The stories behind what we make.
Over a five year journey of the Indo-Pacific, we explore beautiful and thoughtful objects. What do these objects tell us about our world today? We see a striking revival of ancient traditions that re-orients us to the future.
Hamza El Fasiki ✿ Lockdown reveals the enduring crafts of Morocco
Hamza El Fasiki is a geometer, brass smith, bookbinder, Andalusian Oud musician, and founder of a Morocco arts studio. He offers an important perspective as a young person who has embraced the world of Moroccan traditional crafts. This gives him particular insight into the differences between modern and traditional worlds.
Read more here.
Kaamya Sharma ✿ A salutary lesson for us craft snobs
Kaamya Sharma is an academic who has recently turned knowledge worker for the crafts. We speak to her at home in Madurai, after leaving a secure position at the Institute of Technology, Jodhpur, and embracing an independent practice building technologies for artisans.
Kaamya is a talented writer and deep thinker who is able to see both sides of the story. We dwell on her research into the value of saris in Chennai, which features the concept of "sartorial bio-moralism". She questions the hierarchy that positions handwoven and natural-dyed over machine-made and chemical dyed. For Kaamya, this is often an expression of class value designed to differentiate upper classes from those in lower castes and menial livelihoods.
Her questioning poses a challenge. How can we sustain the value of the handmade without subscribing to the kind of snobbery that looks down on those who choose machine-made alternatives, often for utilitarian and sometimes even aesthetic reasons? Much to think about.
Malika Verma on the Śilpa series
We talk to Malika Verma about the origins of Border&Fall and the values that underpin the Śilpa series profiling Indian artisans. See Kanta Kadse ✿ Khajur ki pattiyo
Anna Battista, the woman behind Irenebrination
In our series of interviews with key figures of the craft world, we talk to Anna Battista, an Italian writer whose Irenebrination has published nearly 3,000 stories of the world through an intelligent fashion lens. We learn what sustains such as committed independent voice.
Anna Battista is a writer, freelance journalist and independent scholar. Her articles about art, architecture, culture, fashion, lifestyle, politics and social issues have been featured in American, British, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish publications. Among the publications she has contributed and collaborated with there are Dazed Digital, Port Magazine, The Guardian, Vogue Russia, Vogue Italia and Interview Magazine Russia. She has lectured for many institutions including the Museum of Photography in Moscow and the AA Visiting School Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Anna’s architecture, art, fashion and film notes are collected on her site, Irenebrination, inspired by iconic Italian journalist and fashion and art critic Irene Brin and conceived as a reaction against commercial fashion publications.
Jay Thakkar ✿ The fourth wave in craft education
Our first podcast of 2021 features one of the most innovative forces in Indian craft, reflecting Ahmedabad’s status as a unique cultural centre.
We speak to Jay Thakkar on the eve of the legendary kite festival in Ahmedabad, and we begin by learning what the city is like during this spectacular event and how COVID has affected the themes of kite design. We discuss his ambitious project on vernacular furniture, which was told previously in our story by Mitraja Bais. We also hear about the five-year-long exchange with a Kutch village Guniyali which culminated recently in the launch of a virtual exhibition with the support of the British Council.
Jay shares with us his thoughts on craft education in India and proposes a “fourth wave” in which designers seek learning from the villagers themselves in location. Finally, we learn some of the deeper values that underpin is work, and a saying of his father’s that money is like wheat. Listen and learn why this is so.
Jay Thakkar is an Associate Professor, Head of Exhibition at CEPT University and Co-founder and Executive Director at Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC) at CRDF, Ahmedabad, India. You visit the virtual exhibition Celebrating Gundiyali here.
Laila Al Hamad ✿ The craft of smell
Kuwaiti designer Laila Al Hamad speaks about the meaning of smell in Arab cultures and how it connects people together.
One of the enduring themes of our journey is the meaning of ephemeral objects. We tend to see value in objects of lasting worth - as artefacts that survive millennia to rest in our museum shelves, or works that can be collected for their artistic value. But when we look at the kinds of objects that have meaning in the wider world, they are often of fleeting presence. We can look no further than the garland itself, as an object woven together with flowers that will last only a couple of days. What worth can that be? Here we need to consider other cultural contexts, like the value of offerings.
In this podcast, we look at perhaps the most ephemeral substance - smell. What is the possible worth of objects related to smell, such as incense, perfume or soap? We explore this Laila Al-Hamad, a Kuwaiti designer who has previously shared her story on Garland about the fraught nature of craft in the Gulf.
Poetry and images referred to by Laila can be found here.