I am passionate about championing craft so when Harriet Jenner, Founder of the International Craft Initiative, approached us to design papier-mâché pieces for the initiative, my interest was instantly sparked. The International Craft Initiative is a social enterprise that helps craftspeople in areas affected by conflict and political insecurity to regenerate their crafts, work with designers around the world and get their handcrafted products to international markets.
Harriet has given us an opportunity to combine charity, craftwork and sustainability with beautiful and innovative design and we have recently completed some new products to support this wonderful cause. Soon to be available from Shop Kit Kemp, here is a first look…
Our designs are being made by craftspeople in Kashmir, India. Our lamp, side table and stool designs are handcrafted pieces which are sustainable and support one of the most vulnerable communities in the world. Kashmiri papier-mâché is unique because the paper pulp is reduced to a refined paste similar to plaster, which allows it to be malleable and moulded into complex and interesting shapes. It can have a polished and smooth finish similar to that of lacquer, providing many exciting design opportunities.
The process involves working with simple hand tools and locally sourced raw materials, such as waste paper and local rice glue. Its production is labour intensive with the paper pulp needing to be hand-beaten on top of a mould before slowly drying in the sun. The result is a smooth surfaced, colourful piece of art. Worryingly, this ancient technique is at risk with only about forty artists still practising it.
The designs include playful side tables and handy stools with shapely legs. We will also be selecting some of our favourite artists to hand paint a few pieces to create something truly unique.
Each colourway has been chosen to complement a variety of new lamps.
It’s fascinating to see how one material and technique can be transformed by different artists in their unique way. On a recent trip to New York, I stumbled upon this elegant papier-mâché furniture by Decio Studio.
We shouldn’t underestimate the simple art of papier-mâché which we learnt in our early years. We hope these designs will bring attention to the craft, its potential for sustainability and of course, to provide opportunities to work with skilled artisans in places like Kashmir. We can’t wait to share more of this project with you soon. Watch this space!