A by B · COME Treasury Rugs: Stories of Artisanal Subtlety

B·COME is an ethical fashion studio and sustainable supplier agency located in Barcelona. We believe that sustainable fashion and green design is the future. We build strong professional relationships between suppliers, artisans, and brands. Our aim is to endeavor for ALL us to be the protagonist of the change.  Our main job implies to discover. Discovering and travelling is, without a doubt, what we truly love.

Alba Garcia and Anna Cañadell, B·COME Studio

How did you discover Treasury rugs? Describe your journey to India and discovering the rugs.

India is almost like our second home. Every two months we land into this wonderful destination filled with culture, colours and emotional sensations. Chance and luck often accompany us on our trips. During one of our trips, precisely, was where we found these treasures in the form of rugs. We were exploring the enchanting corners of Jaipur and we spontaneously decided to visit one of our supplier whom we had encountered at a fair in Delhi. Our first sensation when we saw the rugs was an instant crush, we felt "in love”. The harmony between the colour the detailed technique of each rug caught our attention. It was then when B ·COME´s first more personal project “A by B ·COME” was born.

What makes them unique?

The rugs are authentic and unique, as they are made by hand by passionate and loving artisans. Each rug has its own story and uniqueness to it. The subtlety of colors and the energy of the piece, reciting the country it comes from, is just fascinating. They aren't simply objects of home decor, but treasures from India that you could keep forever and, only by looking at them, instantly feel the energy of the country.

"They aren't simply objects of home decor, but treasures from India that you could keep forever and, only by looking at them, instantly feel the energy of the country."

What are the main techniques used and what puts an artisanal quality stamp on it?

"A by B· COME " rugs are made by a traditional Indian technique known as block print. It is the earliest and slowest process of textile printing due to its detailed designs, which are often impossible to recreate with other printing methods. Yet, it remains one of the most vivid techniques in India today.

Originally from Rajasthan, India, the method consists of creating their own carved wood designs that are later covered with colour and printed onto fabrics and paper by hand. The result is an imperfect art endowed with intention, emotion, and virtue. Each piece of block-printed fabric reflects the rich history of an ancient tradition, as well as the unique style of the artisans who made it.

 

"Each piece of block-printed fabric reflects the rich history of an ancient tradition, as well as the unique style of the artisans who made it."

Why is the heritage of traditional skills, like block print, important? Why we should help to preserve and cherish these skills and traditions deriving from India?

For B ·COME, quality and design are as important as the way things are made. Our main objective is to strive and empower all to become protagonists of change. We admire the work of artisans all around the world.

Even though technology has opened a wide door to opportunities to create new solutions and facilitate the production process, we are captivated by the life and work of artisans. Their imperfect artisanal products that have a whole story behind surprise ourselves every time we travel. We are excited to get to know about unique textile techniques, especially when those techniques have a whole history behind, such as block print.

When you see HOW and WHY in the first person, you understand and respect craftsmanship as an art. You create a close relationship with the people who have made it, and when they so passionately explain how things are done, you cannot help yourself to fall in love.

What are the main themes and stories running through the artisanal, handcrafted rug line?

For us, the thread is driver of colour, the sensitivity in the use of it. There are styles for all, but all of the rugs breathe serenity, subtlety, and stillness.

Our short story of “A by B ·COME “. From the small corners of India, our treasury rugs learn to fly through the deep blue sea. Lola, their flying lecturer is a world-traveller seeking to find beauty in artisanal objects around the planet. The treasury rugs love her, they want to embrace her and never leave her. Nevertheless, they know they have to undertake a trip in order to accomplish their mission. Along their journey, the rugs were amazed by the wonders of the universe, they observed unknown destinations and fulfilled themselves with experiences.

Behind each rug is a hidden story full of extraordinary moments. From the way they were brought to life, to their flying experience, as of course they had to rest in order to recover and arrive to their destination. They are seeking to find themselves a place where they can feel as home and offer their love as they did with Lola. But from time to time, you must let her fly!

"Our main objective is to strive and empower all to become protagonists of change."

What spaces could benefit from having a Treasury rug? What are their place and meaning in the interior the way you imagine it?

We believe that the space is determined by the personality and taste of each individual. Each rug will attract a different person according to its character and taste. We believe that having a Treasury rug could benefit spaces where they go beyond being perceived as interior objects, but as pieces that can bring back memories, tradition and history.

We imagine the rugs in spaces with delicate lights, neutral or with color, kitchens, bathrooms, rooms, small and big, living rooms. We have different sizes for the rugs to adjust to everyone. The smallest one of 0,90 X 0,60m is a perfect measure to give a touch of color and personality to a room or a closet.

We also have a big size of 1,20 X 1,50m where we imagine wide spaces which help to create amplitude and contrasts. Finally, we have the large rugs of  3,00 x 2,00 meters that we imagine in large outer spaces and terraces.

We adore contrasts. Treasury rugs create story according to current events and serve as a product with ethical values that goes beyond pure aesthetics.

"We believe that having a treasury rug could benefit spaces where they go beyond being perceived as interior objects, but as pieces that can bring back memories, tradition and history."

How do these rugs stand in line with B·Come's hard work so far advocating sustainability principles and transparency?

A by B·COME is completely aligned with B·COME´s philosophy. Since the moment we saw them, we understood and lived the art of block print in first person, namely, the conditions of the workers and the products used to make this art happen. The Treasury rugs are made with a noble cotton base, the color dye used is toxic free, and the technique is performed only in solar time, in fact, this technique is conditioned by atmospheric conditions.

Tell us a good reason, what makes an artisanal rug worth having in the first place?

As mentioned previously, block print is more than a technique, it's an art. We believe that having Treasury rugs for our project A by B ·COME is more than having an interior design object, but a story to complement your house, studio, your life.

Our mission is to transmit the essence of the country through treasures from India. In this case, the rugs become a piece of art or a memory, in which you know that every time you would look at it will remind you of the beautiful and fruitful county India is. We have selected different designs and patterns to allow people to choose according to their taste, personality and energy.

How can we get hold of one of your selected rugs?

For the moment, we are still looking and studying the best method to allow every person in the world to have access to our treasury rugs. For now, the orders can be directly done via mail to info@bcomestudio.com at B·COME.

We are in the process of selecting unique concept stores, who have a similar philosophy as B·COME.

We would love to mention Rita Puig Serra, a young and aspiring photographer based in Barcelona. As without her,  her eye and camera we could not bring the essence and image of A by B·COME to live.


Visit their website and make sure to follow them on Instagram.

Read more here. 

 

Portland General Store: Artisanal Toiletries for Men

Does shaving make your skin itch? Do chemicals in aftershave lotions cause irritation and red skin? Say no more! From the rugged depths of nature to vintage bottles, Portland General Store creates artisanal vegan and organic cosmetics for men. Created in small batches, this line of skincare for men is constantly innovating and brewing up new concoctions. Lisa Brodar, the mastermind behind Portland General Store’s natural skincare recipes, talks men’s skincare and its more organic future.  

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

Various Portland General Store Products.

Various Portland General Store Products.

What inspired the launch of Portland General Store? Where does the name derive from?

The idea was inspired back in the mid 2000’s, it was the heart of the maker movement in urban cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. I was living in Brooklyn and took up an interest in knitting, getting my supplies from a knitting supply shop called “Brooklyn General Store”. Etsy was a new place where makers and artisans could sell their goods. I decided to start a shop that would sell artisans goods in Portland, Maine, where my partner and I had decided to relocate. When I came across a vintage perfumery book and old apothecary bottles, I started mixing up concoctions — creams, perfumes, oils — and so, the brand was born.

In natural cosmetics, ingredients are everything. What are your favourite components to work with and why? 

Wow, so many! I’ll narrow it down to my current favorites, since I’m always experimenting in the lab. Right now I’m a little obsessed with oils, especially camellia flower oil, which I use in a face oil. It is just so beautiful, and non-greasy, perfect for all skin types, male and female. The inspiration to use camellia flower oil in our face oil came its use through the ages in Japan. I mean, Japanese women have flawless skin, there must be a secret! One secret is that they use camellia flower oil to cleanse and moisturize. 

Portland General Store Old-Fashioned Aftershave Balm.

Portland General Store Old-Fashioned Aftershave Balm.

Women's cosmetics have already taken a turn to natural. Are men's products following suit? Why do you think such a movement is happening? 

Absolutely, or at least I like to think so! Being at the forefront of this movement back in 2009, I would say it was a bit of a struggle to convince some men who were used to going to the neighborhood one-stop-shop bar of soap. Using names like ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Tobacco’ I think sort of tricked them into buying a natural product! 

Then, when they started to see results, like less oily or dry skin, less razor burn and irritation, less flaky scalp, they came back, they reviewed the products, we got featured, and there was sort of a domino effect. Matched with the growing trend in men’s grooming (not necessarily all-natural), more men have sought us out, but still, I think there are large pockets of men, domestic and worldwide, who haven’t yet caught on.

"Using names like ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Tobacco’ I think sort of tricked them into buying a natural product!" 

In what way does Portland General Store embody slow beauty principles? 

We definitely don’t rush the process. Every step is slow — from formulation, to making the product, to even how we fulfill and pack. I think a lot of it is like cooking — we pour our hearts into each product, and even each package. I try to imagine myself on the receiver’s end, opening this box, filled with goodies, a card, dried flowers, a sample. It is very personal. We are not a large corporation and fulfillment is done in-house.

What does Portland General Store dream about at night? 

Oh boy, many wonderful things! Big dreams include owning a farm with a little shop that sells the best in natural and organic skincare, and other goods related to living clean and well. But for now, we are in the midst of a package redesign, moving back to a true ‘General Store’ look and feel. We’re working with a hand letterer to design a couple of products this spring, and we’re very excited about that!

"I think a lot of it is like cooking — we pour our hearts into each product, and even each package." 

 

NO/AN: Humane Artisanal Approach Towards Handbag Luxury

Finnish NO/AN by Anna Lehmusniemi is an artisanal handbag brand boasting a purposeful, well-executed approach, whereas each bag is crafted by one single artisan throughout the process. Created as a reaction to the reckless speed of fashion industry, Nordic NO/AN believes in honest, detailed design approach and thorough, transparent craftsmanship of patiently dreamed up bags from start to the finish. The collection’s trademark matte, muted colour palette, as well as sharp graphic and geometrical lines, recalling Nordic landscape and architecture, allured us immediately. One true meticulous, quality fashion staple worth having this soon approaching spring season, that's a NO/AN bag. 

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

What were the key concerns regarding the fast fashion industry that turned into values you embrace with NO/AN?

The key concern is the overconsumption of things that do not last and are not needed. If a T-shirt costs £4,99 and a pair of jeans £12,99, there is clearly something wrong. It indicates the quality is not good and the artisans haven't been decently paid for their work. Fashion productions are also often far bigger than the demand, and so much goes to waste, or is finally sold at a very low price. As a designer, I also feel that it is important to give the design process the time it needs to create a product that is resilient. When it comes to fast fashion, this route is not the objective.

NO/AN’s values are built on honesty and sustainability. I want to create bags that can last for a long time, both quality and design wise. For me it is also very important to work with ateliers and suppliers that care about their employees, who are paid fairly. 

What's the most unique thing about NO/AN we need to know now?

The most unique thing is that every bag is made by one artisan from the beginning to the end. The bags are also signed by the artisans who made them. For me this is luxury.

"As a designer, I also feel that it is important to give the design process the time it needs to create a product that is resilient. When it comes to fast fashion, this route is not the objective."

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

Is the leather and other materials you use ethically sourced? Where do they come from?

I use natural grain leather and nickel-free metal zippers in my bags. The leather is a bi-product of the meat industry, and it comes from a Portuguese tannery that prioritises environmental preservation. The zippers are made by the Swiss brand RIRI, which are partly made in Switzerland and partly in Italy. I know both suppliers well.

What's your opinion about the fashion industry turning a degree closer to transparency and honesty? What could still be done differently?

It is clearly a growing trend and I think it is great. If the brands have nothing to hide, it should not be an issue to be open about where they produce and source the materials.

Sustainability and transparency can easily sound like something boring. I think some transparent brands could focus more on the image and to create an interesting, story-telling world around their products. For example, Everlane has executed it very well.

How do your Finnish roots pair with the aesthetics of the brand? Do you feel geography has influenced your art direction in any meaningful way?

Even though I have been living abroad several years, my design style and personal taste is still very much inspired by my Finnish roots. Actually, I think that the more I stay away from Finland, the more I take inspiration from Finland and appreciate Finnish design. Finnish design is often very minimal, but still not entirely boring. These are the same characteristics I want to communicate with my bags and NO/AN's art direction.

"Sustainability and transparency can easily sound like something boring. I think some transparent brands could focus more on the image and to create an interesting, story-telling world around their products."

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

The branding of fashion will possibly always be more fast paced — we need new images for products every season, if not more frequently. It's all production, all waste. How could this advertising process be perhaps slowed down — I would bring forward more seasonless campaign images, etc? What's your take on that?

Since I do not work with fashion seasons, I also aim to have seasonless campaigns. From NO/AN’s first shooting you cannot say directly, if it is a summer or a winter collection, because it works for both. For me brands coming up with campaigns frequently is a positive thing. It creates work for photographers, stylists, make-up artist and models. If you create digital marketing content, you do not waste materials. But if you print, it is important not to print more than needed.

I think it is important to refresh the image of a brand and collection every once in a while, even though it is a slow fashion brand. A sustainable brand does not have to be boring.

Shop here:

https://noanstudio.com

Beej x Raag Workshop: Homage To India's Traditional Textile Skills Heritage

As a brand that proudly celebrates the heritage of Raag workshop with its tradition dating back to 1975, Beej draws upon a modern, moveable take on India's traditional textile skills. Whilst placing the highest importance on sourcing locally from different parts of the country, the uniqueness of Beej lies in making their clothes entirely in-house. The nature of Raag's repertoire of garments enhance a subtle self-confidence and ease of movement. We say 'yes' to wearing traditional feminine enigma paired with flawless fluency. 

Ikat Overlay Coat by Beej, 2016. 

Ikat Overlay Coat by Beej, 2016. 

Foreword:

Beej started with the idea of bringing Raag, started by Asha Sarabhai in 1975 and available in other parts of the world but not yet at home, to India. We are keen to complement the Raag line of clothes with other objects that share its ethos and so created Beej as an umbrella brand under which these products can be sold. We want to celebrate India’s rich heritage, stand for uncompromising quality and a delightful customer experience, and adhere to the highest ethical standards. The Beej and Raag logos, created by Ivan Chermayeff, emphasise the relationship between the two and the fact that we think of ourselves very much as a contemporary brand.

What are the sustainable solutions you have incorporated into the making of your garments?

All Raag clothes are made entirely with handloom fabrics, the production of which keeps alive rich traditions, provides employment opportunities to artisans and is far less resource intensive than mill made fabrics. The environmental impact of our production processes is negligible as our clothes are made by hand.

Our clothes are designed to be durable and make allowances for the wearer to gain or lose a few pounds. Construction techniques and finishing details such as the elimination of seams when possible, addition of gussets for ease of movement and the avoidance of zippers ensure that our clothes last well and give pleasure over the years. We further facilitate their use over time by offering free alterations and repairs for life. Customers who would like to recycle or repurpose an old garment, by making a stole out of a beloved old coat for example, are encouraged to send them to us.

"Overproduction, rampant consumerism and wastefulness, especially in the case of fast fashion, further compounds the adverse global impact that the fashion industry can have."

Where do you see the importance of ethical fashion stand today? Why are we only now starting to open our eyes to the downside of the fashion industry?

The way clothes are produced can often be extremely destructive to the environment and exploitative of the people who make them. Overproduction, rampant consumerism and wastefulness, especially in the case of fast fashion, further compounds the adverse global impact that the fashion industry can have.

An increased awareness about these issues has made people more conscious of the choices they make. The building collapse at a garment factory in Bangladesh, which tragically killed over a thousand workers in 2013, was a watershed moment and resulted in global outrage. It brought to the fore concerns that had been harbored for a long time and which could no longer be ignored.

In light of these realities, and given the huge increase in the number of brands that have launched in the Indian fashion industry in the recent past, an ethical and humane approach to fashion is especially relevant.

Wrap Top by Beej, 2016. 

Wrap Top by Beej, 2016. 

What were the main social concerns that led you to inventing a sustainable brand? 

We started out with the goal of making simple, durable, quality products, in an ethical manner, that we hope would bring pleasure to their users. We were keen to dispel the notion that good business practices make bad business sense by running a humane and efficient setup.

In the Indian fashion industry, it is common practice for many aspects of production to be outsourced. In such a situation, especially so in a developing country, it is very hard to ensure that the people making your products are working in a wholesome environment and are being treated fairly. We were adamant about wanting to make all our products entirely in-house. It enables us to guarantee that those involved in the making of our clothes get a fair wage and work healthy hours in an environment in which they are treated with dignity and respect. Having direct control over all production processes also enables us to maintain high quality standards. Very few companies, and none amongst our peers that we are aware of, make their own products entirely in-house.

"We were keen to dispel the notion that good business practices make bad business sense by running a humane and efficient setup."

What does the pairing India x Sustainable Fashion tell us today and possibly in the future? Where does its heritage stretch back in time? 

We’ve always thought of tradition as a continuous strand, incorporated in the contemporary – that’s what keeps it alive. India has a long tradition of minimizing waste. Recycling has always been an imaginative and inventive art and is very prevalent. Old saris, for example, are turned into quilts when they can no longer be worn. The sari itself, being an unstitched garment, essentially a piece of cloth that is given its dimensionality by the wearer, is an inspired heritage. It can be worn in many different ways, limited only by the imagination of the wearer, and places emphasis on her instead of on a brand. We feel fortunate to be part of this heritage.

Your pieces look modern and comfortable, and not traditional at all! Who is the customer Beej is aimed at? 

We hope Beej would appeal to those who have an understanding of detail and the feel of what they wear. Our audience is discerning women (age 25 and above) with a simple, understated aesthetic and a personal sense of style that isn’t dictated by trends. We envision our customers to have a wide range of interests, be global in outlook and have an appreciation and affection for India’s rich cultural heritage.

"The sari itself, being an unstitched garment, essentially a piece of cloth that is given its dimensionality by the wearer, is an inspired heritage."

What's the best opportunity that creating Beej has led you to? What has been the surprise element?

Appliqué cardigan by Beej, 2016. 

Appliqué cardigan by Beej, 2016. 

It has been a tremendous privilege for us to get to work with Asha Sarabhai and to get the opportunity to bring Raag to customers in India. Being a small, and young, company we can be nimble and we want to make the most of this by transforming ourselves with each collection. Our first collection takes inspiration from the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich to reinterpret Raag classics and we have exciting plans for future collections. Each collection, while rooted in the values, sensibilities, and the design language of Raag, will hopefully seem fresh and vital. Exploring a different theme for each collection has been great fun and an intellectually and creatively stimulating experience.

https://www.beejstore.com

Textile Designer Nelly Rose: Honouring Global Artisanship with a Voice

For the London-based textile designer Nelly Rose, on top of placing elements of traditional craftsmanship and up-cycling in the centre of her eccentric textile artwork, the power of collaboration is key. The main themes running through her expressive textile lines are female empowerment and creating a ‘voice’ through her conscious craftsmanship. Nelly Rose is extremely concerned about the de-valuing and vanishing of traditional techniques that should be cherished and preserved instead. Through her vibrant, empowering prints — forever, if we may.

Photo by  Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

What led you to sustainable approach in textile design? How unique is your approach in London vs on a wider, global scale? 

I have studied Print, Knitwear and Embellishment, and all of these have led me to make more conscious decisions about the materials I was using and where the techniques derived from. In London, my approach is very much inspired by the concept of 'upcycling' and DIY-culture. On a global scale, my work is lead by my curiosity and passion for handcrafts and discovering their origin; nothing excites me more than being able to include them in my collections. I am currently exploring Japan, absorbing the culture and discovering all kinds of beautiful craftsmanship [from the region].

What are the values your brand encompasses? What are the main themes you are keen to explore? 

My values as a brand lie in working on projects which focus around female empowerment and creating a voice through a creative medium. I have worked in various projects from ‘shop window stitch-ins’, raising awareness about the Rana Plaza factory collapse, to the first modest wear runway collection in the UK made entirely in artisan houses in Indonesia.  

I tend to use a lot of typography in my work, which I guess contributes to the idea of raising a ‘voice’. Overall, the main themes I explore in my work are: Handcraft, Messages and Storylines, Protest and Equality, Printed Textiles, Creative Campaigns.  

"The brand I strive to create is my expressive vision of what I consider to be ethical in my own way, whilst still being loud, bold and a little eccentric." 

Photo by  Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

How does Nelly Rose as a person and as a brand differ, if at all?  

Interesting question! I would say my personality as Nelly Rose mainly focuses on networking and bringing people together, who have similar mindsets about changing the world in creative ways. I guess Nelly Rose is my rainbow vision, my compassion and my voice.  The brand I strive to create is my expressive vision of what I consider to be ethical in my own way, whilst still being loud, bold and a little eccentric.  

Your work was recently showcased at the Green Fashion Week in Milan. What does the experience mean to you? 

Green Fashion Week was a brilliant experience as it fused together my interest in global climate change, as well as having fashion at the forefront.  The new collection I showed was of hand painted up-cycled garments, ranging from denim to leather, which I salvaged from a textile waste plant.  My highlight of the experience was the photo shoot I directed at the Bosco Verticale alongside designer Silvia Giovanardi. It fused the relationship between sustainable fashion and architecture, and it was very inspiring to witness my work being a part of that. 

Although I love the ‘calendar’ fashion weeks, I also have to express my love and connection to other global fashion events such as AFWL (Africa Fashion Week London) and the recently participated in GFW. I find that there is an open dialogue and a more personal level of fashion presented.  

"I tend to use a lot of typography in my work, which I guess contributes to the idea of raising a ‘voice’."

Photo by   Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

What are the most meaningful collaborations you have done so far? What do you consider perhaps your biggest accomplishment? 

I consider my biggest accomplishment to date the Co-Identity collection which has been showed at the Jakarta Fashion Week and then London Fashion week via Fashion Scout. The collection was a collaboration with Dian Pelangi and Odette Steele in which involved fully immersing myself in Indonesia as an inhabitant and creating the textiles for the full 24 Looks of Modest Womenswear. These consisted of fully hand rendered techniques ranging from hand painted gowns, Batik and Songket weaving.  

Making of: Nelly Rose Artisanal Textiles. 

Making of: Nelly Rose Artisanal Textiles. 

What irritates you about the fast fashion industry? Why do we need a slower approach? 

The fast fashion industry irritates me mainly because of mass consumption and the de-valuing and plagiarising of traditional techniques.  I believe in a slower approach to prevent the de-humanisation of garment workers in the supply chain, thus preventing the capitalisation of poverty.  We take such an avid interest in the ingredients that go into our body or our pharmaceuticals, so I don’t understand why we don’t have the same mindset about what we wear on our skin.  The industry deliberately makes it hard to question, and easy to ignore, so it is imperative we constantly ask #whomademyclothes.  

Do you personally feel it is more difficult to deliver work using ethical and artisanal approach? 

I believe that in order to deliver a luxury product, there should be a transparent process. In my personal work, the initial process is more difficult, as it can be more costly as a young emerging designer; however I am constantly trying to inform myself in ways I can maximise the artisanal approach. I have a vision of working with artisan communities across the world to collaborate on beautiful creative outcomes, and I will carry on finding the most efficient ways to deliver these collaborations.  

"The fast fashion industry irritates me mainly because of mass consumption and the de-valuing and plagiarising of traditional techniques." 

 Nelly Rose, credits: Laila Cohen / Imprint Magazine. 

 Nelly Rose, credits: Laila Cohen / Imprint Magazine. 

How would you categorise yourself in the fashion world? What's the most important message you aim to deliver as an artist? 

I predominantly refer to myself as a designer because I like to create wearable pieces which tell a story. However, as designer refers to the process prior to a piece being created, I also refer to myself as a creative director because I love to work with a concept in various forms, such as film and installation. Ultimately, I aim to deliver an outcome through the power of collaboration, which reflects the journey and honours the craft. 

http://www.nelly-rose.com