place that embraces diversity with an open heart and mind. That’s what I find so inspiring. Tangier has hosted many renowned and creative people, the likes of Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac …
Tangier has hosted many renowned and creative people, the likes of Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac…
Traditionally, there has always been an active artistic community of multigenerational writers, painters, decorators, and creatives in general infusing the city with a mixture of culture and aesthetics.
I love the fact it has still remained untouched. It’s like being in a time capsule that is oriented toward the future. I’m embracing the transformation that has begun, and I feel like I’m participating in the process with my own home. It feels like the land of opportunities
You are always thinking about the future…
I’m not here to give you what you wish for now. My challenge is to make you discover your taste for the next fifteen to twenty years. And that’s what keeps me and the clients excited. They require tremendous energy and attention, dedication, and passion. I receive messages from them years later when they are still discovering design elements in their homes, that’s when they realize our attention to detail. I perform on a job for a few years, but someone will live in that space for dozens of years afterwards.
What have you learned?
I learn every day. I am always trying to improve and tweak, because we’re still testing every single thing on every single site. We are always fine-tuning, perfecting, and looking to push further technically and aesthetically, always guided by the notion of excellence and harmony.
When you graduated from the prestigious École Camondo in Paris, what was your dream?
As a 25-year-old graduate, my dream was to land a project where I could demolish everything and then reconstruct the layout to fit my vision. It was the idea of being able to build, to construct. Today, the scale has changed, but I still take it as the same exercise even if certain developments are 100,000 square feet in scope.
I’m often asked which is my favorite project. I don’t have one that stands out because all are my favorites in very different ways, but one thing they all have in common is that they are equally loved.
This article is reproduced from Destinations: Jean-Louis Deniot, Rizzoli, 2022.