Monday, November 21, 2011

Perfect Imperfections: The doors of Zanzibar

Welcome to Stone Town, Zanzibar

In writing for my  blog, I need to dig deep into my own persona: who am I, what do I really like and dislike, how do I live this passage of time that is life? A while ago, I worked with Sean Low who helped me define the process of running a creative business. This exercise was very personal as I needed to really understand and assess the core of my creative mind. In the end, it became evident that my design aesthetics are not about the expected perfection of an object, a piece of furniture or a space but quite the opposite. I need to feel a space, touch an object, to see and feel a piece of fabric, the texture of a chair or a table needs to stand on its own. The design of a piece of furniture or the inspiration for a new collection always comes to me from a part of the past, a discarded object or material, or even a few lines from a book.

It all came so clearly to me, what speaks to me, what I strive for in design and in my personal life is perfect imperfections. The essence of beauty seen, felt, breathed, touched... from this I  will be writing a small series of jottings on perfect imperfections.

Hidden in the corner, I am indeed the lady in black

I will start with the doors of Zanzibar. I travelled all the way to Zanzibar, a rather small island off the coast of Tanzania to see its famous entry doors. The splendor of Oman's influence and its wealth is long gone, but what remains is a richness in history, texture, display of wealth, tortuous narrow streets, decayed gardens, ancient palaces and  one's imaginations can go wild with visual stories of exotic days gone by.

For hours, I walked under tremendous heat in Stone Town's narrow streets, admiring, touching, watching the inhabitants of these houses go in and out via these magnificent doors. These doors are mute witnesses to the richness of the ancient Omani culture, beautifully sculpted in rare woods or sometimes just simple doors that evoke the terrible human suffering during the sordid times of slavery and far too often, death.

The doors with a chain design belonged to the slave traders. Zanzibar was once the main center for arab slave trading. The inhumanity of such men is almost palpable as one walks through the narrow street and enter some of the holding cells for enslaved men and women.

My imagination was running wild while looking at these remnants  of past splendors

Very tempted to ship this one home!

More to come on fascinating Zanzibar, its culture, people,architectural heritage and its famous beaches and hotels.

A bientot,



  1. I am surprised to see that the Zanzibar that I so loved has not been cleaned up, stripped down as I assumed that it must have been by now. It is haunting in it's beauty, isn't it?

    I will look forward to the next installment...!

  2. Wow; fantastic doors, exotic locale....thanks for stopping by today; I am off to see some of your older posts.

  3. What incredible doorways Francine...and I understand so well your fascination with the perfection of imperfection... I look forward to seeing and hearing more... xv

  4. Gorgeous, I love all the doors as they take me back to the time that I lived in both Turkey and India.

    Leeann x

  5. Hi, Francine, Zanzibar has long been on my list so I really enjoyed this post. Thanks also for following. I've been following you for some time now. :) All the best, Ally

  6. What absolutely GORGEOUS doors! I loved reading your profile as well. I lived in Beverly, Mass while my husband earned his Ph.D. at BU. I spent time in France, in the South, and I too enjoyed NYC for a time. THANK YOU FOR COMING! Anita

  7. the photographs are beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the one with woman in the bhurka.
    have a wonderful thanksgiving!!!

  8. Great Doors - if you want to see some video of Stone town and where to stay please see

  9. Francine-
    Thank you for your candid look throughout this community. I feel like I was there!
    I love the doors and I can see why you want to ship the doors home. Not only for the history behind them, but the beauty. These door are a amazing.

  10. Fabulous!! So interesting and LOVE the idea of your series on perfect imperfections!!

  11. So fascinating Francine. I love these unique doors.

    Thank you so much for your note. I am sorry to hear of your Mother and your rushed flight to France. Take care.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    Love and Hugs

    Art by Karena

  12. Fantastic Francine
    Zanzibar is somewhere i've always wanted to visit.. perhaps one day.. for now your photos will suffice... I love your design philosophy.. i feel similar about art..if only I could apply it to life!!

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.. ciao xxx Julie

  13. Francine, I saw your comment on Karina's blog and am sending strength to you and your Mom. Travel safe.

  14. What an exquisite post. Thank you Francine for always sharing so much of yourself, your thoughts and your essence with us. Always an inspiration.

  15. Just beautiful. Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season!

  16. Amazing what a door can tell and be .... I would have loved to see them myself.

    So interesting to delve around and find what really speaks to you in finding the core of your creative mind.

    Look forward to reading more,
    thank you so much for your comment

  17. Totally enchanting!! I would want to ship it all home!!, beautiful.. Carla


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