Sophia Watanabe of Sophia 203 May 21 2020, 0 Comments
Growing up with grey icy, ivory, and white tones in Sweden, the most exotic and colorful places were the ones that attracted me the most. After a short stop at a fashion school in Paris, I found myself in India.
I ended up in Jaipur, to be more exact, the Pink City. No one depicts the magic of India better than Tim Walker. It is exactly as mad, messy, magical, and happy as it seems.
My work with colors started when I worked for the French jewelry designer Marie Helene De Taillac when my everyday work, was to select gemstones in perfect color nuances.
Living in our own dream palace, I met Nur and Deborah, who were great sources of encouragement and inspiration in life and work.
The advantage of living in a city like Jaipur, for it, not only being pink, but also being filled with skillful artisans of varied crafts. I found my passion while wandering in the streets of the bazaar, where I discovered the most beautiful embroidery technique. That was the beginning of Sophia 203.
Choosing a favorite color for someone who's made color into her main jobe, would be like asking for my favorite child. But in the honor of Jaipur, the city where it all started, I would like to highlight one of my favorite colors, the nude shade.
My favorite artist for the past years is Brain Calvin. I love the way he uses color. Whether I'm making the color placement of an ecru piece or one of my own, it usually starts with an image that gives me an idea of how I want the color harmony to be.
You can find our full collection with Sophia 203 here.
Priti Pugalia of Craft Boat May 20 2020, 0 Comments
Today we are on a journey with Priti of Craft Boat. Priti always wanted to see design as a way of life, she would train herself every day to go deeper into its fundamental elements and principles. She believes that her role at Craft Boat, the brand that she established herself, is to facilitate a stage for the artisans which she works with to shine. For her design team to connect the dreams of other artists with the artisans. She does much more than just that we can tell you! We worked with her on several pieces, such as the wonderful Stationery Trunks.
You are a bit of an octopus, doing and managing so many things at the same time, can you tell us a little about yourself, what you do, and what your favorite project is.
During my formative years as a student, I was fortunate to have a bend towards creative learning and use to spend a lot of time picking design/creative books/Magazine from IDEO, EDWARD DE BONO & VIEWPOINT. Today as I am experiencing the world of business and creative endeavors, these books and everything I learned in those early days have made me who I am and formed how I think of Craft Boat. I always wanted to see design as a way of life and everyday use to train myself to go deeper into its fundamental elements and principles.
My favorite project has been making absolute beauty with Brigitte’s block printed fabric and seeing a new story altogether unfold using the Craft Boat’s aesthetic. Her mentorship and eye for detail came in as a blessing.
At Craft Boat, my main role is to facilitate a stage for our artisans to create and our design team to connect the dots between the customers and the artisans.
Your quality is impeccable, how do you manage this.
Most of this is possible because, from the initial launch of Craft Boat, the meaning of craft for me was how well something was made and presented and used. Attention to detail has been our story from the beginning and beautiful finishing comes with that. Everyone’s belief just gets better. We just hope this stays.
You’ve managed to set a trend with marbling which was really starting to die out in Jaipur, why did you choose marbling?
I was not aware of marbling as a process until during my everyday visit to Sanganer and scouting around many paper factories, It was introduced to me by my sample master with his colleague who is the artist behind all our marbling papers. The first time I visited his house where he makes the patterns with his family, his whole family showed me the process and I was amazed at how well they self-trained themselves in doing the craft in a very small cozy house. They certainly needed a design mind to come in and give them more energy and ideas of color stories and projects that could come to life. I immediately bought 50 sheets of various patterns from him and came home with the rolled bundle which I opened and spread in my whole house cum office then and I must have spent hours staring at this first purchase. And since then there was no stopping in my brain with ideas and possibilities with marbling.
Tomorrow we will be delving into the magical world of embroidery, with our next collaborator!
Brigitte Singh May 18 2020, 2 Comments
Today we meet the wonderful Brigitte Singh. Her story is straight out of a fairy tale book. We have always been in love with Brigitte's work and prints, so we jumped on the chance to work and collaborate with her. Some pieces we bought directly from her, like her wonderful coats and quilts. And on other pieces, we worked with her on creating new shapes using her beautiful textiles. What was amazing when we launched her line, a lot of local clients were happy to access her again. As they told us there was a shop in Kuwait that used to sell her work in the nineties! Let's meet this treasure of a woman.
What year did you arrive in India?
I arrived 40 years back on the 8th of October 1980 as a student with a scholarship to study the techniques used in miniature painting.
Did you know immediately that you were in love with block printing, or did you take the time you needed to explore?
I discovered block printing in Sanganer on my way to fetching special paper done for miniature painters. Sanganer craft industry was by tradition into block printing cotton and paper making for books and artwork. I was enchanted to discover fabric printing and immediately took to it. To play to start with and then without much thinking about it I found myself very busy with it. What fun it was! And a way to become autonomous financially, having decided to settle in India with my beautiful husband, Surya Vijay Singh.
Your workshop is by far one of the most beautiful we have ever come across. We understand you want to become completely ecological, do you think this is an extremely far fetched idea, or something tangible.
I would have loved to go 100% ecological however it would take another life to do so. That's why I wanted you to take over from now. It is possible and as in any serious project, one has to be involved 100% to realize it. I have tried to be as good as I could and within my reach as I was alone with my dream, and sometimes lonely and a bit isolated. Which is what saved me too, allowing the story to unfold day after day working at it slowly.
4. One piece of advice you can give a young person starting out in the field of craft and design?
Just do it!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's lovely collaborator!
Deborah Di Fiore May 18 2020, 0 Comments
Today we are introducing Deborah De Fiore, graphic designer and art director extraordinaire, who has been collaborating with ecru from the inception of the brand in 2013. We are constantly working with her from communication plans to art direction, to creating beautiful stationery for ecru. Let's get to know Deborah a little better.
You are all over ecru, can you tell us more about this!
I remember when I met Nur at Gem Palace, Jaipur, it was 14 years ago. At the time I was working for the jewelry designer Marie Helene de Taillac, and Nur started to work for Munnu Kasliwal. We were three girls from Paris, Stockholm, Beirut working in Jaipur. We quickly became friends and moved together to the beautiful Barwara House. Sophia, Nur and I, had a lot of fun and we quickly became a small family. As we were so supportive of each other, it allowed us to start our own projects and companies. I started Modest Genius Design graphic and art direction, Nur started ecru, and Sophia launched Sophia 203 the beautiful embroidery atelier.
I was doing branding, logos, packaging for them. Then I started developing products, stationery, and prints. The collaboration has lasted over eight years today. Even if we are in different parts of the world now, I’m in Paris, Nur between Jaipur and Kuwait, and Sophia in Tokyo we are still very connected. I’m in the process of working on ecru’s communication and looking forward to designing some new pop-ups!
You are a graphic designer, a scenographer an illustrator, and then some, can you tell us about what you do and how you do it? Can you share with us some of your beautiful illustrations?
I love to work on different projects because I learn from them a lot. The way I approach it is not so different. It is very important for me to understand the context. For me design should have a purpose, otherwise, there is no use of producing anything. In that sense, I appreciate designs that have been worked on until the essential part is left.
However, when I am drawing, I’m not thinking much. I have learned slowly to trust my feelings, my subconscious. For a long time, I wanted to draw but when I was in front of the paper I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to draw. What is important, what needs to be drawn? For a few years, I could not answer these questions, so I didn’t want to draw. Until the day I decided to stop asking myself why and what, and just started drawing things that I liked, and what was in front of me. Mostly friends, family, or unknown people, but also nature, trees, and objects. Sometimes I draw something from my mind, but rarely. I like to draw real things from this world.
Today, drawing is part of my routine, and I am so glad because It makes me happy. I feel it is taking me somewhere. One day all these drawings will make sense, I’m confident of that! Meanwhile, I’ll keep doing my thing and trust myself.
We hear your father can also make magic with his hands, tell us more!
My father is the best Tailor in Paris! I am his modest proud daughter. He learned from his Italian dad, at the age of 14. Today he is 79 and you can find him working in his studio Rue de Tournon with the same big scissors and chalk as his dad did listening to the same radio station, he has been listening to the past 40 years.
His work is impeccable, beautiful fabrics, all done by hand. If you meet him, he will tell you lots of stories, because his clients are mostly interesting personalities like politicians, artists, and businessmen. I remember him telling me the story of one of his clients who sent his private plane to Greece to get feta because he probably wanted to have tomatoes feta salad for lunch! Or the stingy short man who would always try to get a discount despite that he was a millionaire! But he also has an adorable client who adored him and came with gifts and love letters! Without forgetting the one and only women he has cut a jacket for the beautiful Fabienne Verdier. My dad and I share the love of beautiful things done well, and chocolate too!
I asked my father do you have any advice for someone starting in the design or artistic field? He responded, "you should go toward beauty. Any work you love will be well done. You must be in love with and passionate about your artistic job because it might not be lucrative or recognized".
Stay tuned for tomorrow's wonderful woman...
Zeenat Kulavoor May 17 2020, 0 Comments
This week we are introducing you to, and getting to know our collaborators a little better. Today we meet Zeenat who collaborated with her on Dancer Cocktail Napkins and the Memory Album. Let's get to know Zeenat a little better.
Zeenat Kulavoor is a Typographer + Graphic Designer based in Bombay. She specializes in Urdu type, lettering, and calligraphy. She intends to change the perception towards the use of Urdu in India - which is widely perceived to be limited to religious usage. Using tongue-in-cheek humor and wit, combined with the use of scale and varied printmaking methods, Zeenat is working towards reinventing possibilities of how the script can be a part of regular day to day life. She also works as the design head at Bombay Duck Designs and runs a small design shop called BombayDuckShop that sells select books, zines, prints, and objects that blur the boundaries between illustration, art, and design.
Zeenat Kulavoor is a Typographer + Graphic Designer based in Bombay. She specializes in Urdu type, lettering, calligraphy, and expresses/publishes her work under the name ‘ilm’ (Urdu for 'knowledge'). She also works as the design head at Bombay Duck Designs and runs a small design shop called BombayDuckShop that sells select books, zines, prints, and objects that blur the boundaries between illustration, art & design.
What started as a research for a college project in regional typefaces ended up becoming her current pursuit. Zeenat studied the Urdu script during her time at Sir J J Institute of Applied Arts and has been working with the script for the past 10 years. Her understanding of the Urdu script and its application in graphic design is now part of multiple projects including lettering for a home interior products and furniture collection called Mughal Pop by Mozez Singh exclusively available at Good Earth chain of stores, a unique 30 feet by 10 feet Type installation called ‘Harmony’ for Facebook India’s Artist In Residence project at the Hyderabad office and lettering for the opening sequence of Mira Nair’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ in collaboration with Design Temple, to name a few. Currently, she is working on an exciting project in collaboration with a Germany - India based Lifestyle brand.
Zeenat believes that the Urdu script has endless creative possibilities. She intends to change the perception towards the use of Urdu in India - which is widely perceived to be limited to religious usage. Using tongue-in-cheek humor and wit, combined with the use of scale and varied printmaking methods, Zeenat is working towards reinventing possibilities of how the script can be a part of regular day to day life.
Apart from her Urdu work, she has also been a part of BombayDuckDesigns since 2010. At BDD she has worked on a variety of projects in the areas of branding, art direction, festival decor, packaging, murals and installations, websites, and stage designs for clients like NH7Weekender, Nike, RedBull India, Pepsi, Facebook India, to name a few. She has also been an integral part of the design and development of all self-published books and illustrated zines from BombayDuckDesigns. She also runs a small design shop called BombayDuckShop that sells select books, zines, prints, and objects that blur the boundaries between illustration, art & design.
Tell us about you!
I wear many hats! I Art Direct illustration and graphic design projects at my studio Bombay Duck Designs. I run a small gallery/shop blurring boundaries between illustration, art & design called Bombay Duck Shop. As my personal art practice, I work on Type, lettering, and calligraphy-based projects with a focus on multilingual scripts. In my free time I document street cats on my blog I Spot Cats.
We love your work at ecru, can you tell us what inspired you to start working on typography?
‘Every artist has a unique voice’ - this is something I kept hearing during Art school days and that's exactly what I kept searching for. Although I intended to focus on illustration in Art School (inspired by my brother - Sameer), my first ever ‘Introduction to Typography’ class was super inspiring and opened new doors for me. I started noticing the role of typography in day to day life and that made me realize the scope and impact of it. This observation kept pushing me to do more! Multilingual scripts excite me the most mainly because of the challenges they throw at me.
What is BombayDuck?
BombayDuck is a local fish also knows as ‘Bombil’ found int he Arabian Sea near Bombay and Its also my studio!
BombayDuckDesigns was founded by my brother Sameer Kulavoor in 2008, I joined him in 2010 and is now leading under my creative direction. BDD’s image-making approach coupled with a wide arsenal of tools, methods, and mediums has worked well for music & cultural projects, publications, exhibits, motion graphics, animation, advertising, and editorials. It is the earliest ' specialized' independent studio of its kind in India. Our clientele includes brands like Nike, Bacardi, Facebook, Google, Godrej, Apple, Lodha, Diageo, RedBull, Pepsi, Nh7 Weekender (Music festival), Lufthansa, WPP, Adobe, to name a few.
What do you love most about Bombay?
Its a love affair. Somethings I like and somethings I dislike. But my most favorite thing - my walks around the city, just observing its contrast nature. Walking through the crowded and magical lanes of Mohammed Ali road which ultimately lead you to the Fort area and suddenly the whole landscape changes!
Stay tuned for our next collaborator!
Sharing Beauty May 17 2020, 0 Comments
The importance of sharing beauty and food, even virtually, has never been so highlighted. Enjoying and savoring these precious gifts is a constant reminder that we are the fortunate ones. It is part of our culture to share and to help those who are less fortunate. We know and are very proud to see, so many helping those in their reach. Nothing is more important now. If you are interested in sharing with those slightly farther we have compiled a list of organizations we trust and believe in as suggestions.
India NGOs & Charities
Talab Khan - A fund to help a community of folk musicians and dancers in Rajasthan who normally leave their villages to perform and now are unable to move considering the circumstances.
Ketto - Karwan e Mohabbat and a team of volunteers are reaching out to the most vulnerable people and communities who find themselves stranded without work, food, and home during the lockdown announced by the Indian government. As millions of daily wage laborers and working-class people take to the highways to find their way home, the war against COVID is becoming a humanitarian crisis.
Safa - Daily wage workers in India have had to walk for miles to reach their villages, some dying en route. Their daily bread is what they earn working day today in cities, hand to mouth circumstances. These workers are unable to work today, Safa is an organization that has been distributing food and care packages in Hyderabad, North Karnataka, Bangalore, and Chennai.
Feeding India - Powered by Zomato are working to provide food support to families of daily wage earners to help them with a reliable supply of meals in the absence of employment opportunities. Read more about what they are doing on their site.
Lebanon NGOs & Charities
Food Blessed - Food blessed is a local hunger relief initiative that works with businesses and civil society to reduce the number of people going hungry in Lebanon.
Anti-Racist Movement - Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) was launched in 2010 as a grassroots collective by young Lebanese feminist activists in collaboration with migrant workers and migrant domestic workers.
Sesobel - Since 1976, SESOBEL has taken all possible steps to implement a coherent and monitored service of assisting children with disabilities and to accompany their families as partners in facing life’s challenges.
KAFA - KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation is a feminist, secular, Lebanese, non-profit, non-governmental civil society organization seeking to create a society that is free of social, economic, and legal patriarchal structures that discriminate against women.
Just Help - A new form of a food drive.
Kuwait NGOs & Charities
Istiqrar Kuwait – Charity aiming to donate groceries to Bidoon (Stateless) families during the COVID-19 crisis.
SWS – Protects and supports vulnerable populations as well as advocating to further advance human rights in Kuwait. During the COVID-19 crisis, they have been focusing on how to help these communities, specifically ex-pats who have lost their jobs and income in this difficult time.
The more of us share, the better it is.
Keralan Magic Nursing Water May 10 2020, 0 Comments
With both my children, I decided that nursing (breastfeeding) was something I would commit to for six months. Very luckily, I had a wonderful baby nurse by my side who helped me through this tumultuous time- it was not easy! Every day, she would make a thermos of what I now call Magic Water to drink throughout the day. Now at first, it was tough drinking it, but I quickly saw the benefits, and I now swear by it! When my second child was born, I knew it would be my daily routine once again for the next six months. As you know, hydration is the most important part of nursing, so it helps with your hydrating surely. However, more crucially- my children never suffered colic or gas-related discomfort because of the soothing combination of these natural herbs. For all you breastfeeding Mama’s, this one is for you.
½ tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
a large knob of fresh ginger- approximately the length of your index finger
2 liters of water
Grind together all the spices along with the ginger and put in a heavy pot with 2 liters of water and cover. Slowly bring to a rolling boil. In about 45 minutes when the spices have permeated the water- strain into a thermos. Drink throughout the entire day.
Ikat Print Coloring Page May 10 2020, 0 Comments
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Polka Palm Coloring Page May 10 2020, 0 Comments
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Zubaidi Coloring Page May 04 2020, 0 Comments
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Toucan Coloring Page May 03 2020, 0 Comments
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Della Coloring Page May 02 2020, 0 Comments
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Pickles! April 28 2020, 0 Comments
Growing up we always had pickles from my maternal grandmother’s house. It was a thing she always did. I especially loved her turnips that she pickled with brine that had coloring from beets. This is something that she passed down to my mom, and aunts and uncles. My youngest uncle seems to have picked up the pickling gene from her. I’ve always wanted to pick up this “talent”, and since we are quarantined, I thought it would be the perfect time to do it. I researched some recipes on Pinterest and found that Cookie + Kate’s recipe was the most accessible. The beauty of pickling, it makes food last. A perfect thing for these times. I also found the whole process quite relaxing. Find the recipe below.
1 bunch radishes*
¾ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup**
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this yields very spicy pickles, so use ½ teaspoon for medium spicy pickles or none at all)
½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds (optional)
Optional add-ins: garlic cloves, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds
To prepare the radishes: Slice off the tops and bottoms of the radishes, then use a sharp chef’s knife or mandolin to slice the radishes into very thin rounds. Pack the rounds into a pint-sized canning jar. Top the rounds with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds.
To prepare the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, honey, or maple syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour the mixture over the radishes.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You can serve the pickles immediately or cover and refrigerate for later consumption. The pickles will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks, although they are in their most fresh and crisp state for about 5 days after pickling.
*You can use cucumbers, carrots, onions, and or cabbage as an alternative.
**If you are vegan, you can use maple syrup instead of honey as an option.
(Images courtesy of Hussah AlTamimi, and recipe courtesy of Cookie + Kate)
Adele's Artichokes April 25 2020, 0 Comments
400 grams of chickpea (can or dried)
2 Pots of artichoke hearts
2 Onions sliced in rondels
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Lemon Juiced
Parsley Leaves for decoration
Salt and Pepper
First, let us prepare the chickpeas if they are dried then soak them overnight with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Once soaked then boil them for roughly 30 minutes until tender. If you are using a can then rinse them well.
I usually soak my chickpeas in freshwater once ready and while soaking them in the water I rub them together for the skin to loosen and flow up to the top.
Once the skin floats up to the surface of the water, skim it off. Naked chickpeas are the best, not essential but helps with digestion!
In a pan heat your tablespoon of butter on low heat, as soon as the butter begins to melt throw in your chickpeas to sauté them until they begin to have a golden shine to them.
Then throw in the onion roundels, wait till they begin to become transparent, as soon as this happens put in some water so the chickpeas and onions cook without burning and caramelize slightly when you feel the water is reducing slightly and you have what feels like a sauce add the artichoke hearts. Feel free to add water whenever you want to hydrate, it should never feel dry. Wait until the artichokes are tender, constantly basting them with the sauce you’ve formed. When the dish is ready, and your artichokes are tender cover them in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Maybe pour half the juice over and taste, I love it extra tangy so I can go overboard with my lemon juice, a critique I often get from a certain Italian man.
Once ready, put the artichokes on your serving plate, place the chickpeas and onions in the heart of the artichoke, and decorate with a parsley leaf as an added touch of color.
(Images courtesy of ecru)
Best Lemonadela Recipe from California April 24 2020, 0 Comments
3 lemons- coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
2 cups fine sugar
2 cups freshly squeezed lemons
5 cups of water
In a blender, combine the chopped lemons, sugar, and lemon juice. Pulse the lemon mixture a few times then blend on high speed for 2 minutes until the lemon chunks break down and become smoothie-like.
Strain the lemon puree through a fine strainer and into a pitcher, pressing the solids through with the back of a spoon. Discard the solids, pour in the water, stirring with a wooden spoon until the lemon puree fully dissolves and mixes thoroughly with the water. Serve over ice.
Magnetic Stars April 22 2020, 0 Comments
We were in the mood for a majestic and vibrant table one night. I love the idea of flooding one color throughout the setting. So we used our cobalt blue Ceramic Stars and had a blue table cloth from my travels, and added heavy blue glasses that I bought when I first got married. We found some zesty light green leaves to add some freshness.
Farm Feels April 20 2020, 0 Comments
For a more casual lunch, we set a neutral and clean palette. The monochrome plates make for a clean base paired with linen Deco Palm napkins that I got made for my wedding. We placed large wooden chopping boards soon to be filled with a massive array of overflowing cheeses, fruits, nuts, crackers, and spreads. This is the sort of table where you used your hands to snack and spend hours telling childhood stories.
Tropical Adventure April 19 2020, 0 Comments
Longing for an adventure we decided to go into the jungle for our dinner. Using our palm placemats and napkins we created the base to our table for the day. Some gold plates form Lebanon, tortoise glasses, and an oversized candle on top of our Marble Star Plate. We learned about animals and talked about our future expeditions together.
Pink Dreams Table April 15 2020, 0 Comments
When your daughter requests a pink table, a pink table she will get. I don’t have any pink tablecloths at home so instead, I folded a Turkish towel with pink stripes I bought in Istanbul several years ago. Paired our Coral Ceramic Stars as well as coral melamine flatware to add to the pink them.
Indigo, Kutch April 13 2020, 0 Comments
Kutch is like no other place I’ve ever seen. Kutch means something which becomes intermittently wet and dry. It's a vast area comprised of hundreds of nomadic tribes who each have their own aesthetic culture and tribal regulation. Kutch existed for centuries on barter systems. Shepherds would give wool to weavers, who in return would weave them in return for extra wool.
The area was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2001 that scars it till today. Yet, the people of Kutch have only emerged stronger from the calamity. An array of Indian nonprofit organizations covered the region doing exceptional work to rejuvenate trade and empower the artisans of Kutch.
The artisans weave absolutely every imaginable type of textile, using hundreds of intricate weaving techniques, embroidery techniques, and dying techniques. Here we were privileged to meet one of India’s masters of Indigo dyes, Shyam ji.
The world of Indigo is an incredible one and I have been obsessed with this plant ever since I attended the Indigo Sutra conference in Kolkata.
The ranges of shades created with indigo are beautiful and varied. It is a fascinating plant possessed of the best qualities. It is used in agriculture instead of pesticides and was believed to protect the skin of those who wore garments dyed with indigo. During the dying process, the indigo is placed in a series of vats and comes to life with fermentation. The dyers speak to their vats, cajole them and even taste them to see if they are satisfied with the way it’s happening. It is both a science and an art.
Shyam ji was explaining that he only trusts his earth, as his earth has never required pesticides or synthetic seeding, and goes as far as to take his own grains with him when he travels.
Then we discussed all the countries he had been to, to hold his indigo workshops. He was very proud to say that he had been to Kuwait, and that he had given a workshop at the Bait Sadu!
(Images courtesy of Nur Kaoukji)
Magic Mashru April 12 2020, 0 Comments
Growing up in the Levant I was exposed to the beautiful fabric called ‘sayee’. A bright multicolored, striped fabric with a singular sheen, woven from a blend of cotton and silk, both matt but shiny, difficult to describe.
It could be found in every self-respecting Levantine household. My mother had ‘dishdashas’ made from it. It was used for about everything, ranging from furniture upholstery, curtains, cushion covers, quilt covers, book covers to tissue boxes. If you could cover it, you did it with ‘sayee’!
I was also lucky to visit Syria often, almost on an annual basis. My parents and godmother were interested by handicrafts. I was exposed to many of Syria’s talented artisans, including to the incredible ‘sayee’ weavers.
This fabric is the high point of my visual memory, so, you can imagine my surprise when I came across this beautiful striped fabric in India.
I had been offered a stunning bolster for my birthday that was made from the exact same fabric.
“Did you get this from Syria?!” I asked my friend, who on seeing the expression on my face knew that she had picked the right gift.
“No, no, this is local, I think it’s woven in Gujarat.”
That’s when I started my investigations! I searched high and low, asked every weaver, textile scholar, shopkeeper I knew if they recognized the fabric. They all had the same answer and story, it was ‘mashru’.
“Mashru was created by the Muslims. That ‘mashru’ derived from the Arabic word, ‘masmooh’, meaning authorized. As in some parts of the Muslim world it was frowned upon for men to wear pure silk. The Muslims introduced the technique of weaving cotton in the weft and silk in the warp. This allowed the silk not to be in direct contact with their skin, but allowed their clothes to maintain a shine, and as the Muslim men in India needed a fabric that was striking and ‘masmooh’ (authorized) that is how it started.”
I was intrigued and baffled. The story sounded like a fable. First, being from the Middle East I had never heard that it was forbidden for men to wear silk, and second did ‘sayee’ really come all the way from India to the Middle East? I mean of course, with the trade of the Silk Roads, it was possible.
Needing to find answers I invited a dear friend, Simon Marks, over. I knew he would be able to help, he knows India’s world of handicraft like very few others I know. He is fluent in Hindi and has traveled across India, living for a while in Bhuj. I was sure he would know.
“Of course Darling” he immediately replied, “book a ticket down to Ahmedebad, take a bus or a car down to Patan, and I’m sure you’ll find what you are looking for.”
I did that. The following few days I organized to fly down to Ahmedebad to see what I could find. Once in Ahmedabad, I was driven around by ‘Jonni’, Simon’s friend and excellent contact. I was able to visit every fabric vendor dealing in ‘mashru’ whom I could find. They all told me the same story about the origins of ‘mashru’ - that it was woven for Muslim men, that it was out of fashion, hard to find, and that whatever was available today was synthetic.
Different vendors taught us how to check if the ‘mashru’ was handloom or a machine made imitation. It was interesting, unfortunately, they were right. Handloom ‘mashru’ was difficult to come by.
Jonni told us we should make our way to Patan, that he knew several people who were still weaving it there. None of the shopkeepers whom we spoke to were of that opinion, they all claimed that the weavers of Patan just produced Patan ‘patola’ (another extremely intricate form of tie dying and weaving). Jonni took a wager and said that if he was wrong I could ask for the sum of my choice.
The day we traveled was Vishwakarma Jayanti, the day craftsmen clean and prepare their tools for a blessing ritual, and cannot use them on that day. Which meant that we would not be able to see any weaving taking place. Not the best day to visit, but we had no choice!
We arrived at Patan, a small town which was the capital of Gujarat in Medieval times. The architecture of the place is incredible. Small village type brick and mortar , and what appeared to be almost European style town-houses. We asked a few people from the town if they knew any weavers, they all pointed us to a lane. A tiny lane that led to a building where we were told that the main family dealing in ‘mashru’ lived. This family gathered all the weavers’ finished products and exported them to different cities across India.
We walked down this muddy lane and came face to face with a bull who didn’t seem to mind so much that we were there. We noticed that right up against the windows of the houses, there were small cushions of the type weavers who work on narrow looms sit on, but no sound of shuttles going up and down. It was an important day, the looms were being prepared for annual blessing.
We saw an old man who looked over 80 collecting water from the tap outside his house and preparing to wash his tools. We asked if we could come in and speak with him. He didn’t seem very interested in us, barely looked in our direction and gestured towards the door. We followed him through a tiny courtyard into his magical house. He left us standing in the middle of the house, sat on the floor and vigorously continued to polish his tools.
The tiny house had low ceilings. On top of the narrow loom on the right of the entrance, the ceiling was lower, and a wooden tub seemed to project from the ceiling above on either side. They sensed that we were puzzled. Without looking up the man said “those are two other looms, upstairs, my brother’s and his wife’s.”
His sister in law suddenly appeared behind us. Old, energetic, not at all surprised by our awkward presence in their home. Her husband appeared at the top of the stairs that led to the floor above. He sat on the stairs and watched us, silent and smiling, as though he were watching a spectacle unfold.
When we informed her about our quest to find ‘mashru’, she told us that we had come to the right place. ‘Mashru’ was the only thing they knew how to weave. They didn’t think that many ‘mashru’ weavers still existed - only a handful in Patan. That this was all they did, day and night, that no one else would, and that their children wouldn’t carry on with the craft. It was sadly true, as it was becoming too expensive to buy silk thread today. Once a year they only wove a few ‘thans’ of ‘mashru’ using real silk for the Indian clientele who still appreciated it. We told her how happy we were to find them, and that we hoped their beautiful trade would never come to an end. She smiled and jumped to her feet, and declared with excitement: “if I don’t weave too much, it would be a demonstration that wouldn’t go against Vishwakarma Jayanti”. She began a beautiful demonstration, while explaining the whole process and how to go about it. In Gujarati of course, almost as though she believed that she can hand down the skill to us.
I showed the wonderful weaver pictures of ‘sayee’ and explained that it was something I was familiar with but not from her area, but from Syria. To which she replied “of course, you know that fabrics travel far more than humans do, and from longer distances.” I was mesmerized. I didn’t want her to stop talking. I asked her if she knew of the story of ‘mashru’ being created specifically for Muslim men, and that the name ‘mashru’ came from the Arabic word ‘masmooh’ or authorized. She looked at me in complete confusion. She explained that Gujarat was an ancient port, and at one time was India’s most important port. That all the tribal people wore ‘mashru’, the women used it to make blouses, the men to make formal wear. No matter what religion, it was just a matter of being economically able to purchase it, and that even a woman with no formal education like herself knew that.
Finally she told us before she asked us to leave so she could get on with her ‘pooja’ and that “in Gujurati ‘mush’ means silk and ‘roo’ means cotton.”
(Images courtesy of Nur Kaoukji)
Khadi, Ahmadabad April 09 2020, 0 Comments
Khadi weaving is a government-subsidized industry created by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s. As part of the struggle for independence, Gandhi ji encouraged khadi cotton spinning and weaving to support self-sustainability throughout India. Today every main city has a khadi center, which purchases textiles from weavers all over India and sells it at a subsidized rate.
Khadi is a wonderful and versatile cotton cloth, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Its handloom weave feel gives it charm and it becomes softer after every washing.
The khadi center, we visited, was an old and sleepy one. The basements were large. You had to make your way through corridors with piles of neatly stored fabrics. What would normally have taken us an hour ended up taking the entire day. Every time we got anywhere, a wonderful lady and gentleman who were helping us would stop us and tell us: “first, a chai break!”. Chai would be served. We would all sit beneath whirring fans, examining the selection I had made, and letting me know if I had chosen the appropriate shades or not. It made the entire process very pleasant.
We purchased a few batches of khadi, took them to Jaipur and had them printed with our gold and silver sadu motif stripes.
(Image courtesy of Nur Kaoukji)
Jamdani, Phulia April 08 2020, 0 Comments
Phulia is located in West Bengal, a few hours drive from Kolkata. It’s a village of weavers who weave almost any type of handloom plain fabrics but specialize in the most intricate jacquard and jamdani textiles. Their meticulous weaving techniques produce feather-light enchanting fabrics, that are soft to the touch and discreetly ornamented.
In the 18th century the French weaver, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, developed the Jacquard programmable loom, a mechanical loom that works on a system of punched cards that compose intricate patterns and in modern times inspired computer coding.
Then you have another technique, Jamdani- blew my mind as it results in some of the most regal textiles I have ever come across. The design process which involves no mechanical devices is completely left up to the weaver’s artistry, who as he weaves plucks threads from the weft with a bamboo stick to create the motif. The motif or pattern is repeated to create a pattern that appears to float on the surface of the fabric. A masterful art form, that I felt very privileged to have been able to view and commission.
Both types are fine and appealing textiles and jamdani is also referred to as muslin. They’re discreet, their patterns tonal, their shimmering subtleties give the impression of being hidden secrets, they are also so soft to the touch that you worry they might vanish.
Phulia was mind-blowing, I’ve seen a lot of weaving, as for spooling it was a first, the way the weavers spool their thread when they weave is outstanding.
The entire area consists of different communities of weavers, but sadly, most, have had to give in to the power loom, the destiny of so many artisans. It was very special to spend time looking through their archives with swatches of the most incredible fabrics. I decided to develop a range of fabrics with them and loved every minute of the process. Prashant Ji, a weaver and son of a master weaver generously spent time with us to help me with the process. When I asked him which of the fabrics from the hundreds of swatches was his favorite. He rummaged and pulled out a short, ultra-fine muslin of multicolored threads, apparently of no importance or intricate design-wise. I looked perplexed. He told me: “the most talented designers come to me, they choose their colors, their motifs. We make them. In the end, we are left with hundreds of multicolored threads, I weave them into one piece that comprises all these different talents”.
(Images courtesy of Nur Kaoukji)
You can read more about Nur's adventures in Phulia in last year's article about Phulia
Desert Chic April 05 2020, 0 Comments
25 Miles into the Desert is a collection inspired by Gertrude Bell and her love for the Middle East and its dessert. As a free spirit of the early twentieth century, Bell's love for travel and adventure was encapsulated by the bohemian lifestyle of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Caftans were very popular at the time, and designers experimented with both shapes and colors. It is fascinating how history constantly influences future generations in different ways.
Gertrude Bell March 31 2020, 0 Comments
I have always been drawn to the story of Gertrude Bell. A woman who went against all odds, all forms of conformity. Driven by passion she found herself in the Middle East, learning Arabic and crossing the harsh deserts of Arabia by horse, accompanied solely by her trusted guardian Futouh.
She was completely absorbed and enamored by the Arab culture, their sense of hospitality, their Worldliness, their warmth and wisdom. Sheikhs whose paths she would cross on her voyages fell for her charm and appreciated her sense of adventure. They trusted her, discussed the turbulence of the region with her in detail and respected that she would listen, intently, not trying to control or persuade them with her own political agenda. She worked with them, and not against them. Or so she believed at the time.
People were in awe, confused and scared of her. She had no fear.
‘A wonderful person, not very like a woman’, is apparently T.E Lawrence’s opinion of her. One of her best friend’s describes her as a mad creature whom she first came across in Constantinople, Bell had apparently arrived straight out of the desert with all her evening dresses, cutlery and napery she insisted she needed on her wanderings.
A peculiar and brave creature, marginalized by other influence- seekers, put aside and forgotten after her untimely and strange death. Buried in Baghdad, Gertrude managed to stay where her heartfelt content, in the Arabian Desert.
(Images courtesy of Penguin and Google Images)
One Big Family March 29 2020, 0 Comments
Being from a Lebanese family, like many ex-pats in Kuwait, we were a single the parents and the kids. We didn’t have an extended family, it sounds sad, but it actually wasn’t. Thanks to my parents we had a huge family of friends. Many of their friends felt like our parents and grandparents. I felt this, particularly in Ramadan.
Our house was not a Ramadani house. No one fasted or participated in the rituals. Yet, everyone, I grew up with celebrated every part of it. My strongest memory of Ramadan was having fetour (break of fast) at Noor’s aunt's house. The adults will be always chatting, and the kids would be sitting together. Her aunt would have a lot of fun stories.
One Ramadan she had a very abundant spread of food, that felt something straight out of a cartoon. There was one Ramadan that I decided to try fasting, and I barely made it. I didn’t think I would survive. Walking into her aunts I smelt the strong waft of Bukhoor (incense) and food. She gave me fresh laban (buttermilk) and sweet dates to break my fast. The food was particularly delicious that day, specifically the rice, I can still taste it.
(Illustration by Deborah Difiore)
Mama Hajiya's Tashreeb March 27 2020, 0 Comments
Like any recipe given down from one generation to another, this one does not have exact measurements for the ingredients.
4-6 Cloves of garlic, chopped finely
500 Grams of Lamb Stew Chunks
2 Cans of Chopped Tomatoes
2 Carrots, cubed
2 Potatoes, cubed
1 Small Pumpkin, cubed
Black Eyed Peas
1-2 Pieces of Iranian Flat Bread
How to make it:
Wash the meat, a pro tip is to wash it with vinegar. Then rub it with the machboos spices, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and salt.
In a stew pot, add the quarter onions and chopped garlic cloves. Let them brown and then add the meat and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until it is fragrant.
Create a space in the middle of the pot, and then add the tomato paste and the chopped tomato. Stir everything together then cover the meat and tomatoes with water and increase the heat to medium to high heat.
Once the water has boiled add the carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, and black-eyed peas. Lower the heat and let the stew simmer for one to two hours. Once ready, the meat will flake easily.
Remove from the heat and add pieces of bread and submerge into the stew so all the bread is coated. Let it sit for a bit and then serve. Sehtain!
(Illustration by Deborah Difiore and recipe given by Hadeel AlTamimi)
A Kid's Delight March 26 2020, 0 Comments
Growing up I had the luxury of living five minutes away from both of my grandmothers. Ramadan was special because six days of the week we would have futoor (break of fast) at my paternal grandmother’s house. On Friday’s we would go to my maternal grandmothers for futoor.
Mama Hajya’s, how we called our paternal grandma, house was exciting because we would have tashriba every day. Tashriba is a local stew with soaked bread many households have it daily during Ramadan. Our tashriba is different because it's made with Iranian bread as opposed to irqaq bread.* Most Kuwaiti households make it with irqaq which is thin, Iranian bread is thick and doughy.
I had amazing tashrib and an array of drinks such sugary Vimto and gamerdeen (apricot perserves), and tart laban (buttermilk) during Ramadan. After we had our meal the adults chatted. I would watch Japanese Anime cartoons dubbed into Arabic with my brother and cousins. Another perk of Ramadan, I could have tea. It wasn’t caffeinated tea, but chai loomi (dried lime tea). I felt like a grown-up.
I was able to do all the things that I wasn’t allowed to do on regular days. Have tea, stay up late, and socialize with my cousins every day. Ramadan was colorful and festive. Every kid’s dream, especially mine.
*Recipe to follow
(Illustrations by Deborah Difiore)
Rangena March 23 2020, 0 Comments
I don't remember exactly when was the first time I had Rangena but I do remember that when I had it, it blew my mind away. I was around 11 or 12 years old, and could not stop eating it. The next time I saw my grandmother I told her how much I loved Rangena. Proceeding to tell me "you should always surround yourself with the things that you love. I will teach you how to make Rangena".
One afternoon I went to her large open kitchen with terrazzo tiles. We started getting the ingredients for the recipe. We had flour, cardamon, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As she was toasting the ingredients a fragrant nutty scent came out. She ordered me to get the butter from the fridge, located on its own nook (more like a throne) six steps above the kitchen. I was searching for the butter, but, for some reason, I could not find it. Embarrassed, I went back to her and told her I couldn't find the butter. She insisted that it was there, and for the second time I still couldn't find it. This leads her to come up, waddling up the stairs to the fridge. My grandmother opened the fridged stating "it's here" pointing at a huge yellow block of butter. From how huge it was, I didn't realize it was butter!
She took the whole block of butter, melting it over the flour and spices "this is how much butter you need for Rangena". As all the ingredients mixed and melted, we finally poured it over the sweetest dates. Rangena is a decadent type of shortbread best with coffee or tea. A dessert too rich for summer. As I was growing up Ramadan fell in winter, it was the perfect time to have it.
This memory with my grandmother reminds of her life lesson; "indulge in things you enjoy in your life" even if it has a huge block of butter.
(Illustrations by Deborah Defiore)
Movies to Escape In March 22 2020, 0 Comments
As we are spoilt with choice with content in the many different streaming services, sometimes there is a comfort in just watching something old or you have seen 100 times before. There are three movies that I always want to see when I need to escape...
Growing up we had Singing in the Rain on BTMX tape, and I have lost count of the number of times I've seen this movie. I love it so much that I own it now on Apple Movies. The story follows an actor and movie studio as it movies from the silent era to talkies. So bright and colorful, and it has so many amazing dance sequences.
Another movie we owned on BTMX is Gentleman Prefer Blondes. One of the original female buddy comedies, this movie follows two showgirls and their adventures on a cruise liner. The slapstick comedy in it is wonderful, and all the costumes are fantastic. Marylin and Jane just exude pure charisma in this movie.
If you know me well, you would know my favorite genre in anything gangster. My favorite television shows are Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, and The Sopranos. So naturally, one of my all-time favorite movies is Scorsese's Goodfellas. This epic story tells the rise and fall of an aspiring gangster.
If you haven't seen any of these movies, now is the perfect time to escape into them.
Moving Titles March 17 2020, 0 Comments
There are a few books that you throughout your life that really move you and change your worldview. For me, there are four titles that made me think about the world differently.
1. I've read Naguib Mahfouz's Children of the Alley twice, once during high school and then I had to reread it for a literature class in university. It is only when I read it a second time that I actually grasped what it was about. And once I did, my philosophy on life changed.
2. Jeffery Eugenides is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I went through his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Middlesex in a breeze. This epic novel spans three generations and two continents. A beautiful book, that should not be missed.
3. Another title that I had to read for a university was Shakespeare's play, King Lear. This play is about family strife, inheritance, and love.
4. To Kill a Mocking Bird is a wonderful coming of age novel by Harper Lee. In addition to this book being so great, the movie version is one of the few great book to film adaptation. Definitely worth the read and watch.
ecru's Soundtrack, The Beatles' Julia March 11 2020, 0 Comments
John Lenon wrote Julia for his mother, and wife Yoko celebrating their motherhood. A wonderful song, just in time for Mother's Day.
ecru's Soundtrack, Sanaa Al Kharaz's جابر أبونا من عمر February 19 2020, 0 Comments
Growing up in Kuwait in the 1980s and 1990s everyone used to watch the operettas that were produced for the National Day. This specific song, performed in 1981, whenever I listen to it sparks so much joy in me. It was sung and performed for the late Amir, Sheikh Jaber Sabah Al Ahmed. Every February I have to play it on repeat.
Back to the Future with Elle India February 18 2020, 0 Comments
We recently were featured in Elle India's "Back to the Future" in their February edition features section. We were honored to be featured with several Indian based designers we admire.
Arabic Coffee February 18 2020, 0 Comments
Whenever you have a guest or a visitor at home, you must serve him a cup of coffee or tea. A universal concept, but it has different cultural traditions in the Arabian Gulf especially when it comes to coffee. Arabic coffee is the brewed coffee of Coffee Arabica beans and most Arabic countries throughout the middle east have developed unique methods of brewing coffee and preparing coffee. Arabs in the Gulf brew their coffee usually with saffron, cardamom, cloves, and sometimes cinnamon. Even the way Arabic coffee is served is different. It is usually served in a della in small coffee cups called, finjans, usually a few drops at a time. If you don't indicate to the server that you want more, they will keep pouring you more. You have to indicate by shaking the cup, for them to stop pouring. If you don't, you will be awake all night!
We love the traditions that surround Arabic Coffee, we do not have finjans but we drink them from our Istikanas as we always love a little more coffee. And we created an ode to the della with our embroidered Della Charm and our Della Print. You can get our della print on our Stationery Box.
(Images courtesy of Google Images, Library of Congress, and Pinterest)
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk February 05 2020, 0 Comments
The Victoria & Albert Museum's latest exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk focuses on the Kimono as a dynamic evolving icon of fashion. The Kimono was created in the 17th Century Japan when the growing Japanese merchant class had a desire for luxury. The Kimono has been a strong influence in fashion since then.
The exhibition starts on February 29th, 2020 and focuses "to show it as something dynamic". Which has a strong effect on both fashion and film. The beauty of the Kimono is the body becomes irrelevant. It highlights a woman's shoulder which is a radical idea in womenswear, as it is not a restrictive garment.
This is definitely an exhibition I would love to visit, as we love making Kimono shaped garments.
(Sourced from The Guardian and Images courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum)
Serpentine Dance Girl January 29 2020, 2 Comments
Several years ago I was attending a Renoir exhibit in the Royal Academy of Arts in London. At the same time, they had a loop of the silent film of the dancer Loie Fuller dancing on display. The film was mesmerizing. Why do I remember it today, because I recently stumbled on an article on Loie Fuller.
Fuller was one of the pioneers of modern dance. She started her career in vaudeville in Chicago. Loie developed her routine using improvisation, she created the Serpentine Dance. After not getting the recognition at home, she moved to Europe. In France, she became the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement. This short tinted black and white silent film embodies the spirit of the art movement of the time.
Flora & Fauna Tiles January 21 2020, 0 Comments
Who wouldn't love a little magic in their bathroom!? These florae and fauna just add that little extra fantasy in one of the most used rooms in the house. Each of these bathrooms has it's own fun mood from the tiles. Here's to a little fantasy in each part of your home!
(Images courtesy Pinterest, Eaton Fine Art, and House & Garden UK)
Pyjama Chic January 15 2020, 0 Comments
There is nothing like the thrill of getting home from work, and getting into your coziest loungewear. The women from the early 20th century knew how to do it. With their immaculate sets of pyjamas with matching robes. They looked elegant and sophisticated even when they were relaxing at home. These magnificent women are an inspiration for our pyjamas and their matching robes and kimonos. Here to lounging elegantly.
(Images courtesy of Pinterest)
ecru's Soundtrack, Pink Martinin's Sympathique January 13 2020, 0 Comments
We do love to work and create new collections, however, after Christmas and New Year's it takes a bit of time to get back into the groove of things...
White Christmas December 16 2019, 0 Comments
I recently watched White Christmas, for the first time. Given that I love old musicals, I don't know why I've waited this long. The fantastic Michael Curtiz movie stars Rosemary Clooney, Bring Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. I absolutely loved everything about this film, but especially the customs, the set design, and the wonderful dancing by Vera-Ellen. The colors were so saturated and bright. If you haven't watched this yet, it's the perfect time to stream this festive musical.
(Images courtesy of Pinterest)
ecru's Soundtrack, The Ronettes' Sleigh Ride December 04 2019, 0 Comments
One of my all-time favorite bands is The Ronettes. Their song Sleigh Ride is just the right song to get you into the Christmas spirit. To continue this festive mood, you must listen to Phil Spector's album A Christmas Gift for You.
Christmas Sale Wishlist December 02 2019, 0 Comments
Christmas is around the corner and while looking for gifts, I couldn't help but think of things that I would like to gift myself. My selection consists of a few things for the home, and a few things for me to wear. Here are my Christmas picks: Turtle Candle Holders, Moroccan Bride Rug, Yellow Ikat Print Placemats and Napkins, Red Leaves Velvet Bag, The Palma Vest, and Moonstone Bangle.
Coney Island's Funny Face November 18 2019, 0 Comments
While visiting Coney Island last month, I noticed all the fun signage around the amusement park Luna Park. Especially the large smiley face at the different entrances. It turns out this face is the Steeplechase Funny Face. Steeplechase Face first originated in the Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. After the park closed down, the sign is still used in Coney Island, and now found in Luna Park.
(Images courtesy of Hussah Al Tamimi)
ecru's Soundtrack, Simon & Garfunkel's Leaves That Are Green November 13 2019, 0 Comments
The weather is getting cooler and it finally feels like Autumn in Kuwait. Even though we do not experience leaves changing color, we can still hear Simon & Garfunkel singing about it.
Patterns, Textures, and Colors in Fall November 11 2019, 0 Comments
I recently came back from a wonderful road trip around New England to catch the Fall Foilage. I was struck by the different shades of the trees. Forests were magically transformed into one color or a gradient of different colors. Another thing that amazed me was how many textures and patterns I found around me. There was a tree that had all these mushrooms growing on it, having its own natural repeat pattern. Af if it was wearing its own woven sweater. Nature warms up the atmosphere with these warm and firey colors when it's getting colder.
(Images courtesy of Hussah Al Tamimi)
Hollywood Occult October 09 2019, 0 Comments
The Victorian era saw a rise in people's interest in spiritualism, theosophy, and secret societies. During the turn of the century people began to practice channelling, clairvoyance, Astrology, and past lives. This was due to the mixture of Eastern and Western spiritualism. This kind of thinking and interest flourished in Los Angles during the 1920s. The city attracted many occults to start their own systems of alternative spirituality. Film stars immersed themselves in the occult as many paid annual fees to astrologers.
(Source a Steam Punk Opera and Images Courtesy of Eve Magazine, Edward Steichen, and Pinterest)
Spooky ecru October 08 2019, 0 Comments
It's always fun to seasonally decorate your home. However, you don't want to go overboard and it look like a haunted house. Luckily we have a few items in our online shop that would make your Halloween party spookily chic. You can decorate your table with our black marble pieces such as the Black Hand, Turtle Candlestick Holder, and Black Marble Star. As a back drop you can have our African Eye Running Fabric, and on the flooring our Eye Jute Rug.
ecru's Soundtrack, Frank Sinatra's Witchraft October 07 2019, 0 Comments
It's October, and that only means Halloween spirit all around! The first thing we do when the month hits is get our playlists ready to get in the mood. Here's Frank singing about Witchcraft.
In the Mood for Autumn September 30 2019, 0 Comments
We All Scream for Ice Cream September 23 2019, 0 Comments
ecru's Soundtrack, Elton John's Bennie and the Jets September 09 2019, 0 Comments
After watching Rocketman this weekend, all we've been listening in the office is Elton John. The crowd favorite will always be Bennie and the Jets, which always make me regret quitting my piano lessons. The movie is definitely worth watching if you are an Elton John fan, it is visually stimulating and gives you all the backstories to your favorite songs.
Plum Time August 29 2019, 4 Comments
We are in the midst of plum season, which starts in June and ends in October. We got in that color mood with our latest Ikat Kimono and Robes. The colors in this vintage Encyclopedia pages are quite inspiring.
(Images courtesy of Pinterest and ecru)
The Hollyhock House August 19 2019, 0 Comments
The Hollyhock House is Frank Llyod Wright's first Los Angles commission, which is an ode to California and it's natural beauty. Built between 1919 and 1921 for Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress, in the California Modernism style. The heiress told Wright to incorporate her favorite flower the Hollyhock in the designs of the house. The house was commissioned to be the centerpiece of a cultural complex on Olive Hill, which would have included a theater, cinema, artists residence, and commercial shops. Hollyhock is special because of its bold art deco designs and modernism, in addition to being the first Modern American Architecture that has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.
(Images courtesy of Architectural Digest)
ecru's Soundtrack, Fleetwood Mac's Dreams August 07 2019, 0 Comments
Just ahead of a long Eid holiday where we will be relaxing, we will be listening to the dreamy Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album. Here's Dreams to set you in the mood for your vacation.
Berry Crumble July 25 2019, 0 Comments
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of flour
1 cup of oats
½ cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of flakey salt
½ a cup of pecans
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
½ tablespoon of cinnamon
½ stick of ice-cold butter cubed
Preheat the oven to 120c. Use the heat from above with fan option.
Toss the berries with a little bit of flour, half the ground ginger, half the cinnamon, squeeze of lemon, and lemon zest and place in a heavy skillet and bring to a slight simmer.
Meanwhile, toast some pecans.
In a bowl, place the remaining flour, spices, sugar, salt, oats, and brown sugar. Use your hands to crumble the butter into the dry ingredients.
Place the crumble along with the toasted pecans on top of the berries and put into the oven until the top is crispy and golden and the sides of the berries are bubbling over. 15 to 20 minutes usually.
(Images courtesy of ecru)
ecru's Soundtrack, Rupert Holmes' Escape July 15 2019, 0 Comments
After a beach holiday, it's usually hard to get back in the groove of things in the real world. So Rupert' Holmes, "Escape" can mentally take us back to the beach.
Ibiza's Fincas June 26 2019, 0 Comments
There is something so comforting about Meditarianian architecture. It is the warm colors and textures. Ibiza's Fincas exude this warmth. Fincas are traditional cottages that were built on agricultural land. A lot of these old cottages have been converted into beautiful homes in the Balearic islands. Wouldn't it be amazing to live in a magical Finca all summer long...
(Images courtesy of Home Edit, Pinterest, Rue Magazine, and Style Files)
Seville Architectural Magic June 19 2019, 0 Comments
I recently visited Seville, Spain and it is such a magical place. Seville is the Andalusian capital, filled with history and it is architecture clearly reflects that. As it was under Islamic rule for several centuries, Islamic influence can be seen in the architecture. I loved walking down the streets under the arches peeking into the lovely courtyards, dreaming about my future home being built with Andalusian flair.
(Images courtesy of Hussah Al Tamimi)
ecru's Soundtrack, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Band's A Taste of Honey June 12 2019, 0 Comments
Summer is here and we are loving the slower pace of life that comes with the season. A perfect sound for this kind of living is some fun Latin music. Enjoy your summers.
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