Who: Mahin Hussain What: Bags Where: Pakistan Signature style: Colourful and classic-toned bags made from local leathers and textiles. Inspiration: “I am a firm believer in giving back to the society. I was born and raised in Pakistan. Artisans here are extremely skilled and, with the right direction, their handmade leather bags can gain international recognition.”
Who: Ilona Yusuf What: Lampshades Where: Pakistan Signature style: Unbleached calico lampshades featuring block-printed or hand- embroidered and painted designs. Backstory: Born of European and Pakistani parents, Ilona Yusuf has lived most of her life in Pakistan. She had a long career in crafts, teaching, designing and hand- painting glass panels and silk cloth before turning her talents to lighting and furniture in 2000.
Who: Polly and me What: Clutches Where: Pakistan Signature style: Playful and stylish clutches, coin purses and bags with colourful, hand-embroidered cotton featuring bold and whimsical patterns. Inspiration: Empowering women. “I feel like the president of Pakistan!” says Zaibonda, one of the women for whom joining an embroidery workshop has brought a level of economic freedom and renewed self-confidence.
Who: Zardozi What: Patous (throws) Where: Pakistan Signature style: Hand-woven lambswool patous finished with traditional fine-spun borders and available in a range of incredibly soft colours inspired by of the landscapes of the tribal areas where most of the weavers live. Backstory: A non-profit organization based in Kabul, Zardozi was set up over 26 years ago to support the thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing across the Pakistan border to escape civil war.
Who: Masoud Abdul Baqi What: Trays, trivets and coasters Where: Afghanistan Signature style: Intricate “jali”(lattice) trays, trivets and coasters hand-crafted using geometric patterns with small pieces of sustainable walnut. Backstory: Jali Master Masoud Abdul Baqi was born into a family of six children in Kabul in 1984, but spent the first ten years of his life in Pakistan during the Taliban regime.
Who: Anjum Rana What: Watering cans, small cups and vases Where: Pakistan Signature style: Functional, everyday objects adorned with colour and exuberant poetic and magical folkloric imagery. Backstory: Anjum Rana, founder of Tribal Truck Art grew up in the frontier province of Pakistan. She always loved the beautiful imagery and vibrant colors of Pakistan’s signature painted trucks and buses which are considered works of art and can take up to a full year to paint and decorate.
Who: Shamshad Solangi What: Quilts Where: Pakistan Signature style: Colourfully embellished quilts crafted with artful stitching and locally produced, hand-block printed fabrics which have been organically dyed. Inspiration: Family. Shamshad says, “My biggest achievement is that my children now go to school. I see my future as bright as my children are now getting an education.”
Who: Nasreen Ismail What: Scarves Where: Pakistan Signature style: Bright and colourful, tie-dyed scarves made from local, hand- dyed cotton fabrics. Inspiration: Economic independence. Nasreen says, “I used to earn not more than $10-$20 per month before I joined this small business. Now my income has more than doubled. I work in a group with other women like myself and I’m happy because now I can support my family with my husband and spend a healthy life.”
Who: Alisher Rakhimov What: Ceramics Where: Uzbekistan Style signature: Ceramics inspired by historical shapes, animals, nature, colours and decorations. Backstory: Along with his father, Abbar, Alisher Rakhimov continues a family tradition. Their line of ceramicists dates from the 18th-century and their historical knowledge encompasses over 2,000 years of ceramics made in what is now Uzbekistan. During the Soviet Union’s seven-decade rule, regional crafts in its 15 republics largely…
Who: Blue Diamond What: Jewelry Where: Afghanistan Signature style: Handmade brass rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets in intricate, geometric jail-inspired patterns embellished with locally sourced lapis lazuli, agate and kunzite. Backstory: After graduating from Turquoise Mountain Institute for Arts and Architecture’s jewelry and gem-cutting program in 2011, Habibullah, Ahmad Shafiq, Ahmad Shakeb and Nahibullah decided to set up their own small business.