Flore de Taisne and Edmund Le Brun decided to set up Ishkar after living in Afghanistan together for three years. While Afghanistan has come to be known around the world for conflict, poverty and corruption, the duo want to share a different and more positive side of Afghanistan and other countries suffering from war.
Collaborating with local craftsmen in Syria, Afghanistan and Mali, ISHKAR has brought together a collection of objects reflective of the rich heritage, craftsmanship and natural beauty of countries whose wars have left them isolated from the outside world.
“Through our curated collection of pieces – each made by an artisan whose practice has been affected by war – we hope to provide a window onto countries known for their rich culture long before they were known for war.” Flore
MADE SLOW TO LIVE LONG
All over the world, craftsmen are coming under threat from mass production. In countries experiencing conflict this threat is all the more acute. Through ISHKAR we want to create a sanctuary for craftsmanship in its purest form: valuing slow production over fast, the human hand over the machine, natural materials over the synthetic.
ANCESTRAL SKILLS, MODERN DESIGN
All too often age-old craftsmanship is combined with age-old design. We believe craftsmanship is at its best when guided by contemporary design and imagination. That’s why many of the products we sell are the result of collaborations between top international designers and craftsmen on the ground.
CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
We only work with craftsmen in countries that have been largely cut off from international markets by conflict and insecurity. We are committed to helping craftsmen grow their businesses in some of the world’s most challenging economic environments.
The vast majority of our products are purchased through local NGOs, ensuring a proportion of the money we invest is recycled back into development projects ranging from providing craftsmen with educational opportunities, right through to supporting local schools and healthcare clinics. The amount going to charity ranges between 5% of the wholesale value of the product for jewellery pieces, right through to 80% of the retail value for some of our carpets. On each of our product pages we explain what this percentage is.
SPREADING POSITIVE STORIES
With so few positive news stories reaching international headlines about countries undergoing war, we believe it has never been more important to share stories and products with the power to inform, surprise and inspire. Outside of our products we do public talks and events to show sides to war-torn countries rarely seen.
KEEPING SKILLS ALIVE
All over the world ancient craft traditions are being lost as factory made goods replace the handmade. The threats facing craftsmen in countries at war are even more acute. ISHKAR seeks to work with craftsmen in fields at particular risk. We believe it is crucially important to keep these craft traditions alive for future generations.
Image credit: Ishkar