Desert meets Desert
Modern masters of bold, geometric design – sisters Lily and Hopie Stockman, of Block Shop fame, have dedicated themselves to a very particular aesthetic that marries sun-drenched Californian cool and Rajasthani artisanal perfection.
The Stockman’s designs are inspired by the architecture and palette of their three home bases: downtown Los Angeles, Joshua Tree and Jaipur. Their business Block Shop quickly amassed a cult following for its iconic designs and transparent process, and has since grown into a lifestyle brand with limited edition collections of scarves, woodblock prints, linens, pillows, kantha quilts, hand-woven dhurries and wool rugs.
Founded in 2013, Block Shop is a direct collaboration between the Los Angeles-based sisters and a community of Indian master printers, dyers and weavers over eight thousand miles away in the desert state of Rajasthan. The journey began when, in 2010, Lily moved to Jaipur to study for an apprenticeship. Researching natural dyes and traditional block printing, she was introduced to Viju, a fifth-generation printer living and working in Bagru. Out of that meeting a beautiful collaboration was born.
“We began with block prints, which I thought of as large, unstructured paintings on cotton and silk. So Block Shop really started as an art project.”
Lily left Bagru, but Hopie then visited six months later and fell for everything that Bagru had to offer – welcomed by Viju’s family and the local community, Hopie too saw the beauty and potential of the ancient block printing technique and Block Shop the business was born.
Block Shop is an ethical textile design company, investing 5% of its profits into community healthcare and empowerment initiatives in Rajasthan. This is important to Lily and Hopie –
“We believe in small-scale production, fair wages for workers, and healthy working conditions. We embrace a decentralized supply chain in order to support the small family business ecosystem in our partner communities in India.”
Block Shop recently released their first collection of pigmented woodblock prints which takes inspiration from the revolutionary Art Deco carpet designs of Brazilian-French artist Ivan da Silva Bruhns. Using a warm, dusky palette of ochre, rose, coral, mauve and rust, they created the collection to have the visual effect of an orchestral decrescendo. Hopie says:
“It’s our first time printing with colored pigment; our first collection was all block printed in black, but this collection is full of dusty corals, rusts, peaches, and pinks– a very Rajasthani desert palette. Even though our paper is made from upcycled cotton pulp it absorbs color differently than fabric, so it took us several trips back and forth to Jaipur to get it right. Most of our colors needed to be mixed with white in order to achieve the right opacity.”
You can find out more about Block Shop Textiles by visiting their website.