Before Morocco launched Africa’s first high speed train in November, the building and renovation of the train stations was entrusted to a remarkable Moroccan designer, known as the “spearheader of contemporary design.”
Hicham Lahlou, 45, the Moroccan designer born in Rabat whose signature is recognized throughout the African and Arab world, is at the top of his craft with two decades of experience in the design of cities, urban furniture, tableware, plastic art, commercial architecture, and graphic design.
Lahlou, who studied at Paul Cezanne middle school and Lycee Descartes high school in Rabat, found a passion for drawing at a young age which later developed into a love for design.
He later moved to Paris to study at Academie Charpentier in Paris, from which he graduated as interior architect and designer.
Five years later, he began to work with Airbus Industrie and Siemens, an industrial manufacturing company. After working with renowned architect Aziz Lazrak, Lahlou created his own architectural collection inspired by Moroccan heritage in 1999, marking the beginning of his career.
Lahlou has now marked the four Moroccan bullet train stations of Tangier, Kenitra, Rabat-Agdal, and Casablanca Voyageurs with his signature.
Lahlou and his team planned and designed each of the stations’ interior space decor and furniture including waiting halls or lounges, counters, reading tables, coffee tables, reception desks, armchairs, and integrated screens.
The signatures of other talented architects, Omar Kobite, Yassir Khalil, and Youssef Melehi, who worked with Lahlou also made a mark on all the stations except Rabat.
Lahlou began working on the stations’ design in March 2016
with a team of six architects. According to Lahlou, all of the furniture in the stations was made in Morocco.
He said: “Most of the pieces in the stations were designed in local industrial workshops by local craftsmen.”
Lahlou described the concept of the new station designs as one that is “not scenographic” butt “precedes the expectations of the different travelers who will frequent the [stations’] common spaces.”
The new Kenitra train station cost approximately MAD 400 million.
The Casa-Voyageurs train station cost MAD 450 million, and renovation at Tangier-Ville cost MAD 360 million.
All the new stations have state-of-the-art technology that meets international standards in terms of safety, comfort, security, and quality of services.
Lahlou has represented Morocco and Africa with several masterpieces and design exhibitions abroad, chaired many competitions, and received prestigious awards.
One of his noteworthy awards from two years ago was the distinction of Chevalier from the Order of Arts and Letters in France for his contributions to the field of design.
Lahlou’s contemporary masterpieces find spaces in international museums such as the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Lahlou has also worked on big projects for prestigious international brands, such as French interior design DAUM, French Ecart International for furniture design, and Belgian Aquamass Design.