Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zeri Crafts - Golden textiles from the Gulf

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Laila Al -Hamad's travels to Laos and Cambodia made her think about the slow death of traditional Bedouin art in the Middle East. Rapid modernization in the post oil discovery era, did not give the Gulf artisans an incentive to thrive with hardly any demand for their work. Inspired by the seamless blend of traditional craft with modern aesthetics as a means to preserve local folk culture and economic independence for artisans in East Asia, Laila set up Zeri Crafts. Her aspiration was to help reinterpret the richness of Gulf handicrafts by modernizing crafts using contemporary design. 

When Laila started in 2010, Sadu weaving, an old nomadic tradition and the characteristic weaving of the desert was high on her agenda. Weaving in bold colors and geometric shapes had been for centuries the artistic language of Bedouin women. These had adorned camels, been used as tent dividers and covers for tent floors. They reflected the skill of the weaver and the wealth of the tribe.

Laila set out to work with Sadu weavers but was left disappointed in their dwindling numbers and red tapism that she faced. Her journey finally brought her to Lao, where she collaborated with Carol Cassidy and Lao Textiles, and Sadu patterns were handwoven in Silk. After a challenging period of 2 years, Zeri Craft's first collection was launched in 2012. Inspired by Uwairjan, two-toned triangles that are simple and timeless, and Midhkhar, an equally charming but more complex pattern that includes the two-toned triangles and diamond patterns.

Laila says that "By re-integrating material symbolism in the textiles and preserving the hand element of weaving, our message was about slowing down the process of change and valorizing cultural artifacts in the hope of creating a sustainable heritage. In the process, the need for adaptation brought us to build bridges to new cultures, weavers, and artisans".

Zeri Crafts continues to develop new products across the world and have also started a small project with one sadu weaver in Kuwait, which hopefully will be the start of a long collaboration.

Visit Zeri craft here
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