Meet the creative blending Tunisian traditions with modern design.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED NOW?
I’m from Bizerte, a city in North Tunisia, and I’m currently living in Tunis, the capital city.
HOW DID YOU COME ACROSS THE AMAZING WORK OF THE TUNISIAN CRAFTSWOMEN?
I’ve met the talented craftswomen during my visits to the crafts villages, cities and villages markets and also during trade fairs of artisan creations. Sometimes I find about good craftswomen by word of mouth.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT TUNISIAN CULTURAL TRADITIONS AND CRAFT – THEIR DESIGNS AND HISTORICAL INFLUENCES ETC?
The Tunisian cultural tradition is rich with the different civilisations that went through the country as well as the people who have perpetuated its brightness throughout times.
Today, the Tunisian heritage has the print of each one of them whether they are Numidians, Romans, Carthaginians or Arab Muslims.
Cumulated traditions, manual dexterity and creative intelligence are based on and blended with the handicraft product be it utilitarian or decorative, traditional or modern. It has a strong presence in everyday life.
TUNISIAN LOCAL ESSIA CHALOUEH DESIGNS CONTEMPORARY FURNITURE AND HOMEWARES WHICH ARE HANDCRAFTED USING CUMULATED HERITAGE, TRADITIONAL METHODS AND NATURAL MATERIALS.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOUR ARTISANS WORK WITH AND ARE THE DESIGNS TYPICAL TO TUNISIA OR DO THEY HAVE A MODERN TWIST?
Generally, my artisans use natural materials from animal fibres such as
wool, animal hair and leather, plant fibres, or wood such as Tunisian olive tree wood.
In my designs, I play on the combination of different Tunisian materials and textures. Then I have them woven by artisans to design my beanbags, stools, or cushions, blending the traditional authenticity of the artisans with a resolutely contemporary style.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK WITH POUFFY DESIGNS BENEFIT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY IN TUNISIA?
I collaborate with talented artisans spread all over Tunisia. Every region is renowned for the know-how of its artisans, for instance, the regions of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine are specialists in traditional wool weaving. Through our activity we’ve created direct and indirect jobs with the collaboration of rural artisan women.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW REWARDING THAT EXPERIENCE IS FOR YOU AS A BUSINESSWOMAN?
My experience led me to learn a great deal through my acquaintances, the meetings, collaboration, exchange of experiences and know-how. Patience and passion are the words that best characterize my approach and my personal work.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO VISIT IN TUNISIA?
Every single region in Tunisia has its appeal and history. I really love Sidi Bou Said, Djerba and Hammamet.
TOP TRAVEL TIP IN THE REGION?
Travellers should explore historical monuments, as an experience it is extremely enriching. And more importantly, taste the Tunisian dishes and traditional sweets, a real delight.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON FOR THE FUTURE?
The passion that drives me in my work, always urges me to progress and go forward to explore new international markets and to promote our expertise as well as Tunisian handicrafts.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Tunisian-inspired collection; Essia Chaloueh.
CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT Traditional weaving methods used in Essia’s contemporary design; hand-stitched vegan leather stool with redwood; Tunisian craftswomen at work. Tunisia is particularly steeped in artisan history with influences from Numidians,...