atelier rwanda: natural dye in rwanda
atelier rwanda: natural dye in rwanda 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 withdesignboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication.

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    design news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    482,808 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    privacy policy