Ones to watch

Prestige Hong Kong - - CONTENTS -

Kenyan, hand­made, ar­ti­sanal and sus­tain­ably pro­duced, Kahoko are de­signer rugs with a dif­fer­ence. The brand’s Hong Kong–based cre­ative part­ner Kate Jones met Kahoko founder Laura Cop­pen through a mu­tual pho­tog­ra­pher friend. First came a Hong Kong ex­hi­bi­tion with New York–based artist Au­gust Kro­gan-Ro­ley, who de­signed sev­eral rugs, then Jones be­gan sell­ing the brand through her ar­ti­sanal-goods store, get.give. “We found that we shared the same val­ues and as­pi­ra­tion for sus­tain­able craft and bring­ing it into the dig­i­tal age,” ex­plains Jones, “and when Laura asked me to come on board as a cre­ative part­ner it felt like the nat­u­ral next step.” Cop­pen, who used to live in Kenya, says that the brand con­cept — heavy tex­tures, earthy neu­trals, blacks and ab­stracted graphic pat­terns — was cre­ated to­gether with the ar­ti­sans. Now hues in­clude yel­lows and reds, all nat­u­rally dyed, giv­ing new edge to the styles. “I looked at the ac­ces­si­ble lo­cal re­sources and skills to en­sure this was en­hanced ver­sus changed. It seemed log­i­cal to have a con­cept that cap­tured both what was pos­si­ble in Kenya and what was de­sired by our cus­tomer,” says Cop­pen. “This is our over­all goal, to em­power ar­ti­sans and the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion of mak­ers.” “Peo­ple like the Gil­gil weavers are im­por­tant, as they pro­vide the com­mu­nity with the abil­ity to take con­trol of the qual­ity of their lives, al­most like a sort of so­cial bub­ble that can op­er­ate out­side of the po­lit­i­cal bar­ri­ers that peo­ple are com­monly faced with,” Jones adds. The duo fore­see mod­est ex­pan­sion with a fo­cus on sus­tain­able life­styles for the com­mu­nity. Thanks to new col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists, brands and ho­tels such as Ryse in Seoul, Kahoko’s de­sign think­ing is be­ing pushed, which “keeps all as­pects of the busi­ness fresh”. Work­shops in­clude ones in the Rift Val­ley about three hours out­side Nairobi. “There’s a lot of change hap­pen­ing with for­eign in­vest­ment and new in­fra­struc­ture, but also a lot of nat­u­ral re­sources be­ing stripped away,” says Jones. African de­sign might go through trend cy­cles, but a brand like this aims to be here to stay. What’s been a great evo­lu­tion is that cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly ap­pre­ci­at­ing the value of slow goods, adds Cop­pen. Since it takes more than six weeks to get a Kahoko rug cus­tom made, clients ap­pre­ci­ate they’re buy­ing “an item that’s one of a kind, with a rich story at­tached to it”.


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