If he is told that he is in love with Tunisia, he gets angry. He considers himself Tunisian. His brand, Rock The Kasbah, was born with the revolution brings him luck. He evolves quickly, works a lot, invests and manages to create a recognizable style, especially in Tunis. Philippe Xerri has just completed the decoration of a new guest house in Sousse, Dar Antonia, the opportunity for 1001tunisie to meet him and see where he is in relation to his bet; to adapt Tunisian craftsmanship to current interiors.
Interview led by Amel DJAIT
1001Tunisia: And if you started by introducing us Rock The Kasbah
Philippe Xerri: Rock The Kasbah was born on January 3, 2011. It is in a way a baby of the revolution! The idea is to have a very strong energy, hence the word “Rock”, and to be modern, mixed with a traditional side, which is “El Kasbah”. It is therefore a bet and a commitment of modernity with respect for values, artisans, materials, …
Today, brand is a success that is becoming international. Is it a Tunisian brand internationally or is it a French brand installed in Tunisia?
I had the chance to be adopted and accepted by Tunisians. I am Tunisian. The brand is Tunisian. It brings a European touch in general and French especially in the Tunisian tradition.
Rock The Kasbah started with the accessory and the small object of decoration. Today, the brand is evolving, opening a shop and attacking the layout, decoration, staging … How did this evolution evolve in your field of intervention and in the business?
Rock The Kasbah has matured. It is an adult expression today. You know, being created in full revolution, with an obligation of survival, it led us to make in the most accessible at the beginning with products easy to manage, to transport, to cut, to produce, to set up, … Then we created a line of heavier furniture. We went to the real scenery. Instinctively, hoteliers and restaurateurs took the product and very quickly we were led to create complete minds, “life style”.
With our store openings in Sidi Bou Said, Ile Sur la Sorgue and soon in Marseille, we needed to create a global concept.
Rock The Kasbah has just decorated a guest house in Sousse; Dar Antonia. What aesthetic apriori Rock The Kasbah took for this establishment?
The house of Sousse is a pretty little house, not regular and which has a human volume. It was interesting for Rock The Kasbah to work on the etiquette in a house. We did not have to work on a hotel, but on a guest house. So we respected the setting, the place, the specifications ….
The idea was to create a house where one receives with beautiful living spaces and mini suites providing total comfort while allowing immersion in a place that is both extremely modern and deeply Tunisian. It was necessary that in the rooms alternate different spirits like feminine, masculine, sport, chic, finesse, elegance, …
In concrete terms, how is it going? How is a house apprehended? How to infuse a soul? How to lay the groundwork for a desired way of life and to be exploited by a third party, ie the customer?
The meeting with the owner of Dar Antonia, Sami Methlouthi, was a nice meeting. He discovered our shop in Sidi Bou Said and asked us to work for him. He trusted us completely. His project was in progress but he said “I want it”!
From there, he agreed to undo things at the masonry level to follow our advice. It took us 4 months and we re-studied some volumes. We worked on colors. The furniture was created for this house. It was necessary to purge and juggle between the volumes and some very marked ideas of the owner. We worked on sizes, dimensions, materials of furniture, … The result proves that we can do modern in the tradition. And I admit that particularly in front of such books, I am delighted that my brand is called Rock The Kasbah!
But all this has a certain cost. Tailoring must be overpriced. Can we afford a cabinet like yours, not for a house but for a commercial project?
This is the goal when we use an office like ours. We reflect with the client’s budget. We think of the final budget of the sale of the product and we ask where to put the night on the market. The night, if it is 80 euros, we can not afford luxury services. By cons, and this is where Rock The Kasbah is also very strong, we can bring a different proposal in relation to the financial stake put. We help to optimize the budget.
For Dar Antonia, we have worked and manufactured. We crushed our margins to get some coins. We all set out to get the project done. The result is there and it’s nice to see!
So, you are totally committed to the project
Dar Antonia and Rock The Kasbah was love at first sight. We said let’s go and do a little miracle with a classic budget. We presented to the client suppliers, we planted together, colored together, … We registered as true project leaders!
Dar Antonia is not the only guest house in Tunisia on which you work.
Absolutely, we are working on a beautiful house in Nabeul; Dar El Gaied. We are at the last touch.
In France, we participated in a lot of guest houses. We realized 100% of a hotel in St Barth which is called the Tropical Hotel and which is the second oldest hotel on the island (https://www.facebook.com/pg/tropicalhotelstbarths/photos/?ref=page_internal)
We also worked a lot on restaurants like Le Perchoir, which is the first rooftop in Paris ( http://leperchoir.fr ) At the time, everything started from Tunisia. The objects, the craftsmen and artists, the architect … It’s a small piece of Tunis that landed there. Today, this place seems so Parisian! He has come a long way and opened 4 points since.
Tunisia gave a lot to Rock The Kasbah. Rock The Kasbah carries far and high the colors of Tunisia. This “Tunisian Spirit” is good for the business and the image of the country. But what is the company’s relationship with local artisans? Is their work recognized? Are they involved in the projects? Does the press speak to them?
It is very difficult to talk about this without preaching for one’s parish. I will answer you with facts. When we started, Rock The Kasbah was working with 3 to 4 artisans in the region. Today, we have more than 40 and we have integrated in our workshops in La Soukra 3 others. The company was operating in a 80m2 workshop. We are at 3000 m2 and we have workshops by specialties.
In the regions, we have our core and we develop more than ever our network with favorites. Moreover, we never stop prospecting. You know what allows a general craftsman like us, it is to push the artisans to progress in the work. By the stability it provides, our partners and craftsmen become more efficient, they create jobs themselves, are innovative and committed …
An example ?
Jenette, our pottery fairy in Sejnane. She has 4 women working all year with her. If Mohamed, our mr Weaving in Kairouan, he makes work of the world, grows and evolves. The artisans are valued and engage with us. They are very happy when they are quoted in an international magazine.
Philippe Xerri, how do you see Rock The Kasbah in 2020?
2020 is already tomorrow and we have plans for 2019! What I hope is even more serious, a good cruising speed to go higher internationally.
You know for us, what is important is to anticipate deliveries, support product lines, develop our network of shops and continue to “Rocker” the “Kasbah” for years to come.
To know more about Rock The Kasbah