The art of being TUAREG.
Just a regular day in the Miista HQ, when Georgie (Senior Designer) entered our office with the biggest ring I have even seen in my life. Talking about attention.
OK, I was well impressed. If you shake it, it will make the sweetest sound because of the desert sand locked inside. I might have also said What the hell is that. In both cases Georgie kindly ignored all the comments and introduced me to rare Tuareg artefact collector Cordelia Donohoe.
Her artisan brand is called Azul Tribe. But my heart really stopped when G. told me two things:
- That the main source of inspiration for Cordelia are the Tuaregs.
(Miista's latest collection is inspired by them, as well!)
- The sand that is inside her ring, is from the deserts they roam.
Seriously, I'm planning to buy it and I'm going to give up on Spotify Premium. Like there's no point. The ring will be the only sound I listen to.
You don’t go to school and learn the craftsmanship of the jewellery making. It is something that Tuaregs learn within their tribe. The youngest can make decent looking rings, necklaces and baubles at the age of 9. How good of an artist you are is not determined by your age, it’s the eyes. You have to have a perfect 20/20 vision to become jewellery craftsman. It’s easier to get the point if you see how detailed these designs are. Happily, Mohamed brought the precious samples of his work for all of us to see.
Miistas Autumn/Winter 2016 collection HARMATTAN is entirely inspired by the lifestyle and aesthetics of the Tuareg tribe. With our shoe collection we celebrate their unmatched craftsmanship. So, all three of us, Me-Ori, Georgie and Miista’s founder and designer Laura Villensein, felt well prepared for meeting Cordelia and Mohamed. Truth is, Tuaregs are not very well known and here are a few facts we’ve all learned from our new friends.
They don’t use modern technologies and make each piece by hand, moulded and carved into each individual piece.
I like the simplicity of the forms that are being created. There’s a lot of detail in the silver but it’s quite pure, elegant, adapting to the modern taste.
Although, every piece looks a little bit different because each piece is made by hand.
What’s amazing is the way the cooperative runs their workshop. You’d be surprised, Cordelia says. It’s really on the level. They are really professional, trying to do something proper business wise, rather than just doing it. Workers are committed to the CO OP: they pay into it, and they get out of it. What is important is that everyone wants to be the best since the better they get, the more projects happen within the cooperative. Often it means building a new school or providing warm water. It’s a traditional way and everybody are working to keep up the good tradition. Sadly, there aren’t many Tuareg cooperatives like that left. Similar ones on industrial scale mostly located in the heart of Marrakesh. People sell the jewellery in shops there, but often it’s not even silver. Mohamed sells the co ops jewellery and does demos of how artisans work. You can learn more on Facebook: Association Timidwa.
Mohamed’s caste is of metal smiths but what we found particularly interesting is that the women of the artisan caste traditionally make leather.
Although Tuareg seems to be still exotic, Cordelia told us that apart of Miista there is also another designer brand taking the inspiration from the Tuareg. It’s Hermes! They do the Tuareg belt buckle:
Miista derives inspiration from a certain region, culture, or individual. This season it was matrilineal Tuaregs—specifically their high level of craftsmanship. It’s really hard to find modern-day artisans or craftspeople and it was truly amazing to meet ones, in the heart of Dalston. The home of Miista. xx