From Albania, for Tokyo, with love

We told them :”we have it dark blue”

They said “Lovely, but no thank you” and nodded.

So we said: “ah, we can do it in light blue”

They said “lovely, but no thank you”

So we said: “how would you like to be?”

They answered simply:

“take the red of that cushion,

the purple of the other one,

mix it together, that is how we would like it to be”

“I see…I’ll tell the weavers,

I’m sure they will do it nicely”

Then another one said:

“Take the purple from that cushion,

the green from the other,

and the red from that one up there,

mix them together!

That’s how I would like it to be”

“I see, we will tell the weavers,

we’ll see what they can do…”

Then they sang a song that sounded like “Mah Nà Mah Nà”

We all asked “Japanèse?”

“No, Italian!”

Apparently a song written by an italian for a swedish film.

You can check the story out here: http://www.procrastin.fr/blog/index.php?2006/08/31/107-muppet-chaud

If you are hanging around in Tokyo and urgently need a carpet for yoga or the Friday prayer, here’s the address where to find one:

MAHNA MAHNA CO.LTD
8F 5-7-17 Minami- Aoyama, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 107-0062 Japan
Enquiries at +81 3 3409 5423

If you feel Tokyo is a long trip away, just give a call or e-mail

Po! Paris, +33 1 4205 8008, paris@po-paris.com


teresa

America at last ! (part II)

continued  from America at last ! (part I)

There she was, Drande with her smile and blue eyes, the questions I could never understand, and her sharp sense of humour, next to Teresa, the mother, her strong fingers always in the wool, knotting, weaving, the traditional catholic scarf covering her head.
teresa
Then Leta, the daughter, who had leaped more than two generations ahead, responsible of the women community center of the area.
Sometimes Ana was there too, Leta’s friend and colleague working for the local Ngo dealing with gender orientated social issues.
No man in sight.

Our meetings always ended in a good laugh, drawings scribbled on a loose piece of paper between two piles of coloured wool. A Turkish coffee, and an innocent hand shake.
I would later find my driver smoking and smiling leaning on his BMW in front of Kafe Vivaldi.

This time it was different. The husband was home. We had to talk lead times for the American order.
I was offered a customary raki with the coffee. I couldn’t understand the details of the long story I was told, sitting on the couch in the kitchen.
It was about a man from Turkey who had been going around taking all the wool from the villages.
I tried to picture the man with a wicked smile and escaping carrying bags and bags of the wool that we needed for the American order.
Casually asking if the problem had been solved, Ana spoke of an alternative solution.
Negotiations were going on with a village in Serbia where a producer was to bring a load full of wool of top quality.
I finished the coffee. Ana grabbed the cup with her usual energy and checked the remaining content on the bottom. « It will be okay, she said » putting it back on the table.
With such solid evidence I emailed America to reassure everyone.

On Easter Monday, I am told the Serb never turned up.
The text message was short but precise : « cannot deliver on time ».
Albania, another one of those moments. One never gets used to it. I simply emailed America again dreading the consequences.
On this last trip Aida, from our office in Tirana, is with me. It is dark and late, an unusual time to pay a call to someone.
We push the gate open and notice the peculiar warm light from the house. Every room is full of piles of orange and red wool, cushions in each corner, four looms under the plum tree, ten ladies of all ages working actively.
And four holes in the ground. The foundations of the future workshop.

Leta comes and greets us. She is tired, anxious. Everybody has been working hard, little sleep. Her husband is there, for moral support. No one wants to be in the way. Cold soup and salad, no time to cook till the order is ready.
« I think we are going to make it for Tuesday », she tells me.
She also shows me the prototypes of the new bags, also developed with Nathalie Lété.S05NTL11-sacs-tapis

I remembered again why I kept on working with this amazing country. The people are just to good to be true. No life without passion. You got to give them that.
And they love Nathalie’s designs.

These cushions are changing things in the community. Families get together to achieve a common goal, put aside differences, men accept that their wives don’t serve dinner because their work is more important to the household than rules.
The foundations of the new studio are the proof that they believe things can change.
And Po Paris is glad to be part of it.

Po Paris

As we write we know the cushions are on their way to be delivered. Nathalie Leté’s cushions will be on sale in Anthropologie in the United States and the United Kingdom starting from June 2012.
Please enquire for any other retail stores carrying this item in Europe and Australia (yes, Australia)