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Andrea Bury
Rethinking Marrakech, and Herself

01 MBO Andrea Bury Header Portrait

Words Ken BaronImages courtesy Andrea Bury

Andrea Bury is a woman who always wants to change things for the better. But often the biggest change comes from within.

Sometimes the greatest challenge for Andrea Bury is not to be Andrea Bury. That is, not planning everything twenty steps ahead and then expecting the world to conform to her plans. Take AneYela, a luminous three-room and two-suite city palace in Marrakech. Bury’s original plans called for building a Think Tank, “a workshop for innovators and people thinking outside the box,” she explains. “A place for artists, designers, historians, and politicians.”

02 MBO Andrea Bury Portrait
03 MBO Andrea Bury Anayela Courtyard
04 MBO Andrea Bury Anayela Architecture Detail

After finding this “special hidden place in the Medinah,” as she puts it, “we came in as Germans with a 30-page Microsoft PowerPoint plan for the building. The local workers looked at us as if we were crazy. But we learned to communicate. We moved toward each other. I came to see that it’s not just your view that rules the world, but other views that are as good or even better. Their way works. And then you learn, ‘Whoa, let go!’”
Another plan Bury wound up changing was the Think Tank itself, which was originally conceived together with her then-husband Bernd Kolb. “It seemed a pity that it was empty when the thinkers weren’t there,” she says. “So we said, ‘Why not use it as a hotel?’ We opened in 2008.”
But perhaps the biggest sea change Bury experienced involved her life itself. Back when she was a student studying economics in Stuttgart, she was working at a major German company and realized that all the divisions there were fighting. Which lead to her long-term plan: “I wanted to be a communications diplomat. But to do that I had to learn the many disciplines of corporate life. So I moved to Hamburg to work in advertising, then London to work in corporate identity, then Monaco for organizing and events, and then Munich for PR. “ The result? “After all this I thought the last thing I ever want to do in my life is to work at a big corporation!”
Armed with all these skills, Bury started her own agency, called Calliope, while still in Munich, working with companies such as Deutschebank and Volkswagen. Calliope is a muse from mythology, which Bury thinks is fitting. “I am the modern muse. I inspire the brand so the customer buys.”

05 MBO Andrea Bury

“Marrakech touches people because it is intense, challenging, inspiring, and provocative.”

Andrea Bury

But by 2005 it was Bury herself who needed inspiring. “I moved to Berlin,” she says. “It’s the most creative place in Germany. For what I love it’s the best place to be.” At the time that “love” still needed a fine point. Bury looked around and saw that money was buying superficial experiences, “like paying to shake a celebrity’s hand,” she says. “I thought how could I create experiences that touch people? Marrakesh would be perfect because it’s very intense, it’s challenging for the outsider, inspiring, and provocative.”
Indeed, one of the people most inspired was Bury herself. “For the construction and renovation of AnaYela, we did everything with the local craftsman. I learned about their skills, but also their stories. They can’t send their kids to higher schools, their women can’t read or write. So I started bringing their goods back to Germany and people asked me for more of ‘these beautiful things with stories behind them.’ It sounds like an answer for the Moroccans, but they don’t know what the international market wants. I am not a designer but I can create a platform that brings young avant garde designers from all over the world and these local artisans together.”

06 MBO Andrea Bury Marrakech Carpets
07 MBO Andrea Bury Scissors Detail
08 MBO Andrea Bury Woman Embroider

And that’s exactly what Bury did in 2011, giving birth to the Abury Foundation (, which today brings international designers to local artisans in Morocco and Ecuador so they can both learn from each other, create a collection together, and then bring it to market, with 50 percent of the profits going into education projects in the local communities. “That’s what we do!” Bury says proudly, almost as if it’s all come out exactly as she’d planned.

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