After years of travelling to inspiring places and meeting extraordinary people, an architect and designer couple felt a longing to bring together their personal experiences and values and share them with others, hence the birth of Villa Laba. Thomas Fourtané is a a French architect based in South Corsica, his studio Archipetrus creates exclusive residential homes, sensitively integrated into the Corsican landscape with consideration for the natural environment. Filippa Knutsson is co-founder of Swedish fashion brand Filippa K and spent many years as Creative Director developing the label and its minimalist expression from the headquarters in Stockholm. Thomas and Filippa live together in Corsica and share a passion for travel and authentic experiences, and Morocco has always been a favourite destination. A special place, where they always returned home feeling relaxed and inspired thanks to the wonderful Moroccan hospitality, the bright and sunny climate and not least, the incredible culture of design and craftsmanship that they both love.

After discovering the Sidi Kaouki region through Moroccan architect friend Moha Agouni, the couple instinctively felt this was the right place to create an intimate hotel. The mix of incredible light, wide open landscape, ocean view with amazing sunsets, was both inspiring and stimulating. Thomas, as architect, was keen to work with traditional building methods and apply a contemporary sense of space and design to ancient techniques, creating a structure that blended effortlessly with its surroundings. The collaboration with Moha was key, his knowledge, advice and skill have helped navigate the construction process and furthermore he has been a vital link to the local Berber community.

Filippa focused on the interior design, embracing the handwoven textiles, simple carpentry and wonderful crafts Morocco is known for, creating an atmosphere of rustic simplicity with a twist of elegance. Replacing electric lamps with candles was part of the concept from the very start, based on the couple’s own experiences during their travels. They discovered that living by candlelight was both magical and grounding, helping them slow down and experience true rest, something they were keen to share with others.

The project has been long in the making, four years have passed since the building started. It’s a genuine example of ‘slow- build’, the foundations dug out with spades, every stone chiselled by hand, even the cement has been mixed by hand. A team of masons have lived on site, working hard all day and cooking tagines together in the evening. Their patience, endurance and skill has been impressive as well as all the specialist craftsmen that have been involved in bringing the project to life.  

Finding the right person to manage the hotel and be the ambassador of Villa Laba was crucial and meeting Nawel Senoussaoui was a real blessing. Her sense of style, attention to detail, professionalism and warm personality immediately clicked with Thomas and Filippa. Her skill in overseeing many aspects of the final building phase and her network of suppliers has also been invaluable to the project. Nawel has years of experience managing restaurants in Paris and she brings her passion for cooking and hospitality to the guesthouse. She leads a dedicated team who work to make Villa Laba a special place.

Thomas and Filippa hope to inspire a sense of well-being through Villa Laba, combining the adventure of travel and discovery with the magic of simplicity and authenticity. To offer relaxation and calm but also inspiration and energy. Not least, to simply share their love of Berber culture and the unique grounding energy that is Africa.