Christiane Smit, born in Netherlands, creates leather bags the old fashioned traditional way: by using her hands. She begun her career in retailing as a store manager and used to travel a lot for work and leisure from Paris to Milan to attend fashion shows, from Mexico to Carribbean Islands to discover people and new culture.
The technique of hand stitching she is using is borrowed from the shoe and saddle making trades. This is really at the core of what defines her craft. As Christaine explained : "Each stitch is formed by hand with nothing more than an awl, one needle and a length of waxed linen. Very few companies can invest the time necessary to hand stitch their items, but the strength and resilience of hand stitching far exceeds the machine made equivalent."
Trend Tablet caught up with Christiane for an interview.
When did this new adventure started?
While I was occupied in former occupations I discovered my talent in creating bags and at the same time I was exploring my style. Just before I came to Greece, the magic island Paros I created my first hand stitched leather bag. Since I moved to Paros, taking Art History classes, I developed through working with leather my technique in hand stitching.
What is your motto ?
It was my love for soft though strong colors, structures of fine textiles, simple shapes, quality and unique and rare pieces of art, clothes and objects of nature and my passion for creation that through my former experiences and education gave life to a dream. I create customized bags that correspond to my standards for "Refined Simplicity" and high quality. That highlights femininity and serve the needs of contemporary women. The idea underlying is uniqueness through customizing, every woman is unique!
How to do you create your bags ?
I work by listening to my heart and selecting colors of leathers listening to my feelings. Creating my own trend but classic and durable... choosing colors and qualities that lasts and which are not subjected by trends! Buying qualities from Spain, Italy and Portugal and Holland. Advising the client by choosing the model and color living up to her needs... sometimes corresponding up to 30 mails!
How do you see your future?
Loving what I'm doing and being inspired by living in the Aegean sea, people and many more... enjoying always my passion for hand stitching... craftsmanship and creating...
Nadia Albertini, born and raised in Mexico City, is an embroidery and textile designer based in Paris. Her interest in embroidery started when she was just eight years old, when her grandma taught her the basic stitches for the first time. "I remember seing her embroidering a floral cushion with the most amazing colors! "
She has been working in fashion for the past six years. She has collaborated with Chloé, Chanel, Balmain and Jason Wu among others, creating hand embroidery designs for their ready to wear and haute couture labels. She had the chance to meet and work with very talented and inspiring people, either in Paris, London, New York or Mumbai.
Her latest project "All over Sequins" is the brand she is just launching for all the DIY fans of embroidery.Trend Tablet caught up with Nadia for an interview.
What lead you to a career in textiles & fashion?
I was born in Mexico City in a family where art and design are very important. My parents had a book-binding atelier, so I always saw them making things with their hands. I think seeing my grandmother doing embroidery was also very inspiring, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time. As a kid, I could spend hours drawing, painting. I enjoyed silk painting too but I never thought about studying textiles or fashion. That world was very far from ours. It all really started when I was 15, when I participated in the International Swarovski Elements Accessories Design Competition. We were to use their materials to embellish a fashion accessory. I remember I could have all the stones and beads and rhinestones I wanted for my project. I fell in love with their shine. After graduating from high school I moved to Paris to study textiles and fashion at the Duperré School of Applied Arts. I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly but then, I had my first internship at Chloé. And they needed help in the embroidery department. So I helped with the making of samples, hand embroidery swatches, fabric manipulations. It was a mix of a lot of techniques, some of which I learned from my grandmother. We had the chance to work with different materials from the best suppliers. After two months there, I knew I wanted to be an embroidery designer.
During the design process is there a suggestion of your multicultural background ?
There is, yes. My sister and I were always educated in both languages and both cultures, which gave us a very rich base for everything we do. I think being French/Mexican and having been raised in Mexico City surrounded by so much color and patterns trained my eye from a very young age. I remember wearing all sorts of embroidered and hand woven huipiles when I was a kid. We used to make trips to the countryside very often, especially to Oaxaca, to discover the most amazing places and crafts. I think we had a very free and inspiring childhood in Mexico, I don't think it would have been the same had we lived in Paris from a young age. Also, Mexican people do think outside the box. If we don't know how to make something, we try different things, we experiment, we explore possibilities, some of them quite surprising and unexpected. It is what my mom calls the "ingenio mexicano". It's a very instinctive, intuitive way of doing things and I hope to have a hint of that in my work.
You travel often to India, what has been the most significant experience while working there?
I love going to India. Every project and every team is different and I learn new things every day. Funny, when you know I don’t speak Hindi and most of the people I work with don’t speak English.
I have a fond memory about the first time I worked directly with the karigars (the embroidery workers). In France, only women do embroidery. There, it’s the opposite, only men do. I was trying to explain to them how to do a special technique but I could not find the words. So I took thread and needle, sat down in front of the frame and then… 60 people stopped working to look at me. It scared me a little bit, I thought they did not approve of that. But it wasn’t that, they were just amused and curious.
Why did you decide to launch DIY embroidery kits?
One of the main reasons I’ve started this project is to make embroidery and fashion embellishment more accessible. Not everyone can afford to buy an haute couture gown but everyone can learn a few stitches and make their own embellishment at home. Also, people still have this idea of embroidery being an outdated and old-fashioned pastime. I want them to look at it in a new way, to bring a younger and more contemporary version of this amazing technique. Working with your hands and making things yourself is deeply rewarding and can become an almost therapeutic activity. Friends often tell me embroidery is too complicated or hard to learn. So I wanted to give them an easy, funny and refreshing way to do it. My students at the London College of Fashion always kept asking for more techniques, more tricks, more designs, so I decided to launch the All Over Sequins website. I have been working for the fashion and embroidery industries for the past seven years. Each house, each atelier and each of the artisans I have collaborated with taught me different styles and techniques. With All Over Sequins, I want give back for everything I’ve learnt, by sharing this knowledge with a broader audience.
Do you have others DIY kits in preparation or any other plan for the future? Yes, I’m working on a series of kits like cushions, bags, pouches and lampshades inspired by different themes such as nature or tiles ornaments. They will be available online in the next couple of months. The blog is becoming a collaborative space where we share not only techniques and tutorials but also inspirations from our trips or research around our points of interests: exhibits, textile art, DIY craft, books, printing, vintage furniture and architecture. Through this project, I want to explore the relationship between illustration, print and embroidery, using a wide range of media and a variety of materials like sequins, stones, beads. I really enjoy teaching so I’m planning to open some courses in my atelier in Paris for people who want to learn more and explore hand embroidery.
Where can we find "All over Sequins" DIY?
The kits are available online in our website and are also at 'le Bon Marché' department store in Paris.
At the last Salone in Milano, in her 'Urban Tribe Series' Fiona Krüger proposes an urban take on tribal artefacts and patterns. The resulting products reflect key elements of an urban environment: industry, architecture and transport.
To date the series features two textiles, leather accessories for tablet and laptop and glass candleholders whose patterns take their cue from factories, engines, fire escapes and road markings.
Each product was made in collaboration with artisans who use traditional production methods.
The final pieces are a juxtaposition of graphic urban patterns, inspired by today’s modern cities, and traditional fabrication techniques, which bring a personal quality to the series.
A unique feeling of products hand made with love.
jorge diego etienne
Jorge Diego Etienne is a highly young motivated Industrial Designer from Mexico with a global perspective on design. He has experienced design at many levels and through alternative perspectives with studies at renown design schools like Central Saint Martins in London, Domus Academy in Milan, and Parsons the New School for Design in New York.
His studio in Monterrey, Mexico specializes in product design, furniture design and strategic consultancy for companies in Mexico and abroad. His products bring design into daily routines, combining cultural factors and technology, creating memorable experiences for every user.
We are happy to present two of his latest design: "The Second Object" and "the Service Trolley".
"The Second Object", designed in collaboration with Savvy Studio for Casa Bosques, is a mug that continues to work with the ideals of the brand by amplifying the rituals suggested by nature."The Second Object" is a personal item that’s kept close to its user during this process of contemplation. The design is inspired by traditional Japanese lacquered cups, although in this case, a ceramic container holds hot liquids and is held by a wooden cup that helps disperse heat.
The wood will gracefully age contrasting with ceramic that keeps a pristine appearance through the years. Both components of the Second Object are produced at local workshops with an outstanding family tradition in Monterrey, Mexico.
"The Service Trolley" rescues an old furniture archetype through an updated simple yet elegant design. Ediciones Jalapa invited Jorge Diego to create this object for their service furniture collection produced in collaboration with La Carpintería MX workshop. Ediciones Jalapa is a space dedicated to research, promote and develop design through limited edition contemporary objects. Parting from the typical form of a service cart constructed from two trays placed vertically, Jorge Diego shifts these basic elements, reworks the structure into a cantilever design and adds oversized front wheels to create a refreshed and dynamic language. Production was made at La Carpinteria MX, a traditional wood workshop focused on producing high quality handmade furniture with a revitalized sensitivity.
Jorge Diego 's sensible work is made to be used in our every day life, his products give us a deeper relation with nature and hand made productions.
Sophie Hérolt Petitpas is a french journalist free lance found of design and lifestyle. She is also passionate by astrology and its mythical and symbolic aspects. Curious and sensitive, she loved linking and describing her trend hunting with the eyes of mythology in her blog.
Siba Sahabi (Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam) poetic designer mixing her German and Iranian roots, proposed to the last Winters Salon in Amsterdam, a magnificent series of carafes, cups made from coiled coloured felt strips coated with a layer of paint on both sides. This collection took its inspiration from deep ancients times. Called “Between two rivers”, this serie evoks the ancient Greek translation of the term Mesopotamia, the cradle of Western civilization, birthplace of the pottery turntable. As a contemporary designer, Siba Sahabi has been inspired by the connection between this ancient land – located between the two rivers Tiger and Euphrate – and Western ceramic culture using new technologies. She works with the ideas to linked the tradition, the history and innovations, mixing both of them for an amazing result.
The turntable, that aided potters to design circular objects more accurately and faster, was invented in 3500 BC in Ur, an ancient Mesopotamian city, located in modern Iraq. Around 2200 BC, this invention was introduced in Greece and gave birth to a new style of Greek ceramic called Minyan Pottery which Siba has reinterpreted style in her modern felt sculptures.
The result is spectacular, because it’s almost impossible to know if it’s a genuine antic piece or a modern one. A circular, ribbed finish is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Minyan ware, which reflects its production process on a potter’s turntable. Although the turntable non longer plays a significant role in the production of modern large-sacle pottery today, the appearance of hand –turned ceramics is often imitated by producing cicular shapes with fine ridges. Siba reproduced this effect in the old way. Each object shows three colours : the original colour of the felt (surface of the ridges), the inside and outside of the objects. The dense and felt material translate the heavy appearance of the Minyan ware and exaggerate the size of the oversized vases, some of which are up to 50 cm.
A superb film entitled “ Pallas Athena” made by Siba Sahabi in collaboration with Lisa Kapple and Niels van den Top, shows the setting of a Greek pre-antique pottery workshop with the modern techniques of the felt coiling used by the artist. This film is beautifully dedicated to the spirit of Greek Goddess. The link between ancient technics and the renewal of craft is done with grace and talent.
Sophie Hérolt Petitpas
the soft world
The Soft World is a Dutch studio based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, specializing in unique felt products for the home and interiors. Launched in 2008 by Beatrice Waanders, the studio is one-of-a-kind for its innovative concept of felting raw and un-dyed wool from special sheep breeds in combination of traditional luxurious materials such as angora, alpaca, cashmere, and silk.
Environmentally friendly, The Soft World does not use chemical products, but rather exploits the rich color palette of the animals themselves. Beatrice travels around The Netherlands to find her wool at hobby-farmers and old heritage sheep-flocks that keep alive the old forgotten sheep breads, often using rare European breeds like the English Wensleydale Longwool, Blue Faced Leicester, and Swedish Gotland Pels. Each breed has a variety in structure and colors range from white to grey to browns.
While the mixture and sheep wool and other fibres is unique to Beatrice and her studio, the felting process is the oldest manner of making fabric. Felting began in Central and North-East Asia and was often used as clothing and shelter for nomadic peoples.
The Soft World's line ranges from products for the home interior including cushions, throws, poufs, carpets, and footstools. The Soft World also makes custom pieces for special projects for architects and interior designers.
Currently, in addition to hand-making her products, Beatrice gives Master classes on the felting process.
100% handmade felt, 100% eco-friendly, 100% craftsmanship, 100% natural colors and no dyeing, 100% wool of old european sheep breeds, from rabbits and goats, 100% animal friendly, 100% slow design, 100% made in Holland: 100% made with love.
fete for the senses
Rhiannon Silver Gilmore is a visual researcher and maker, creator of the inspiration blog Intelligent Clashing and writer on all things found beautiful and inspiring. She collects images and ideas and connects them to each other.
"Fete for the Senses" was a three day event that took place earlier last december in the Manhattan apartment of fibre artist Abigail Doan. With roots in Doan's own upbringing on a farm, where objects tended to have multiple functions and deep connections to each other, this celebration of organic goods, fibre art, fashion and collected objects sought to connect people via multi-sensory and tactile experiences. All of the work included in Fete for the Senses was either handmade, artisan-produced, textile rich, or completely organic in nature. For several years now Doan has been traveling between the U.S and Eastern Europe, and so for her holiday fete, she wanted to create a bridge between objects produced in NYC as well as in Bulgaria. She reached out to perfumer Parfum Lalun, who makes connections with unique ingredients indigenous to the landscapes of Eastern Europe, and selected works by Bazaar Bayar in Istanbul, Bulgar USA, Balmaseda, Eko-Lab, Marion + Willson and Sassa Bjorg in Sofia.
The Fete opened on a Sunday afternoon with organic treats and refreshments, invited guests included close friends, lovers of the handmade, gardeners, fiber experts, educators, a textile conservator, designers, a concert pianist and long-lost school acquaintances. All came to experience organic perfumes, savour locally made truffles and possibly try on a 'moss formation' dress by Balmaseda with no real agenda besides identifying what might be pleasurable and restorative for them. Botanicals and scents permeated the space and guests were invited to freely explore and discover objects from Doan's own home collection that were offset by the designs of featured participants.
Each maker was given their own room in the apartment and encouraged to immerse themselves in their specific zone. In this way sensual connections were made between object and space, the inner sanctuary of the bedroom became the setting for Eko-Lab's Dark Blossom collection and the aromas of organic scents created by Parfum Lalun were presented like an exotic recipe alongside Doan's own fibre forms and found botanic illustrations on the dining table.
The idea itself came from Dali's Les Diners de Gala, a 1971 publication with extravagant fete recipes and surrealistic visuals that explore the pleasures of taste and unbridled artistic passion. Inspired, Doan wanted to apply this spirit to the organic realm, one 'where fibre and slow craft methodologies might be at play and seem rich' connecting people with their senses and so providing them with vital information for meaningful decision making and more balanced consumption choices. In this way Fete for the Senses was meant to be more than a party, an exhibit, or a showcase but ultimately a way to sensitise each person to experiences that better inform them about what their true passions might be and in turn what they are hungry for and attracted to. In Doan's own words 'Desire is something that needs to be examined both as a way for creating deeper relations but also for gaging how sustainable strategies are ultimately implemented and shared.'
Rhiannon Silver Gilmore
julie l. parisi
Julie L.Parisi is a jewelry and textile designer from Oslo, Norway. Her fiery hair and pleasant disposition are reflected in her designs, both for their uniqueness and concept.
The current collection "Gold?" is made from braided metallic cord, and the artist plays with the idea of a visually heavy and chunky form which is lightweight and airy. The result is a contrast that gives the designer inspiration.
"A rose is a rose is a… And then you go up to ti and see, for the sake of argument, that it is an artificial rose. Then you become aware of the material it is made of, cloth or plastic or paper. But at first glance you were certain of one thing only, that it was a rose." -'Design as Art' by Bruno Munari.
Speaking on further inspiration, Julie states that she sees "patterns and colors everywhere!" After studying surface design in San Francisco, she continues that the city inspired even more color in her work and personal style.
Beyond jewelry, the artist created a Pop-up shop on a wheelbarrow with Astrid Wang to raise money for a school project in South-Sudan. She is currently working on a 'secret' project to support designers in Norway, a community that is creative and talented.
Check back with Julie on her blog to see where she goes next.
Text by Ryan Moritz
Corien Forest is a textile designer and carpet maker. Under her company name, Bosenco, Corien creates brightly patterned textiles inspired by nature and traditional or folkloric patterns.
The motifs of these handmade textiles are derived from nature in the far north, with forms like stars, snow, ice, needle branches, hearts, and geometric lines. A variety of color combinations are visible, which comes from the necessity to create a strong and warm effect using two threads.
Originally a graphic designer, Corien is inspired by the designs and colors of Scandinavian, English, and French patterns with a rich history. Communities in these areas have for centuries had their own pattern and color combinations using a variety of crosses, diamonds, and roses to make lovely designs.
Bosenco carpets were born by putting these historical and geometrical motives in a large formats and in a new context.
For the future, Corien hopes to reflect sheet music from organ books into designs which will be named after the titles of the music. Among her favorites include the color red, stretching in the morning, wool, Phillip Glass, and a cold potato salad on a summer day.
India Flint is a visual artist, specializing in natural dyeing techniques in the deep south of the Australia. She uses bio-regional and ecologically sustainable dyes from windfallen leaves, bark, and earth pigments with cloth, paper, felt, and weaving. The artist was recently featured in our Bloom magazine. On the subject of handmade objects, she writes:
"in my travels i am finding more and more that people are searching for "meaning in handmaking"
and wanting to learn how to use their hands again
to have the satisfaction of creating an object for themselves
for myself, the return to constructing cloth through weaving
is a meditation
forming the cloth line by line
thread by thread
i work white or undyed
at the end
dye the hand woven cloth "path" with leaves
Magda di Siena is an architect, an interior stylist and an art consultant. Her work is focused on projecting and setting exhibitions, fair stands, paper advertisements. She met Rina Menardi in her studio in Italy and shares with us this delicate work.
Wearing a soft, bright blue dress, Rina Menardi moves confidently around the factory that bears her name. The large glass entrance to her workspace lets in a warm, inviting light. You quickly become aware of a positive energy, a kind of silent music languidly lurking in the background, among pots arranged in compositions suggestive of journeys and resting places. The upper floor is accessed by a winding staircase made of polished metal, designed by Rina and built by a local artisan. The staircase is a parenthesis. A short poem among other poems, almost a Haiku (like the wooden walkway over the reflecting pool that leads to the entrance) inviting you to proceed with caution, to linger, to slow down. The upper floor looks out onto an immense natural landscape. In order to work and immerse herself in the creative process, she says she needs "an upper level from where I can observe things."
Her creations are arranged here like characters in conversation. Their variety is extraordinary. Every work is different: a detail, a curve along an edge, a reflection, making each at once characteristic and unique. She has just managed to obtain a colour that expresses the power of the earth, and she is thrilled with it. Every pot tells a story, yet it is also the natural evolution of a thought. 'Project' is a poor word for these works, which go far beyond mere projects; the word 'thought' occurs often as she talks. Perhaps her work can be defined as a pure thought that sets out from a suggestion and returns as a form. Her relationship with her material is not one of domination but accompaniment. She speaks to the material and it speaks to her in a reciprocal act of giving as the work comes into being, then of separation into two individual entities that resemble each other at the end of the creative process. Only then has the object absorbed Rina Menardi's thought and intention, only then has the artist absorbed all the sensations that the material, through its transformation, has succeeded in passing back to her: strength/fragility, tactile/ethereal qualities, subtlety/richness of colour, fullness/sense of empty space. Her research is focussed on the balancing of contrasts.
These journeys between opposites, through the medium of her hands, have made Rina Menardi sensitive to every stimulus offered by natural forms. Her perceptual relationship with nature and a spiritual sphere, which she sees as of equal reality to its earthly double, is perfectly intelligible in her works through references to ancestral forms.
With the certainty of a person who knows her subject thoroughly, she declares, 'this is what the future really means: creating a relationship of respect towards everything that surrounds us, with what existed before us and what is to come.' She repeats this phrase, yet finds it inadequate. Words are limiting, she wants to express more than they can convey; and at this point she entrusts her message of simplicity to the forms and colours of her work, which are – she says - a natural extension of herself. The pots, the bowls, and the infinite forms expressed are described with their dimensions, but their uses are varied and not decided a priori.
Today her creations, shown by the best design galleries, can be found as often in private homes as in restaurants that combine exquisite cuisine with the most careful attention to aesthetics. This is a source of personal satisfaction to Rina, and she expresses a desire that her ceramics should be treated with care, 'a care' - she explains – 'that human beings should exercise in relation to the things they touch every day, which should be transferred, on a larger scale, to their relationship with the whole world.' She adds, 'If I can make people better through the tactile and visual sensations communicated by my work, I have achieved my goal. I believe firmly in the infinite positive power of beauty.'
Magda Di Siena
The last edition of Wallpaper - one of our favorite lifestyle magazine - is dedicated to a long term trend we believe in since many years: Handmade. Wallpaper's team had been doing an incredible work: they had been briefing great designers, craftsmen and manufacturers to produce unique furniture, fittings ... The "Handmade" issue is presenting the production of the designs delicacy exhibited this year's Salone del mobile.
One of the coolest things we saw in Milan was the video produced for Brioni House - a legendary Italian fashion house founded in 1945, specialized in the sale of luxury handmade men suits.This video was shown in a specially-designed outdoor cinema at Brioni HQ. It arises naturally from the marriage of Brioni's bespoke craftsmanship and Wallpaper's Handmade theme.
The film is realized by Lernert & Sander two Amsterdam-based artists creating commercials, documentaries and installations since 2007. Their aim is to produce works that bring down the barriers between contemporary art and commercial projects; their pieces are highly aesthetic and humorous. Enjoy!
once upon a time
When we were kids we all have dreamed that our favorite drawing could be a real cuddy toy or a 3D doll to cherish… Child’s Own Studio makes this dream come true, by celebrating children’s art and their imagination with handcrafted one-of-a-kind soft toys.
Wendy Tsao started her home-based craft business after having the simple idea of making a recognizable comfort toy for a 4 year-old boy based on his drawing.
Since then, she has custom made a few hundred soft toys, based on children’s drawings that was sent to her. Details and color choices are reproduced as closely as possible so that the stuffed toy that is sent back in the mail is immediately recognizable to the child who designed it.
Each toy is as unique as the child who drew it.
Nathalie Costes is a gifted person who creates magical handmade accessories, her new collection is a variation of poetic and sensitive collars and cuffs crocheted with cotton thread.
After managing a workshop pretty heavy to lacquer wooden beads, her previous collection was necklaces, she felt a need for lightness and to reconnect with the pleasure to work almost anywhere.
Trend Tablet caught up with Nathalie Costes for an exclusive interview. Join us in discovering what makes Nathalie tick and what to expect from her next creations!
Why did you choose to create collars?
Perhaps because I have a long neck and I always looked for a way to dress it up ! With the reappearance of "cols claudine" in many collections, I wanted to reappropriate this accessory in my own way.
How do you work?
I have a fairly obsessive way of working, with a tendency to focus my attention on one single product. Treat the simplicity and the obvious: ensure that when you see the finished article, you can say that it was obvious.
Is crochet a technic you already knew?
Thanks to my sister, I learned how to master it when I was ten years. It is a childish pleasure seeing a spool of thread take another form with just one single tool.
The pleasure to make and unmake in the simplest way and to hold your atelier in your bag ! These are the pleasures of the crochet !
What kind of materials do you like to use?
Cotton is very logical to me since it is ductile to all my whims. You just change working technique to make the material more stiff, starched, or more softer. It is a true friend and it loves both complicated points and smooth aspects. The collar in cotton also fits and looks great on every garment: a simple t-shirt, a silk dress, a masculine shirt, or a wool sweater. I do of course not exclude the use of other materials such as the alpaca, wool and more rustic, like the leather thong...
What can we expect in the future?
Today, this Peter Pan collar leads me to other paths, with the desire of concentrate my attention to specific parts of garments: collars, sleeves, cuffs, shoulders …
Maybe, one day I will pick parts more consistent with neck, shoulder, wrist ...
Of all the natural dyes that have coloured history, it is perhaps indigo which has the most resonating presence; its dark and deep blue has been much sort-after since ancient times and it enjoyed flourishing trade up until last century when synthetic dyes became preferable for industrial production. The continued success of denim blue bares witness to indigo’s most recent heritage, and the colour has been embraced by yarn and cloth weavers the world over from Japan to Martinique.
There are more than 200 known varieties of Indigofera, although only a dozen or so provide qualities that work best for textiles. First known from the Indus Valley from which the plant is named, indigo’s lush and green-leaved shrubs are present across South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, traded by the French, Dutch, English and Spanish, and transplanted along with the slave trade and colonial farming.
Known for their dermatological benefits, indigo-dyed fabrics are perfect to keep close to the skin, whether as garments, carpets or bedding. Once reputed as body-paint for warriors and even used by the Egyptians during mummification, indigo is a magical dye that can be considered a healer and a coloured talisman of sorts.
Indigo’s appeal was also discovered by eight special textile lovers following a research trip to the West African nation of Benin in 1993. Once they understood that local indigo was endangered by imported and synthetic competition, as well as a move away from local styles, a visionary non-for-profit association called Heartwear was initiated to support the survival of indigo crafts and promote their beauty around the globe; designing fashion and textile products in fine cotton and linen, true to their indigenous identity and enhanced along the way.
Having worked with numerous tie-dye and batik techniques, including favourites such as banana leaf and fish bone patterns, Heartwear’s yearly collections are sold each spring in pop-up venues completing a long craft chain that starts with those who knot the textiles, to those who dye the batches, to those who remove the knots, to those who wash, dry and press the fabrics, to those who sew them into garments. Honouring the humanity within humanitarianism and respecting the artisan within artisanal, Heartwear has continually sought to elevate this cottage industry to appeal to a refined contemporary taste for local products in increasingly global times.
Only turning blue when the dyed object is removed from the vat and oxidised by air, recipes are often closely-guarded secrets, although their basic formula remains the same: dried leaves fermented with a variety of other natural ingredients. The more times an object is dyed and dried, the darker the indigo colour becomes; with the famous Yoruba Blue achieved after seven saturating dips.
Today, indigo is experiencing a revival in fashion and interiors, as artisan techniques are incorporated into the serial. Our craving for natural colour and a more intense blue value reflects a need by consumers for authenticity and the handmade, feeling more connected to the textile’s long history of craft.
The denim and casualwear markets have rediscovered real indigo’s power and that clients are prepared to pay significantly higher prices in order to enjoy the soft wear in colour and fibre that only true indigo provides. And with bountiful techniques employed to beautify the surface, indigo’s charm is universal, set to continue in the decades to come.
Text by Philip Fimmano. Pictures by Yuriko Takagi for the latest issue of Revue Canopée. Special thanks to Françoise Lemarchand.
To purchase Heartwear's products: visit the exhibition-sale from may 3rd to 13th, 30 bd Saint Jacques 75014 Paris
le moine tricote
Le Moine Tricote is a new knitwear line from French designer Alice Lemoîne. After studying in Japan and starting out her carrier by creating knit designs for Rick Owens, Lemoîne launched her own line. The brand’s name—which means “the monk knits”—resonates with the designer, who prefers to work alone and spends countless hours, needles in hand, perfecting each design.
Lemoine’s unique creations—entirely handmade and available only in limited quantities—beautifully highlight and transform the female silhouette through a dense mesh of intricate threading. By creating her own brand she wanted to communicate her personal and cultural heritage: a strong tradition of French elegance confronted with the minimalism of contemporary art and architecture; now elements she seeks to merge in pieces with a conscious structure, allowing the garment to take its form three-dimensionally while remaining cool and natural.
Lemoine says: "My process is experimental and I oversee hand-knitted production to keep the soul of each unique creation." The collection includes shrunken jackets, tunic-length vests and charming cache-coeurs in blends of alpaca, mohair and bamboo. But don’t expect cashmere anytime soon. “I don’t need luxury materials,” she insists, “the luxury is in the design.” Text by Caroline Aufort
when design & craft meet
Design is a young discipline. A process engineered at the beginning of the industrial age that first and foremost developed function and derived beauty from it. Up until today, function was the trademark of industrial and serial design, reluctantly giving in to the emotional and the ephemeral. But man started to tire of function alone and evolved to decor, surface effects and inlay techniques, blending industry, art and design; a movement which is making a revival at this current time. Then came a moment of great innovation, aerodynamic design and streamlined form. What followed was a time of space-age shapes and science-fiction volumes: our fascination with form for form’s sake was born.
Function became remote and voice-controlled and morphed into virtuality, giving function an ungraspable quality. Thus arrived matter and the development of our fingertips as important consumer tools. Material development became a major focus of the art and design worlds, the concept of second skin was born, forecasting a future of genetic engineering and human cloning. The more virtual life became the more tactile we wished to become. Matter called for colour to make up its mind and express its mood, ultimately making colour the overruling reason to select an outstanding work of design.
When design had acquired a sense of function, decor, shape, matter and colour, the insatiable and by now global market, requested more. It needed a code, or a name, or a logo, or all of those, so it invented and perfected the brand: a passport to international shopping pleasure. With this last step, the world could sit back, relax and contemplate a century of learning, accumulating in a completed and perfected design process…
However, the demand for design had been explosive over the last decade, stretching our imaginations thin, and had engendered an insatiable appetite for new experiences which created a world full of stuff; a globe drowning in design, a situation ready to explode. Today, we experience a need for reflection and we feel a need to rethink the (non)sense of design.
The globalisation of the world as one market has brought about shopping boredom and uniformity with the alternative boutiques gradually disappearing in favour of chain stores, chain couture, chain food – and chain coffee houses. The idea that not only people in Paris, London and New York should live and consume the same, yet that the masses of Mumbai, Shanghai and Dubai will also do so seems stifling and impossible. Global marketing will eventually come to a standstill, making way for outsider brands and Sunday artist creations. The local will feed back to the global and will animate world brands to become passionately interactive and reactive. Introducing local colour and craft along the way.
To answer this growing global resistance to constant renewal and limitless expansion, humanity and integrity are requested for the years to come. It is time to empower goods with a new dimension; their own character, an invisible energy locked into the design process.
I believe that we will be able to make the object, concept, or service come alive to be our partner, pet or friend, and to relate to us on a direct and day-to-day level. Only when design will be empowered with emotion will we be able to create a new generation of things that will promote and sell themselves; they will have acquired an aura able to seduce even the most hardened consumers on their own terms. Only then will design have acquired soul.
Craft holds this promise: the turn of this century has witnessed a return to the arts and crafts movement in a step-by-step repetition of the last turning of the centuries. Haunted by similar fears and interested by a similar vision, designers and artists have once more taken on the handmade and the hand-finished with absolute fervour.
The growing influence of an all-encompassing digital fantasy world has triggered an enormous quest for the manual and the tactile, with our fingers deciding through feeling long before our eyes start judging form and volume, and with manually-powered production coming back to the fore. The realisation that we have to stop destroying our planet has made young designers adamant to produce ecologically and locally, thus creating less polluting proposals, reviving natural dyes and returning to timber, fur, hide, textile, ceramic and glass; original arts and crafts materials. In many cases the works come in limited numbers or on commission, and therefore minimise the damage done to the planet.
The crafted and handmade cottage industries currently flourishing in many countries are employing regionally and create a small yet reliable local economy. A movement we see blooming, bringing production back to our doorstep once again.
Collaborations between designers and craftspeople have opened up new dialogues across borders, often bridging language boundaries with the simplicity of visuals, colours and materials; contemporary designers such as Tord Boontje, Stephen Burks, Fernando & Humberto Campana, Natalie Chanin, Forma Fantasma, Front and Hella Jongerius (amongst many others) are helping to keep artisan techniques alive by designing small-run products that gain a lot of international attention. Taking advantage of the internet and supported by design-savvy distributors such as Afroart, Aid to Artisans, Artecnica, Editions in Craft, Heartwear, Mokeybiz and ZenZulu, developing communities have successfully been taught to be more self-sufficient and independent, maintaining their identities while telling their stories to the world market.
New computer technologies are also contributing to the craft revival with laser cutting, digital printing and robotics, recreating a space for fantasy and embellishment. With the promise of industrial technologies capable of making one-of-a-kind piece-by-piece productions, the reign of the artisan will be supreme since prototyping will have to be both unique and by hand.
Last but not least, this period provides a moment of reflection concerning our planet and its history of slavery and exploitation, and therefore the humanitarian aspect of production is becoming a key question of our times. Can we still accept the enslaving of young workers around the world, women and children included? How is it possible that we can produce a shirt cheaper than a croissant? Somebody must be suffering in this chain of making, selling, reselling and retailing; buying cheap merchandise will become a guilt-ridden activity and therefore will gradually disappear. The world is now focused on the history and identity of merchandise, labelling products as “designed by” as well as “made by”.
With a consumer ready to embrace the rare, the unravelled and the irregular in this quest for soul in a product, the arts and crafts movement is back at the forefront of fashion and design. The ritualistic qualities inherent to the making of the craft object or the symbolic quality in the concept of a human service will gradually become more important; in a quest for experience, consumers will want to embrace a spiritual dimension and select merchandise to appease this inner need. Some craft items will become new design collectibles within a matter of decades, and already we see the prices of some textiles, objects and artworks escalating to greater and never-before imagined heights…
Therefore the products of the future will be unique as well as universal. Using regional roots, local colour and universal references related to earth, animals, gardening and home. Living an unplugged yet wired lifestyle, considering rural romantic sources of inspiration, craft and design will merge to inspire a new more self-conscious and mature consumer to be. A consumer that becomes the curator of his or her own life. L.E.
On sunday march 18th, Lidewij Edelkoort will be in Dubai for a public seminar on “What Design can do for the Future?”
Lorraine Pennington is an artisanal jeweler based in Corona Del Mar, CA. Pennington’s designs are characterized by the interplay of texture and raw materials. No two pieces are exactly alike. Simple forms are accentuated by hand-forged and hand-textured metals; acrylics are molded, shaped and sanded. Her work also includes the hand-dyed dress shown below.
Emphasizing the importance of quality over quantity, Pennington’s craftsmanship imbues each design with a history and heritage not soon forgotten.
The work of Jongstra is created in a small village in the North-West of Friesland, Spannum, counting not even 300 inhabitants. A small church on a terp, a main street, several side streets – that is all there is. One small street could be called Claudy Jongstra street, having a house which is used as office and wool dyes-works, here living place, a wooden design studio and a shed for the production of the wall tapestries.“I have the feeling of being halfway my development as an artist”, Jongstra says. “We have arrived at a point which we have been working towards step-by-step”, Marleen Engbersen says. Jongstra and Engbersen intertwine the words connections continuously through their story. Jongstra: “My work is never an isolated thing. It connects to buildings which I design it for and intends to call up emotions in the persons in such buildings.
Next year I will work on a ballet performance together with dancers at an American university, Dartmouth in New Hampshire. With performing arts, architecture, - in all kinds of ways I look for connections.” A romantic artist lives for art and hopes to be able to live of it. Jongstra and Engbersen followed a different strategy. Their cooperation is a permanent search for a market. Who do they wish to work for? Where should the work finds its place? Engbersen: “We focus on educational institutions like schools and universities, on health care institutions, innovative companies and political buildings”.
Why? Jongstra: “I connect natural history and cultural history and this requires a permanent study. I want to learn from the persons I work with and work for. Reversely I hope that they also want to learn together with me. Then the strongest impact can be made in education, science, culture, healthcare and politics”.
No art pour l’art, no, but art with a mission. What mission? Jongstra talks about a summer class she has been given for several years on an estate in Umbria, Italy, in a Franciscan stern environment of bare rooms with a light-bulb hanging from the ceiling. With twenty persons from all over the worlds she works there: Americans, Argentinians, Japanese, musicians, physicians, psychiatrics, entrepreneurs.
“The entire week we are working with natural materials. With flowers we picked ourselves we dye wool and linen, in big pots on open fire of wood we gathered ourselves. During the week we really get to talk. People have lost a direct connection with nature and they miss social structures. They are astounded to see how culture is created from nature. They have busy lifes, great careers, but they feel a huge emptiness around them: caused by superficiality, of agitated consumption”.
So, let’s all go back to nature? Engbersen: “No! we are not a retro movement. The trick precisely is to create new things from old knowledge and craft. In architecture a fascinating school has come up, called ‘healing architecture’. Both natural and built environment have an impact on the behavior of mankind. We strive for inspiration and truthfulness in our work and get this across to people.”
Jongstra runs a company in Spannum with seven employees and about fifteen freelancers. They make felt from wool and spin the threads which Jongstra makes here art with. The material is colored with dye of the flowers grown by order of Jongstra. Bee colonies and beekeepers must ensure that the flowers are cross-fertilized.
Jongstra: “I experience the development of my work as a constant unwrapping of gifts. The past comprises an amazing amount of knowledge: botanical knowledge, craft knowledge. This opens a world for me behind the visible world. And I am convinced that this dive in the past also generates knowledge in its turn to develop sustainable production methods.”
Text by Gijsbert Van Es
Since its founding in 1932, Bennington College, Vermont, has been known as a progressive college intent on bringing an intensity and breadth to undergraduate education that comes from building deep connections between doing and knowing, thinking and acting, passion and reflection. The Center for the Advancement of Public Action – CAPA uses critical world issues to organize and generate curriculum, aiming at commitment to the essence of life and the world, challenging students to discover what it means and takes to live a good life as well as a successful one.
The new buildings designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will be home for liberal arts education, while expressing its new radical approach. Claudy Jongstra made the tapestries for the entrance hall.
In 2003 Ineke Aquarius,Emer Beamer and Hester Ezra founded Butterfly Works with the wish to contribute to greater equality in the world through co-design.
Butterfly Works is based in Amsterdam and works globally with a core team of 15 designers and organizers. They work in emerging economies because they believe in undiscovered potential. Through serious media, social branding and experiential learning they share knowledge, trigger creativity and build sustainable businesses.
Butterfly Works is right now working on an amazing project in the Sahara in the South of Morocco: Taragalte. In association with 3 partners: l'Association Zaila, Sahara Roots and Bureau East they co-designed a hand made product-line, a yearly festival and a tourist accommodation in bivouacs and ecolodge. All that contribute to the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of the region.
On November 11th, with the full moon, the celebration of the old Trade Caravan will be held in during a festival with music, dance, and poetry performances - in the spirit of the Great Caravans making their way through the desert. We hope you can join them!
elizabeth fonseca & gilberto paim
The modernity of Elizabeth Fonseca´s and Gilberto Paim´s ceramics is obvious. Simplicity, tactility and elegance of shapes are the essence of their four hands work. Elizabeth and Gilberto live and work together in Brasil.For you to get to know them better, we interviewed them for trendtablet:
What is your favorite material? Elizabeth: porcelain. Gilberto: porcelain. The color that moves you the most? Elizabeth: black. Gilberto: the blue of the sky. Your first gesture in the morning? Elizabeth: I kiss my cat. Gilberto: I prepare green tea.
The sound that carry you?Elizabeth: cello. Gilberto: the sound of a brook. Your favorite meal? Elizabeth: spaghetti with eggplants, mozzarella di buffala and home made tomato sauce. Gilberto: stuffed pumpkin with shrimps and catupiry (brazilian cheese). At what moment of the day do you feel great? Elizabeth: after a shower. Gilberto: at the end of the afternoon, after a walk.
Barbara Keal hand makes felted hats and costumes inspired by animals both real and imaginary, relishing the joy they give to all who wear them. Since Origin London 2010 Barbara's dream for hats to change the world has become real. An important aspect of her work is the transformative effect the hats have on the wearer who usually ends up with a massive grin on their face and a jaunty spring in their step.
Barbara lives and works in Lewes, East Sussex in the UK. Lewes is a picturesque county town known for it's eccentric and welcoming attitude which is located in the South Downs national park.
Welcome to her world bustling with creatures: foxes, badgers, enormous hares, expressive rams and the odd minotaur, not to mention all the beasts you can't name...
Nelson is a magical person, the kind of people you rarely meet during one's life.It's like he has already lived several lives. For quiet a long time, he was the Art Director of the magazine Bloom. He has been imagining beautiful photos, choosing carefully the subject, the flowers, the objects, taking care with his team of every little thing and giving us a lot of emotion. Passionate, enthusiastic, generous and full of positive energy that is how he can be described. Since several years Nelson fall in love with craft. He had been traveling in Asia, in Morocco, in Egypt, in Tunisia to look for "artisans".
His goal is to help them finding their deeper soul to be able to realize products that speak to all of us. Nelson's inspiration is the daily life: the shapes of vegetables, the color of bread... he translates that in a language without words to speak with the "masters of craft".
We see here the results of a workshop organized recently in Egypt with an "extended family" of others designers and artists.
an interview by cecile poignant
Born in Florence, Stefano Panconesi is graduated in Economy with a thesis on the marketing of dye plants. Following his father's footsteps, he's always been passionately interested in natural dyeing, For over twenty years he has been active in promoting the industrial use of natural dyeing as well as biological textiles and teaching courses for various organizations. With Sissi Castellano, Milanese-born architect, he founded Casa Clementina an association whose aim is to rediscover and preserve textile traditions both in Italy and abroad. Casa Clementina is located in Pettinengo, a village near Biella, in Piedmont, Italy. The seat of the Association is an old villa which used to belong to Clementina Corte (1850-1935), photographer and director of amateur theatricals. After decades of being uninhabited, the villa recently underwent a careful and sympathetic restoration which preserved most of its original character, including frescoed ceilings and large areas of the original wallpaper.
Casa Clementina, which launched its courses in March 2011, welcomes weaving teachers, natural dye experts and teachers of natural dyeing, textile researchers and artists, as well as anyone interested in discovering new traditions and sharing experiences in traditional crafts.Courses are held monthly, and Casa Clementina’s charming rooms can provide accommodation. Meals are shared in the spacious veranda, or in the garden in fine weather.
In 1993, with a group of stylist friends, Lidewij Edelkoort created Heartwear, a non-profit association that helps to sustain handcraft knowledge and thus collaborates with artisans to tailor their products for worldwide export, without compromising the skill, knowledge, culture and environment of the region involved. Design talent is coupled with marketing insight. Trend forecasting skills are balanced with historical and cultural knowledge. Among its many projects, Heartwear has developed indigo textiles for home and fashion with artisans in Benin, ceramics with potters in Morocco, and khadi cotton in India.
Active members are :Lidewij Edelkoort, Karen Petrossian, Yves Venot, Daniel Cendron, Corinne Delemazure, Sophie Carlier, Gert van de Keuken, Lucien Aquilon, Donald Namekong, Sergio Machado.
Heartwear was at Merci' s shop in Paris for a beautiful installation called "UNIVERSAL BLUE"