boudoir on the left, just before the backyard gate
Available soon at
+46 31 71176 21
This is, of course, Nathalie lété’s showroom in the 3rd arrondissement, in Paris
By the way, available at Abc Carpet and Home (888 broadway, New York, United States)
And soon at Sue Fisher King, (Sacramento, San Francisco United States)
Amongst others. Please enquire within for more details.
He was a big lad, good build, certainly one of those who practiced sports at some college in the USA.
“you’re pulling my leg” she said with her Southern England accent.
“Hey lady, you say things like that to a guy where I come from…”
“I mean, you’re joking”
“Hey! No joke! Vegan leather!”
Yes, it looks like leather it, might feel like it, but there is no animal in this.
“Wow…” she said touching the surface of the cushion in a totally new way: “un-be-lie-va-ble” she said
“how come? I mean, you don’t look like the vegan kind of chap”
“A guy need his proteins…but I can change my diet if you think I should…”
“pure curiosity, of the innocent kind, if you see what I mean?” she interrupted.
“Gotcha!” he said a bit like a baseballer checking the bowler who just kicked him out of the game.
This scene could have happened at the trade shows where Po! Paris has been exhibiting the new “vegan leather” collections.
Why on earth do this? vegan leather? Do we need vegan leather? There is enough beef skin being brought from the food industry to have a vast supply of leather.
Well, at Po! Paris we take no notice of such practical facts.
There are of course many reasonable arguments against the hyper industrialisation of the meat industry, but one should admit we just happened to get involved, and simply accepted the challenge. We had the chance to be there when a group of fabulous women were asking something super positive to happen and we just contributed with our point of view.
The tree grows in their land, the art of making the oldest known fabric is practiced by men of their country since records were ever put in writing. All we needed was to come up with an idea.
“We have barkcloth!” said one of the women during that first meeting in Kampala. She was black, he had more of a pink complexion, feeling somehow inadequate, inquiring what local material could be used for making new products.
“Barkcloth!” they all repeated, till someone started with a drum and the italian coordinator was flying on a field of arms laughing, everybody going crazy, the American waiting for his turn and the pink man hoping the approaching storm will get him out of it.
Yes, barkcloth. You can’t say “no” to barkcloth. No one can.
You have to use it, touch it, make something out of it.
Beautiful material, the art of one tribe in Uganda. Anybody in contact with this material feels compelled to do something about it. Cultural heritage of humanity, the Unesco people felt compelled to say.
And here we are. No missionaries; pink, but, nevertheless, no missionaries.Invited to do something together with this group of women who have the greatest enthusiasm in the world.
We were just captivated by the material and the people so we developed Mutuba skin, a derivative of the barkcloth through a special process to make it viable for, let’s say, a “durable use in the modern household”. We’l let our sports chap say that. It just sounds better.
Available soon atAbc New York 888, Broadway NY 10003 NEW YORK Usa +1 212 473 3000 www.abc.com
Le Piscine, National Gallery of Modern Art of the city of Roubaix opened its doors to a retrospective exhibition of Nathalie Leté’s works on the 21rst of March 2015.
An international crowd of dedicated followers merged in with the locals, finding comfort in the colorful opening ceremony after a journey across a black and white city severely lacking contrast.
The visitor can be easily overwhelmed by the south Flanders landscape: plenty of empty and available space with abundant sky, invariably gray; the vague reminiscence of sea shoreline accents the wind gently deposited between the buildings are a reminder that the only available escape route is far away. Red brick storehouses and factories stand empty in what once was the Kingdom of wool of the “belle-Epoque” feeding generations of weavers and soap makers believing the good times would never come to an end end, till “la grande guerre” brought them back to reality.
Stepping off the train in such a setting, the traveler suddenly feels the urge to share his deepest feelings with the bar tender while Jacques Brel fanatically underscores his state of mind in the little radio on the shelf below the liberty style mirror – but there is no such place in sight where he can unload his burden.
By contrast, Nathalie, wearing a pink fake fur coat, welcomes each single visitor to her world of colour, fantasy and some crude details of central European fairy tales. The museum, a beautifully restored Belle Epoque swimming pool with its glazed turquoise tiles and white marble statues, now a National Gallery, is perfectly in tune with the event.
Compositions of traditional french “charcuterie” hang lugubriously from meat-packer hooks like savagely murdered dolls; a chicken prepared for the Sunday roast, decorated with Hungarian style folk patterns sits enigmatically in a glass cabinet, icon of a sacrificial beast ; pictures of bourgeois families from postcards of times long gone, recoloured for the occasion, depict children dressed as butchers showing off the daily production of fresh meat from the family butchery;
The tripes of the slain bad wolf lying beside a kitchen sink bring a positive note to the room. “A friend told me the wolf represents the father figure” whispered Nathalie over my shoulder, before welcoming yet another editor and a group of friends from Paris.
A short corridor, the interior of a gingerbread house, is decorated with elegant limited edition plates by Astier De Villatte and Po! Paris‘s cushions, amongst other products designed for various editors she is particularly fond of.
Further down, in a larger room, tapestries hang from the wall , depicting a world that would make Lewis Carroll feel like a rationalist geek and revise large sections of his works, along with his choice of tea. Toy cars, a 1950ies version of mickey mouse puppet, all sorts of insects and toy guns, embroidered and woven on an intricate woven carpet -from a distance and a in certain light- easily mistaken for a newly restored renaissance gobelin from the crown’s royal workshops of the Paris left bank.
I proudly took a generous amount of pictures and sent them to our weavers in Albania, knowing this could be a turning point in their towns history.
The fruit of their passion for embroidery and weaving , centuries of precious craftsmanship, so close to extinction, coupled with a natural penchant for colours, now hang from the wall of a national museum in France, and, what’s more, in Europe’s cradle of the best weaving industry.
Their city can be proud of this group of women from what has been considered a “sensitive” neighborhood.
“Nineteen” Leta once told me when I asked how many people work in the cooperative workshop she operates. A social business in the middle of the “city of walls” where our driver once refused to come along with me to the house because no men from the family were around. I still recall him saying “tu non capisci niente” (you don’t understand a thing) referring to the traditional Albanian codes of conduct he believed were applied to the letter in the area, locking himself in his BMW and leaving me to walk alone to the garden where a single loom stood on the terrace.
That garden is now a two story workshop hosting six looms and a spinning machine to make yarn from the best chosen wool from mountain sheep. A workshop open to the local families providing training and work for skilled weavers, producing items worthy of a National Gallery.
Walking through a corridor leading to the butchery I let myself sink in the underwater world of tropical seabeds of ceramic corals and shells, and more of that extraordinary weaving.
Yes they are going to be proud, and so are we, to be simply somehow part of the story.
“Thank you for coming” she said at the breakfast table at the hotel were the admirers and friends had spent the night after the long celebration that followed the opening.
Thank you, Nathalie, for making it possible with such talent.