Visitors to The Riad could be forgiven for thinking they’ve come across a mirage, or taken an instantaneous magic carpet ride to a lush desert oasis complete with towering date palms and an opulent palace of ornate pavilions, glittering pools, splashing fountains and cool marbled colonnades. Yet this sumptuous vision is very real indeed, located in the heart of Queensland’s Hinterland – a Moroccan masterpiece brought to life in meticulous detail by Artnow International.

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For the couple who call The Riad home, this exotic masterpiece is the embodiment of their wonderful memories of travels throughout the Middle East, particularly Morocco, where they fell in love with the culture, Moroccan style, inspiring people, and experiences. From Casablanca to Fez and Marrakech to Tangier they explored markets, befriended local artisans and brought with them back to Australia a myriad of collectables, art pieces, furniture and rare rugs to embellish the interior of their dream home in Moroccan style.

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More than an evocation of Morocco, however, The Riad is intentionally designed to stimulate the senses. It’s all about the mood – driving through the gates you feel as though you’re entering another world, a world founded on authenticity and opulence. Every room, every element is an experience and each room evokes a range of different emotions. The Riad tells a story of the owners’ journeys and is a replica of all they love about Morocco – experiential and exotic.

Showcasing work in homes globally, Artnow International boasts an extensive portfolio and has left its mark on some of the most prestigious hotels and residences in the world, from Palazzo Versace to the private homes of elite clientele and palaces of royal families.

Embellished with authentic Moroccan pieces and exceptional detail at every turn The Riad’s spectacular master-suite offers a sumptuous retreat that is spacious yet warm and inviting. Custom finishes to the ceilings and the deep emerald green walls by Artnow International add a rich and exotic ambience that almost feels as though you’re entering another world.

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Such a high level of authenticity, however, requires the skills of exceptional artisans and would not have been possible to achieve here in Australia without the talents of Rodney Surawski and his team at Artnow International. Artnow International is an Australian-founded creative company that specialise in Fine Art Solutions and Interior Design. Established in 1990, the company incorporates leading Artists, Sculptors, and Interior Design professionals from around the world. The handpicked Artnow International team is comprised of some of the world’s finest artisans from Italy, America, and Australia, offering expertise in many fine art disciplines including luxury finishes, hand-painted feature ceilings and domes, wall murals, marouflage, Trompe-l’oeil and custom made sculptures.

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Often, Rodney is engaged by his clients to act as both the Art Director and Interior Designer. The Riad, however, is a unique exception with the owners collaborating as the Interior Designers and Rodney as the Art Director. The clients had an eclectic vision for their Moroccan-style inspired home and Rodney brought this to life. The Artnow International Artisans touched every surface both internally and externally – from the exterior designed to emulate traditional Moroccan buildings to the antiquing of doors and cabinetry, bronzing, ornate ceilings, metallic finishes, and even artificial rockwork.

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Where fountains softly trickle below blue skies visible through the soaring glass ceiling, the spectacular entry of the home, designed in traditional Riad style (an enclosed courtyard), welcomes guests into an exotic journey to the Middle East.

Created to become the heart of this spectacular home, the design of the expansive kitchen, along with every other room, was a close collaboration between Rodney and the client and features an array of Artnow International’s exquisite artisanal work including, custom- designed ceilings with hand-painted finishes and hand- painted antiquing to the cabinetry.

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Upholstered in rich, exotic fabric, an adjoining banquet seating area offers an inviting space
for relaxed dining in the kitchen, whilst a mix of sumptuous soft furnishings and stunning bespoke finishes to the ceilings and walls creates an opulent space to entertain guests in style in the formal dining area.

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“We work closely with our clients through each stage, from concept design, through to completion of each project, to bring our clients’ vision to fruition. This case was slightly unusual where the client had very clear ideas for their Moroccan inspired home and essentially acted as the Interior Designers and I acted as the Art Director. It was however a very enjoyable process because it became a creative journey in collaboration with the clients, who have become lifelong friends.” – Rodney Surawski.

From the soaring entrance with glass ceiling and tinkling fountains to the grand master wing with rich deep emerald green finishes, vast sleeping, relaxing and dressing zones, a Turkish bath and his and hers bathrooms, to open air garden pavilions and recreational areas including a billiard room, cinema room and swimming pools, The Riad is truly experiential, exotic, moody and dramatic on a scale rarely, if ever, seen in Australia. Everywhere is to be found the richness of ornate lighting and metalwork, elaborate mosaic tiling, polished parquet timber flooring, carved timberwork and bespoke finishes.

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Despite its authenticity, The Riad is also a hi-tech, thoroughly modern, home. All the smart electrical work throughout was installed by Mark Bridger and his team at Bridger Automation.

“The Riad was one of our most anticipated and exciting projects to date,”says Mark. “With 16 zones of distributed video, 22 zones of distributed audio, home cinema, lighting control, access control, integrated intercom, alarm and CCTV, all tied together using a RTI Control System. This home is truly a masterpiece and we thank the amazing clients for the opportunity to be involved in delivering such an incredible project.”

Palatial and imposing, yet with a welcoming warmth, The Riad is not just any home but a magic carpet ride to an Arabian Nights world of exotic romance and adventure.

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