There are some stories that are more intricately woven than others, that take a little longer to tell. Our final collaboration this year, S&B x Pippa Small, requires the telling of one such tale.
You may have seen the bright fuchsia shop on Westbourne Grove, London, stumbled across her work in the ABC Store in NY or Brentwood Country Mart in LA. But there is much more to Pippa Small's tactile jewellery than meets the eye.
It is true she is a renowned jewellery designer, but it is her unique approach to luxury and the history of adornment that caught our eye. Pippa holds a Masters in Medical Anthropology and her ever present interests include human rights among minorities, as well as finding ways of protecting indigenous knowledge and techniques throughout various developing countries.
Her jewellery company, Pippa Small, has become a channel for these interests and contributes to addressing some of the issues that exist around these topics in development studies. One of the most remarkable aspects of Pippa's jewellery rests in how, and by whom these pieces have been crafted. Her work embodies one of the truest examples of what can be defined as 'ethical luxury'.
Welcome to our latest collaboration,
Jewellery for your table, hand made in Afghanistan...
S&B x Pippa Small
A Journey Into Afghanistan
In many ways this is the element about Pippa's work that resonated with us at S&B. The concept of sharing as a community and creating a sense of togetherness, is not unlike what we aspire to create at the table.
In honour of that, this Christmas we invite you to adorn your table.
Interview with Pippa Small
How would you describe your aesthetic?
'Ancient, tribal and organic forms.'
What initially brought you to Afghanistan?
Who is you're design hero or the biggest source of inspiration?
I think the craftsman and women of the world, who are not formally trained but have the most natural and inventive sense of design, colour and narrative. They make magic with their hands.
What is the experience like having built relationships with these artisans?
'I have worked with the graduate men and women to create lines of jewellery that reflect their rich traditional visual history. Every year I design two collections for the international market to ensure that men and women have jobs in creative and safe environments. My friendships with the artisans, I find very emotional. Every time I go I find part of my job is to listen to the stories everyone has to tell of every day life and its struggles, but so often with humour and no self pity. What I enjoy is that the Afghans are very much a people with a strong oral tradition and with that comes a desire to have a proper conversation, to talk about things deeply and from the heart. This has kept me going back.'
What is the process like working with these artisans who are simultaneously important contributors to their culture, yet often disenfranchised and underprivileged?
'What I love about Turquoise Mountain and the work they do is that they have found a way to give the young a sense of self confidence, to be creative, to see your work which draws on tradition being exported and appreiciated in other countries, to be able to show another face of a country too long dominated by war. I am very proud of the work we do there.'
You are always traveling to far away places for work, where is the place you go to for some down time?
'The Indian countryside, a small village where there is an old fort to stay in. The nights are quiet and dark but for the sounds of the chapatis flipping and the families chatting around the fire at dinner. The days are warm and busy with herds of animals going out for grazing. I also go out riding and watching birds and loving the peace and quiet of a rural, traditional place.'
At S&B we aspend a lot of time discussing the importance of sitting at the table, being together with the people you care about. What was it about this ethos that drew you to working with us ?
'The way the workshops operate in Kabul, as in every part of the world where I work, the artisans gather together and chat, gossip, laugh and tease each other as they work. At lunch time a huge plate of rice and meat is placed on the floor and everyone sitting on the floor around it, shares the meal together...this is an invaluable experience.'
If you could have a dinner party with 5-7 people of your choosing, who would you invite, and what would you make?
'I'd invite David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, the Obamas, Satish Kumar and Georgia O'keefe all united by a love of the land... serving vegetarian of course.'
As it's the season for wishlists, what's on yours from S&B?
'I have my eye on the hand made ceramic bowls and plates with that
beautiful deep blue glaze and gold rim.'