Thursday, October 12, 2017

The History Behind the Famous Tazi Brush

There are very few plastic objects that have achieved such fame as the Tazi brush. This seemingly simple invention is now found world-wide, but few know its Moroccan origins

 It would be difficult to find a Moroccan home without at least one of these brushes.  Despite its rather basic appearance the Tazi brush has become a cult object! Since it was first released onto the market in 1954 it has sold more than 400 million pieces and currently sells around 12 million a year. Around the world it as been pirated, copied and mass-produced. Looking through the souqs of Fez, The View From Fez  even found one labelled "Made in Australia" and with no mention of the Tazi name.

The man behind the Tazi brush was an extraordinary Moroccan inventor, Abdelaziz Tazi, who died this week (October 10th). He was 91.

Abdelaziz Tazi

Born in 1926 in Fez, Abdelaziz Tazi lost his father, a trader and wholesaler of tea while he was still only a child. Second oldest of seven children, he began working as a radio repairman at the age of 15 to support his family.

In the late 1940s, he left Fez and moved to  to Casablanca where he became engaged in the struggle for Morocco's independence. A man of the left, he joined the Moroccan Communist Party, which later became the PPS, and which he remained close to throughout his life.

After independence, Abdelaziz Tazi went into business and invested in a material that he believed would revolutionise the lives of households: plastic. He invented the famous brush that bears his name - the brush with round tips to leave room for the fingers that direct it - although in an interview with The Economist in 1992, declined the paternity of the famous object, declaring soberly: "imitate first, then create".

He is also responsible for cult objects such as the famous plastic ball and the "cat on wheels" (Le chat à roulette). In 1965, he founded the company Richbond "dedicated to the commercialisation of plastic."

Le chat à roulette - every child's toy

Abdelaziz Tazi was also the man who came up with the idea of using polyurethane foam instead of the lumpy wool and alfa in Moroccan furnishings.

From 1983 onwards, following the economic downturn, he chose the path of integrated diversification: Richbond became a spinner, then a weaver, then a manufacturer.

Tazi was also, along with his wife, patron of the arts and sponsor of the eponymous Touria and Abdelaziz Foundation and  initiator of the L'Uzine cultural space.


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