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atelier rwanda: natural dye in rwanda
jun 11, 2011
atelier rwanda: natural dye in rwanda


onion dyed cotton sewed with corn fiber
images courtesy of atelier rwanda

‘natural dye in rwanda’ by atelier rwanda is a research based project which explores the full cycle of natural dyeing in
the context of contemporary textile production in rwanda. the project, led by the designers eugenia morpurgo and
maya ben david, was based on collaboration with local basketry craftswoman, a class of tailors and a group of students
from the kist university of kigali as part of a workshop which recently took place in kigali.

currently, rwanda’s local textile market is based on imported fabrics. what is known as ‘african fabrics’ are designed mostly
outside of africa. the aim of this project was to explore design possibilities in the field of textile while using local fabric,
available techniques and the skills to support the identity of rwanda’s local culture.

 

anuaritte, one of the artisans modeling the scarf

in rwanda, there is no tradition of natural textile dying although the method does exist in the region’s basketry crafts.
the research surrounding this project was based on trial and error, where the team manipulated the processes and
techniques used in basketry to comply with textiles. 


onion dyed cotton with a ring made from vegetable fibers using agaseks k’uruhindu technique

the research was followed by implementation, where the ‘tailors’ designed a series of shoes and scarves. starting with the

local production of sandals, the aim was to combine the skills of the shoe maker with the one of the tailors to create new

possibilities in local shoe production. the scarves combine natural dyed fabric with vegetable fibers and basketry techniques,

to create a local textile with a highly tactile expression, which can be easily produced with available materials and methods. 


cotton dyed with mukurukumbe root

further, the objectives of the research program were: to promote efficiency and sustainability of activities related to natural fibers
developing innovation of products made in local materials; to improve the productive capacity of local handicraft; to strengthen
the role of craftswomen; to enhance the development and market of local resources and products; to improve the use of water supply;
to strengthen, within the architectural planning and design, cultural exchanges between europe and africa in order to enhance
resources and working abilities in africa.



cotton sewed with banana bark


shoe produced with onion dyed cotton and sole made from tier


tiers for producing sandals


making sole from tiers at kimironko market


conculting with the teacher of the tailor class


tailors at kumurindi market


process of extracting the color from the kimbazi flower


different plants which were experimented with

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication.

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