Based in Somerset West, South Africa, just outside Cape Town - Coral & Hive is a female-founded, hand-loomed rug company that I have collaborated on a range of exclusive HADEDA one-off rugs with this autumn. Back in February I visited the workshop for a design meeting with founder, Jeannine Birch to learn more about the process and pick out a palette for the range. We had met previously and immediately bonded over a shared ethos and passion for artisanal textiles and craftsmanship. I hugely admired her commercial approach to ensuring these heritage skills thrive for years to come, providing viable work for skilled weavers whose talent has gradually been overlooked in woven textile manufacture for machine looming techniques.
Using hand-spun, all-natural African yarns such as karakul wool, cotton or mohair they are then hand-loomed into beautiful rugs and floor coverings that use skills that have been passed down for generations and changed very little through the centuries.
The studio has some of the biggest looms in Africa, still built and operated using traditional methods, allowing them to create bespoke and unique designs to custom dimensions, up to 5m x 6m.
Together we have created three, one-off designs on a slightly smaller scale. I wanted them to be 'textile artworks' that could be hung on the wall, or layered over one of our woven grass mats. They will be launching at the Antropologie on King's Road pop up next week if you'd like to see them in person. Here is a sneak peek of the colour palette we have used and the rugs being woven:
Next week I will also be hosting a 'Live at the Looms' Zoom tour of the Cape Town studio to allow a UK audience exclusive access into the whole process to give an understanding of the work, skill and beauty in the raw materials that go into each design. Head weaver, Nazeema will be showing us around, she has been weaving for 30 years and has an incredible knowledge and infectious passion for what she does.I hope to see you either at the pop up, or on the Zoom tour next week. You can also follow on Instagram Stories, as I will be sharing snapshots from the pop up from the 17-27 September.