HISTORY OF ARABESQUE

Adil Naji

Owned and managed by the Naji family, the family businesses, known as Moresque Sarl and Arabesque Inc. specialize in traditional Moroccan styles of interiors and furnishings. The Najis have gained a worldwide reputation of mastering a wide variety of activities such as carving on plaster, wood, and brass, and producing and installing Moroccan handmade tiles (Zellij). The family has been recognized internationally for its craftsmanship and authentic, timeless masterpieces.

Moresque was established informally in 1928 by Maalem (Master artisan) Mhammed Telmsani Eissaoui in Fez starting out with only 10 employees.
With no assets, workshops or capital except the skills he acquired from working with his father and his uncles, Mhammed was determined to carry on the family trade and to pass it on to his children.
In 1928, along with his oldest son Abdelhadi, a half dozen skilled artisans and a few apprentices, Mhammed started working on large projects, mainly the King’s palace in Fez and many residences of the elite of influential businessmen and politicians.
Abdelkader and Mohammed joined their father and oldest brother in 1940 to bring new blood and a fresh sprit to a business that now stood for a family tradition and a living art carried from one generation to another.

In the mid- 1950’s, the Eissaoui Tlemassani family became a well-known brand and one of the most prominent families in Morocco to work in the handcraft industry. Acknowledging the Tlesmasai Eissaoui contribution in the field of craftsmanship and Moroccan interior architectural design and decoration, the Moroccan government named the street where the business was located after their craft ‘Derb El Gebbas’.
In 1960, Maalem Abdelkhader Tlemssani (the middle son of Mhammed Tlemssani and one of the most talented craftsmen in ornamental plaster in Fez) took over the family business then known only by the family name Tlemssani. At the time,
all business was still conducted based solely on reputation and trust yet it is governed by the guild .
Mhammed Naji Moroccan tiles
The new team consisted of the three Tlemssani brothers and their two nephews Mhammed and Mohammed Naji (children of Kenza Tlemssani, the only daughter of Mhammed Tlemssani), all of whom developed their skills at an early age. Abedelkader Tlemssani and his skillful team of twenty artisans accomplished sizeable projects, such as the refurbishment of the royal palace in Fez in 1964 and the renovation of the Grand Mosque in Paris in 1966 as well as several mosques in Algeria and Tunisia.
In 1967, Mhammed Naji and Mhammed Telmsani, Aissawi’s grandson, took over the family business and formed a sole proprietorship called Naji Plaster. Leading 50 talented craftsmen and interior designers, Maalem Mhammed Naji undertook several projects that were recognized in Morocco, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
In the 1990’s, many young family members joined the family business. They were not only present in the managerial level but also in the design and execution stages of the business under their father’s supervision.
After gaining his academic degrees from Morocco, France, and the United Kingdom as an Ornamental Master Designer in 1992, Mohammed Naji, Jr. joined the family business. He is well-known for creating and developing new ornamental designs of carved stucco plaster. These new designs can be seen in some of the projects that he designed and supervised, such as the restoration of the Old Religious Schools Foundouk Nejjereen and Madrassa Bouanania in Fez. Following their brother Mohammed’s footsteps, Hicham, Reda and Adil Naji joined the business later.

Arabesque, the second Naji family company, was founded in 1996, and in 2000 its operations were incorporated in the U.S. and Morocco. The family dissolved Naji Plaster and Moresque Sarl was incorporated in Fez as a private limited liability company. In order for the family business to continue being competitive, a new management style was required to reach the next level.
Mhammed Naji Palace in spain
After Adil Naji completed his studies in business management and administration in Washington, DC, he took over the newly formed companies and became the President of Arabesque, Inc. in the U.S., while his father assumed the same position in Moresque, Sarl in Morocco. Both companies are managed with a parallel vision intended to expand and strengthen the businesses, create a worldwide brand for the family.
Constantly seeking to preserve the Moroccan and Andalusian artistic tradition and its place in modern art and design, the Naji family established the Arabesque Research Center (ARC) in

2001

. The goal of the centre is to incorporate and develop the latest design information and technology in conjunction with Moroccan architectural decoration.