Safari Living Blog
I have been a great admirer of Georgia’s extraordinary silk textile work from the beginnings of her original label, Vixen.
So, I was delighted when Georgia returned to design, after a few years off to spend time with her family, creating her new eponymous collection. Still, with the same design aesthetic and emphasis on quality, Georgia is adding more one-of-a-kind pieces and limited edition collections.
It has been such a pleasure to be able to present her artful silks at Safari over the last couple of years. Starting with a paisley wrap and co-ordinating cushions, Georgia’s latest designs include a selection of exquisitely crafted, one-of-a-kind, silk patchwork kimonos. These use designs drawn from her vast Vixen archives, combined with more recent influences.
Georgias Pillow Cases are 100% silk and epitomise the essence of her original label Vixen.
In addition to the kimonos, there are the most luxurious silk pillow cases you could ever imagine. Available in a selection of prints, these are produced with great care in small batches.
The luxury aspect is, of course, very appealing, but did you know of the amazing benefits for your skin and hair? The natural fibre of silk is hypoallergenic and moisture wicking, the smooth texture eliminates friction, leaving your skin and hair smooth, silk is naturally temperature regulating, so perfect in all seasons.
Silk pillow cases do wonders for your skin and hair, no effort required, all while you sleep!
You can explore and purchase Georgia’s silk pillow cases here. As the patchwork kimonos are all unique you will, at this stage, have to visit the showroom or call us on 03 95104500 to request images of our current stock so that you can purchase by phone.
Georgia also continues to produce beautiful fashion pieces which you can purchase on her website.
Here we share an edited version of an inspiring interview with Angela Missoni - Interviewed by Alain Elkann, Angela discusses motherhood, the Missoni family, her journey within the company and the evolution of the brand within the digital age.
THE FAMILY OF FASHION. Angela Missoni is the creative director and president of Missoni, her family’s beloved knitwear brand, which has been popular since her parents started creating their psychedelic patterns and multi-coloured zigzag knitwear. Angela Missoni lives in a beautiful house in Brunello, in front of Lago di Varese, very near by her company HQ, and all the Missoni family live around there.
Were you raised in this beautiful place?
We moved here from Gallarate when I was 13. At the end of the sixties my parents decided to build their own factory in a place where they loved to spend their weekends. First they built the factory, and then in 1972 we moved into the house, at a walking distance to the factory. We all have this addiction to the view of the Monte Rosa that we can see from the factory, from the office at the HQ, from my parents’ house, from my previous house where I raised my kids; and both my daughters, Margherita and Teresa, have the same view from their houses.
For a few years did you only want to be a mother?
I had to have children, this was my priority, so at 28 I had three kids. I had started working for the company aged 18 to raise some pocket money, and then little by little assisted my mum in the atelier, but my priority was maternity. When I was pregnant with Teresa I went to my dad and said this can never be my job, but my dad said you can consider this company like a big umbrella and you don’t have to work with your mum every single day.
I had to do things on my own to get my self-esteem, and 3 or 4 years after I realised I wanted to express myself in fashion I asked if I could do my own Angela Missoni knitwear collection, which was totally solid for the first couple of seasons. Then my mother said, why don’t you do the main collection? You have to do fashion when you are young and have the strength to fight for your own ideas.
So I started building my team and after four seasons like that, twenty two years ago, I came out on the catwalk on my own and from that moment I was appointed creative director of the company; and I still am. It is the job of designer moved to the name of creative director, because you don’t only have to know how to present the collection but you have to do all the image work that goes with it.
How much has the business changed since the time of your parents, Ottavio and Rosita, who started Missoni in 1953?
The business has dramatically changed, and it was my parents who decided not to show any longer in Florence at the Pitti Palace. Everyone was landing at Malpense and passing by here, so they started Milan Fashion Week.
Was this before Armani?
Way before. This was 1974, when Armani was working for other people; and Dolce and Gabbana came much later. We are the only fashion brand with three generations of the same family handling both the business and the creative side of the company.
Is Missoni a womenswear company?
Menswear has always been relevant with my father, but fashion is in the hands of women. The Missoni men are more involved in business. My brother Luca is very creative too, and he takes care of the Missoni archives and all the exhibitions.
Jennifer Missoni, Angela Missoni, Ottavio Missoni, Margherita Maccapani Missoni, Marco Missoni, Rosita Missoni, Teresa Maccapani Missoni, Luca Missoni, Giacommo Missoni and Francesco Maccapani Missoni attend the Missoni Art Colour preview in partnership with Woolmark at The Fashion and Textile Museum on May 4, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
“We are the only fashion brand with three generations of the same family handling both the business and the creative side of the company.”
What has changed over the years?
When I took over, the company was already 40 years old. I always felt that I was fixing things, and still today I am fixing things, and especially in the past 20 years, when after every five years you realise that your company is an old company. My parents were famous for inventing a style in fashion based on knitwear and colours, and the way you put colours together, and Missoni still works mainly on clothing, not accessories, which is a rarity today.
Why is Missoni like this?
My father considered himself an artisan and never wanted to grow the company. The more you grow, the more problems you have. My mum was from a creative family of industrialists and was not an industrialist herself, but she was always a builder, and I feel that way too, one brick on top of the other. In the seventies my dad told her, Rosita I don’t understand, why do you want to work more? OK, we will gain more money, but we will never have the time to spend it! My father didn’t want to have more responsibility when he had enough to have a good life.
How many people work for Missoni?
Today we have 300 people working directly, and then many laboratories that work exclusively for us from outside. We give work to maybe 800 or 1000 people.
Now you are the Chairman. What do you want to achieve?
I want Missoni to survive, to grow, and to be relevant in the future. I was always looking to what we needed to do in the future for the third generation. We have to expand the market and invest with a financial partner, and I think we found the right one with Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI), which has an international background, and the purpose of this FSI fund is to help Italian excellence to grow.
Missoni Spring Collection Estate 2019
Is the Made in Italy brand still very strong?
Yes, it is still something that is world renowned for the quality of production of garments, of knitwear, of leathers. It’s still number one, and high end products are made in Italy for French and US brands.
How do you want to grow?
In organisation, and we need competent people and we have projects to expand. Our second line, M Missoni, which my daughter Margherita created and is in charge of, used to be a licence, and then we decided to take it back home and invest in it. Also we have to invest in accessories, and to expand our men’s line. Also we will open more shops around the world.
“I am always looking forward, I never look back, so Missoni is never vintage in the collection we present.”
How many shops do you have?
We have 30, 50% directly from the company and 50% in franchisee. We have never approached the most important, and more and more relevant, Chinese market. We opened a new store in New York last Autumn, and will be in Singapore by the end of the year. Bangkok has just opened, Hong Kong will open soon, and we have two stores in Miami, one for Missoni, one for M. Then we will expand the MissoniHome line, which is still under the creative direction of Rosita, my mother.
What is Angela’s fashion today?
I have always had a very strong link to my roots, so what I have done is to evolve Missoni in a contemporary way. I know the archives by heart because I have an amazing memory and I was a detail observer from an early age. From five years old I remember the shoes, the hairstyle, the image, the people, everything. I never do research in the archive, I always work with new mood boards, and at that point I make links with the past of Missoni. I am always looking forward, I never look back, so Missoni is never vintage in the collection we present.
Is Missoni very different from other brands?
If you think of Gucci today in terms of fashion you think of Tom Ford for Gucci. Now Alessandro Michele is there. But Gucci was accessories in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and so basically a designer with a strong vision can bring it 100%. In 20 years another designer will be there, and Gucci will become something else. But Missoni has always been Missoni.
Home Sweet Home – installation curated by Angela Missoni, Solferino, Milan, 2019
How do you change?
With your vision and what you feel. The silhouette and the colour are never the same.
What do people appreciate in Missoni?
People have affection for the fact of this strong heritage. Missoni becomes part of your wardrobe.
“I am helped by the Missoni third generation and the way they see the world and communicate.”
Are you very expensive?
We don’t have couture, but our prêt-à-porter is expensive. M Missoni is less expensive, but still an expensive line. Missoni is a trans-generational brand, it’s a question of sensibility and personality and this does not age. I see the three generations coming to my shops, and my mother at 87 is so cool and so fresh, you realise fashion has no age. But of course you need to communicate with the younger generation of today.
How do you communicate with the young generation in the age of the internet?
There is the internet and then there are the very loud voices from the big companies, which have presence all over and invest a lot in communications. How do we make our voice heard? In digital, if you have something to say and know the right language, you have the chance to be heard. I am 60 today, and I hope to still have the eye and the ear to be able to catch up, but I am helped by the Missoni third generation and the way they see the world and communicate. But Margherita is 36 already, and sometimes I tease her and say, are you sure you are keeping up? You are a late millennial! In the team we bring in young voices and young eyes.
Do large organisations want to buy you?
The family love this project, and it has kept the family together. It’s a company that has many facets so there is the opportunity for interesting and passionate jobs for future generations. It’s good to keep it together.
Is family very important for you?
Yes, but not only blood family. Family is something even more expanded, friends, and people who are working with me. Tribe is more important than family. At a Missoni party there are three generations, but not only the family, it has always been very inclusive. One of the more relevant gifts my parents gave to the family was to build this factory here, and for us to live here. We are so fortunate to have beautiful amazing creative jobs in this wonderful place.
Where are you stronger?
Last year we did some market research that gave amazing results which we didn’t expect. Missoni is well known by 75% of high end buyers for luxury in the States, in the Far East, in Europe, in Japan. We are recognised, surprisingly, because we are a small company and our product is rare to find.
Do you travel very much?
I do travel a lot for business, and I also like to travel in Italy when I have free time, for pleasure.
The panoramic view from Angela Missoni’s home
You have 30 stores, but aren’t people now buying by internet?
Yes, of course. Digital online increases ever year, and the Missoni online store is very important and relevant, but today there is this multi-channel approach where the store becomes an experience to the brand, so how you develop the store is very important. Online buying is quick, and you do not have the opportunity to go deep into the history of the product, but stores will still be relevant in the future, as an experience.
Do you have a specific colour that you like?
Personally I love greens and I love turquoise. In the Missoni clothes I will sometimes add these in, but mainly in my personal wardrobe.
Is the evening dress still the dream of every woman?
Yes, but the most important thing about any dress is that you have feel very comfortable and at ease when you wear it, because the most unsensual and unappealing thing is a woman who pulls at her dress every couple of minutes. You have to feel 100% comfortable and at ease.
Is there something you want to say?
Life is very short, so try to enhance any moment of your day. Try to get the best out of it. And remember that you can change your point of view, your perspective on things, without losing your integrity. Always be open to changing your mind.
This interview was first published at alainelkanninterviews.com on April 21, 2019.
Safari Living is a proud stockist of Missoni Home and agent for the Missoni Home Fabric Collection. View the collections in the showroom and online at Safari Living.
One of the best things about cultures other than our own, are the multitudes of legends and traditions which differentiate themselves from the culture that we’re familiar with. By experiencing the uniqueness of other cultures, we see our own in a new light, providing us with a perspective otherwise impossible to achieve. Chinese New Year presents an opportunity to show curiosity about this long lived and established tradition that’s shared amongst both Chinese and increasingly, non-Chinese alike.
Where else to start than at the beginning? Chinese New Year originates from the myth of ‘Year’ (“Nian” in Chinese) a monster who was fabled to terrorize villagers by eating their crops and frightening them with his grisly appearance on the night of every New Years Eve. The villagers discovered that ‘Year’ was afraid of the colour red, fire and loud sounds, hence the proliferation of red decorations and fire crackers which are synonymous to the festival.
The family unit is the most important aspect of Chinese New Year and it’s expected that all members of the immediate family make their way home to celebrate no matter what their circumstances are. ‘Red Packets’ – which are small red envelopes with money inside, are gifted to younger members of the family to start the new year with wealth and luck. A similar tradition offered to elders by the younger generation is also common.
Food is a bonding experience for many cultures and China is no exception to this. Special foods are eaten during Chinese New Year such as steamed fish, Hot Pot and Dumplings which symbolise wealth and prosperity. The making of Dumplings is especially important for the Northern Chinese, where members of the family get together to laugh, banter and catch up over a much-loved ritual.
Red is an unmissable part of Chinese New Year. Seeped in meaning and symbolism for Chinese people, it’s a colour that represents joy, celebration and success and so it appears not only during Chinese New Year, but also wedding celebrations, inaugural ceremonies and the sealing off of official documents.
Learn more about Chinese culture and history at The Chinese Museum and What's On in Melbourne
The new year presents an opportune time to take a closer look around us, both literally and figuratively, for that next exciting discovery. A short no. 6 tram ride away from the hustle and bustle of High Street Armadale, is what we affectionately call our small but curated precinct, “Little High Street”. A space that we share with some very special businesses including Loom, James Vivian Dermal Therapies, Teaspoon, Sum of Us, Robinson Man and Club Social amongst others. Whereas busier precincts prioritize numbers, at Little High Street what counts more is the one to one, personalised approach to both service and product.
Starting with James Vivian Dermal Therapies -- “Clients visit us for treatment, then go across the road for a browse at Safari Living and then a coffee and a snack at Teaspoon. People enjoy this ritual, they put the time aside to do so” says James. Arguably the most trusted dermal therapist in Melbourne, James began his career after a short stint at Aesop. His three words to describe Little High Street? “Unique, welcoming and bespoke”.
When asked about what makes the area different, former Sydneysider, Tina from Robinson Man (carefully curated menswear) says, “It’s the really specific niche products”. High Street’s past reputation as an international destination for antique hunters doubles its credibility as the go-to place for that special, can’t find it anywhere else item. “In Sydney, you find a lot of more established brands. But here, there’s space for something different”.
Alongside Robinson Man, you will find Sum of Us studio. With its serene and calming interior designed by GOLDEN, the award winning firm has truly instilled a sense of serenity and calm with its design vision. Having spent a stretch of time in the physio world, but finding the industry overly clinical, Marney from Sum of Us provides Yoga, Pilates and Physio services aimed at promoting overall positivity with a holistic touch.
Wellness from within reigns supreme. Since opening the business on High Street, Marney has noticed that the owners of the stores are very involved and everyone helps each other out. “The area is community minded, creative and passionate”.
Image by Sharyn Cairns, Design by GOLDEN
Our next door neighbour, Loom specialises in making and sourcing the most beautiful rugs. "I fell into the rug business due to my family connections in Turkey and worldwide. I was always fascinated with the rug making process as my family was weaving the rugs in a nomadic setting. Since then it has been my passion to grow the business". He reiterates the community spirit of Little High Street -- "The scale of the suburb means that it is easy to make strong connections with neighbours and members of the community. We are lucky to be located amongst such a close-knit group".
Just a stone’s throw away is Teaspoon, the little sister to Spoonful. Here, expect to find shelves amply stocked with fine pantry necessities. Not to mention their excellent coffee. Or if a lunch plate is what you’re after, Club Social (right next door to Loom ) does an excellent Okonomiyaki pancake amongst other delicious choices.
Little High Street, make a ritual of it. Come visit.
Following their 25th anniversary last year, we invited Harriet Wallace-Jones of renowned British textile studio Wallace Sewell to chat with Manuela Millan of Meanwhile in Melbourne about their work, tradition and the future of textiles.
Britain has always been a pioneer and world leader in textile design and manufacture. Wallace Sewell continues this proud tradition of top-quality and design-driven textiles, while bringing it into the modern age. Their ability to fuse modern technology with traditional textile design processes has enabled them to create a distinctive and vibrant range of products which can now be found in top galleries and boutique retailers in over 20 countries.
Wallace Sewell is known for keeping their design and manufacturing local, with all their products designed from their London and Dorset studios and made in a family-run textile mill in Lancashire.
We always said that we would design on hand looms to sample our ideas but the actual production would then be done on a power loom. If we were weaving it all ourselves then we wouldn’t be able to fulfil the orders from shops and galleries.
It is clear from their work that they have a real respect for their craft and the materials that they use. There is an authenticity and passion which shines through each of their beautiful pieces and each one has its own way of making you feel comfortable, cosy and happy. Wallace Sewell’s style incorporates bold colours and striking geometric patterns to achieve an iconic British design which have been recognised worldwide.
In the past, our style has been described as ‘classically British with a twist’ but I think it’s actually very European. We love the fact that everything is designed and manufactured in the UK, however I think we see ourselves as being part of a more European movement of contemporary designer makers particularly as we’re very influenced by the Bauhaus and that period of Art and design in Europe.
As graduates of Textile Design from the Royal College of Art in London, Emma and Harriet made their start after winning a grant from the British Crafts Council which allowed them to purchase their first handloom and design their first collection. Their big break came soon after when they caught the attention of the American department store Barney’s which put in an order for a scarf collection, a relationship which has endured to this day. Their work is routinely exhibited in top galleries such the Tate Museum and MOMA, which often commission them to design and create scarves inspired by key artworks to be featured in their upcoming exhibitions.
Their work is also seen and experienced by millions of people across London everyday thanks to their winning entry in the 2007 competition to design new train seat covers for the London Overground. Their work proved so popular that they were then commissioned to create custom fabric for a number of other train lines across the London train network.
Emma Sewell and Harriet Wallace-Jones
Wallace Sewell work across their two studios, with Harriet Wallace-Jones working from Dorset and Emma Sewell and the rest of the team working out of London. This setup clearly works for the design team, allowing them to work independently but also come together at regular intervals to brainstorm and make the important decisions.
Having three of us on the design team is brilliant as we all have a different perspective when discussing ideas. I live in the country and we really enjoy combining our rural and urban aesthetics.
Harriet and Emma’s design process combines thoughtful research and contemplation with a hands-on practical approach to prototyping and developing their designs. They draw inspiration from art, contemporary design and the world around them and then use their expertise with the handloom and knowledge of fabrics and materials to create their signature patterns.
We’re often looking at a specific painting and we’ll analyse the proportion of each colour. We’ll then create a yarn winding by taking a strip of card approximately 3-4 inches wide and we’ll wrap coloured yarn around the card to the proportions we wish the stripe to be.
When you’re at college, you have so much more time to do primary research such as collage and drawing which you then develop into weaves. Once you have your own business, 90% of your time is taken up with admin and only 10% design time. Emma and I have found that as our team has grown and our tasks are fewer, we’ve much more time for design and we can do more painting and drawing research as we used to do which is lovely.
After an incredibly successful 25 years, and having built their studio from two graduates working with single hand-loom to their current status as a globally recognised and sought-after design studio, Harriet and Emma are excited for the future and the opportunities that they will be able to explore.
I’d really like to do some colour consultancy and continue to explore other collaborations. To work not just in weaving but design in a broader sense would be very interesting. For example, it might be applying our ideas onto ceramics or wall coverings. A few years ago we successfully launched our first collection of carpets and last year we introduced a range of printed silk scarves to be shown along side our woven collection, so we’re branching out into new products which is exciting and challenging.
Gwynne Block Throw
Safari Living currently presents a selection of textiles from Wallace Sewell. To view the collection click here.
Words: Manuela Millan of Meanwhile in Melbourne
Visit Wallace Sewell here
Photos courtesy of: The Guardian/Photographer: Suki Dhanda (of Harriet Wallace-Jones), Wallace Sewell and Safari Living
Laney Harman joined the Safari team last year as an intern working in our graphics department. She very quickly became a very valued and integral part of the team. After a super busy Christmas, Laney headed to Vietnam and Cambodia for a well-deserved break. She returned with a collection of wonderful stories and images-some of which she is sharing with us here...
Images of bikes piled impossibly high with all manner of livestock and miscellaneous goods are nothing new, but I couldn't resist photographing this bright bicycle of blooms.
Although overrun by tourists, it's still possible to capture moments of relative solitude in Ha Long Bay.
A local row-boat woman casting off from the pier in Hoi An, whilst in the background others wait patiently for the evening crowds to flock for a romantic river cruise surrounded by floating lanterns.
With the farmers out working in the rice fields during the day, the animals are often left to rule the roost.
Sometimes described as an inland Ha Long Bay, Trang An in Ninh Binh Province is best explored by rowboat, where the river winds through limestone caves and under thick tree canopies.
Much of Vietnam seems to be a contradiction of many people rushing and many waiting. Vietnam seems to be a contrast between many people rushing and many people waiting.
Those keen enough to brave the 4.30am wake-up for sunrise at Angkor Wat are rewarded with scenes like this; ancient stone pillars casting long shadows between beams of morning light.
A slightly less beaten track through Angkor forest.
Tender moments spent making a new friend at Angkor Wat. I thought he was unwell as he rolled onto his side, but it turns out he just wanted a pat. Photo: Dan Waterman
Photos courtesy of: Laney Harman
See more about Laney at laneyharman.squarespace.com
Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi of Dyad Artisans
We invited Manuela Millan of Meanwhile In Melbourne to meet with Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi of Dyad Artisans to talk about their current homeware collection and everything they’ve achieved in the short time since their launch earlier this year.
Dyad Artisans is a Melbourne-based company which specialises in purveying and commissioning contemporary and traditional Iranian designs for the Australian market. What makes Dyad Artisans special is their focus on collaborating with local Iranian designers and artisans to produce works uniquely suited to the Australian design palette while retaining their Iranian design heritage.
This concept of conversation and collaboration goes to the heart of Dyad Artisans and can be seen in the design history and quality of each of their pieces.
[PZ] One of the main goals of Dyad Artisans is to change the overly political narrative about Iran in Australia today and create a cultural narrative in which direct people to people contact overrides current political tides creating a personal relationship between the Australian consumer and Iranian maker by placing a piece of their unique art in the Australian home.
[MS] Dyad means the relationship between two elements or two people. For example Pouria and I, Iran and Australia, artist and designer, traditional and contemporary.
Their story began when Missy and Pouria travelled to Iran together after meeting at an Iranian film festival in Melbourne. Missy had been keen to return to Iran after travelling there three years ago, and Pouria was more than happy to have an excuse to travel back to visit his family. While in Iran they had the idea of bringing some of the local Iranian art and design to Australia as they wanted to share the rich culture with an Australian audience. In particular they wanted to highlight some of the unique and less well known Iranian designers and introduce a new aspect of Iranian design to Australia.
[MS] Instead of bringing what everyone expects to see in Iranian arts, crafts and design, we wanted to work and collaborate with artists to show the unexpected side and to give a different view of Iran from what people are used to seeing through the current media.
Getting the balance right between retaining and featuring the traditional Iranian design styles and processes while trying to keep it fresh and contemporary was a challenge which Dyad Artisans has succeeded in meeting. Their curated eye has enabled them to find and select a cohesive modern homeware collection which would suit and enhance any design-conscious home while retaining the essence of what makes Iranian design special.
This meeting of worlds requires seeking out artisans who may be willing to alter or expand their existing collections and techniques, which is not always a simple task.
[MS] It was about looking beneath the works and meeting the artists and seeing how much flexibility they have and if they were willing to do something a little bit different, maybe a little bit paired-back or a whole new direction.
[PZ] You have to look for the people who are willing to take a risk. On one hand you have craftspeople who have had this master/apprentice relationship for hundreds or thousands of years, and you also have a separate group of contemporary artists and each one could be quite resistant to change for their own reasons.
Retaining and rejuvenating endangered techniques and traditions which have survived for thousands of years but are under threat today by force of mass consumerism and production is an important aspect of Dyad Artisans’ ethos and they have tried to ensure that their business is both sustainable and fair so that the relationship with the makers can last for many years ahead.
[MS] We want to be building long-term relationships with artists, so it’s important that we do that sustainably and that we respect the work that they’re doing.
[PZ] It is important for us to keep ancient traditions of craft alive, if we have an elderly master metal worker commissioned by us, we want him not only to be able to continue the work long term, but also to be financially stable enough to hire an apprentice that can learn and progress this ancient tradition.
Equally important is creating a connection between the artist and end-user and ensuring that the story of the artist can be heard and shared. This connection and history gives extra meaning to the products, and allows you to have a deeper connection with the items you bring home.
[MS] It’s really important to us that people can be proud of buying something which has been hand-made by an artist in Iran, and that they can feel that there’s a connection there. We love the idea that our community (which includes those who love culture in its many forms), can share their stories via our website and through the fun and creative events we have planned for the future.
We can't wait to see the next collection and the upcoming collaboration between Melbournian and Iranian artists. It has been a pleasure to meet the minds behind Dyad Artisans and we can't wait to form a dyad of our own with these beautiful homewares.
Safari Living currently presents a selection of textiles and brass trays from Dyad Artisans.
Words: Manuela Millan
Photos courtesy of: Meanwhile in Melbourne and M.Saleeba/P.Zoughi
International Guest: Alvaro Catalan de Ocón of PET Lamp
WORDS: MANUELA MILLAN
PHOTOS: PET LAMP
Alvaro Catalan De Ocón has spent the past 6 years travelling to remote communities around the globe to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in a unique way.
PET Lamp works with local artisans to create award-winning and unique lighting designs from discarded plastic bottles. The artistry of the local weavers transforms the plastic bottles from damaging waste into vibrant pendant lamps which are reflective of the traditions of the community and individuals who created them.
“The issue of plastic bottles is a global problem and we approach the problem through another global reality which is basket making, which has existed since the very beginning.”
— ALVARO CATALAN DE OCÓN
PET bottles can have a second life. There are other ways to accomplish this, but we intended to fuse one of the most produced industrial objects with one of the traditional crafts most rooted to the earth.
The bottles changed from being containers for liquids into being ceiling lamps. We took advantage of the bottle top to join the electrical components to the lamp shade, the neck as the structure and the body of the bottle as a surface on which to weave. The principle of weaving is reinterpreted and the surface of the bottle is converted into the warp through which the artisan weaves the weft.
The PET Lamp story begins in 2012 when Alvaro was invited to be involved in a project to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in Colombia’s waterways. With a background in product and industrial design Alvaro wanted to find a way to repurpose and upcycle used bottles in a way which would extend their usable life. PET Lamp’s ingenious solution involves treating the used bottles as a support structure on which to create woven designs, and then working with artisan weavers from affected communities to create stunning lampshades which are then retailed worldwide to bring much needed income to the community while raising awareness of the ecological impact of our overreliance on plastic.
After their Colombian experiment gained traction and became economically self-sustaining they realised the potential to take PET Lamp worldwide, as basket making and plastic pollution are present in every human culture. PET Lamp has since travelled and collaborated with artisans from Chile, Ethiopia, Japan and most recently Australia. The beauty of the PET Lamp project is that the spirit of the weavers takes centre stage and no two pieces are identical, as each region and artist puts their own imprint on the piece.
One of the most remarkable things about PET Lamp is that it touches on such a variety of important areas, from pure design aesthetic, to social and of course ecological issues. This has not gone unnoticed and PET Lamp’s work has gained worldwide recognition taking home honours across a variety of fields and countries.
All PET Lamps are available at the Safari Living Showroom on High Street, Prahran.
“We don’t impose a design on the weavers; we trust the design instincts of the artisan. It’s a real collaboration.”
— ALVARO CATALAN DE OCÓN
2013 & 2016
PET LAMP WEBSITE
SAFARI LIVING WEBSITE
December 11, 2017