Making

MATTER Turns 5

A couple months ago, the team got together to talk about how we should celebrate our 5th birthday. We’ve always been big on birthdays, from pants parties to a big farewell to our shophouse home in the tailor’s district of Chinatown. But this one feels more significant, and we wanted to go beyond our usual revelry. The goal was to twofold: to create something that best represented our 5 year journey together, and to gift something that would actually be useful to our community.

Ideation

We started with the idea of a beeswax wrap printed with our signature motifs, toyed with the idea of a sustainable travel kit – a handwoven or block printed pouch of reusable straws and utensils, and we even dreamed up a special curated birthday dinner that would feature local ingredients. It was 3 hours (yes, really) of intense discussion before we came to this decision: a range of block printed Travel Wraps. One side with the 5 signature motifs we began with, and the other with a word that we felt was significant and relevant to a year in our journey.

With all the ideas we could think of, we realized the importance of having our signature motifs be a part of this milestone celebration. We were coming full circle by going back to our roots of a curative philosophy inspired by tradition. We believe in products with story and soul, and it is with this philosophy that we uncover heritage prints from the archives of our artisan communities with simple yet compelling stories.

Going Back To Where We First Started

Taking our 5 signature prints, we redesigned them in a larger scale to celebrate their own uniqueness. Magnifying them to suit a larger canvas was no easy feat, from altering its design to the challenging hand block printing process. Khushiram, a fifth generation artisan, and his team of carvers had to create a larger and heavier block than they were usually accustomed to. Printing with a larger block also meant more difficulties in the process: specifically getting an even dye coverage.

Traditionally, block print designs are intensively repeated. Every block has a printer’s mark, a little line carved onto the block to use as a guide for the artisan to know where the next repeat should go. With this range of Travel Wraps, such tradition went out the window. The nature of the large-scale prints and arrangements made it so that the artisans innovated a new way of marking: by pinning lines of white threads to guide the next placement. Even something as simple as a border design or the printing of the words in the centre required comprehensive precision to achieve.

This range of Travel Wraps are block printed with the 5 signature motifs we began with: Leharia, Trikora, Kirana, Falcon Footprint, and Mobi. Some of them are prints that have long existed in the archives of our ikat partners, some of them were designed in collaboration with our artisan partners. Either way – with these beautiful stories being told over the years, it is a resounding reminder of the how and why we started.