Trudging through the Kyrgyzstan mountains in search of artisans producing shyrdak felt rugs is all in a day’s work for Laura Aviva, founder of the nearly eponymous online trove of handcrafted homewares, L’Aviva Home.
“I initially discovered the Kyrgyz tradition of shyrdak felt art at the Fashioning Felt show at New York’s Copper Hewitt Museum,” Aviva recalls. Her “new-found obsession” led to a search for master craftsmen who could produce the fabric – and she found them. The result is a collection of striking rugs (first picture, price on request) and pillows (from $345) featuring a minimalist mosaic design that follows traditional motifs, rendered in soft shyrdak felt.
The site boasts two other sections – “Textile” and “Object” – that cover everything from Bolivian hammocks handcrafted by women in the Amazon ($485) and a bestselling collection of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets, featuring sheep’s wool and cotton blends hand-loomed in the Atlas mountains (from $615), to intricately engraved copper trays from Uzbekistan (second picture, $435) and art-deco-style glass Granada lanterns (third picture, $515).
But while Aviva may not be in a remote mountain range scouting out new artisans at present, she isn’t resting on her laurels at her base in New York. Plans are afoot to expand into fashion. A collection of one-of-a-kind vintage ikat scarves made from silk crepe de Chine is due to launch in spring 2012, and a range of ponchos made by the artisans behind the site’s hammocks will join L’Aviva’s eclectic offerings this autumn.
Ever sticklers for detail, L’Aviva Home and its Kyrgyz partners are also planning to buy their own sheep in the Kyrgyzstan mountains, so as to be able to quality-control the wool for the shyrdak products. “What started off as a bit of a lark has led to an incredible immersion in Kyrgyz culture,” Aviva muses.