An interior design project, Madda studio is spearheaded by Italian-born Maddalena Forcella who lived and worked with the artisans in Chiapas since 1993, before moving to Oaxaca a few years ago. In 2016 she joined forces with American born Marie Farneth who had experience of community development and homewares collaborations between artisans, designers, and architects.
For the two women, foremost in importance is to encourage the preservation of culture and lifestyle, the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge and skills, and to contribute to creating a sustainable work environment that delivers a stable income along the whole chain of production. Their commitment to tradition includes the exclusive use of the 500 year old Chiapa breed of sheep whose care as well as processing the fibre, lies in the hands of Chamula women. The women wash the fleece with local plants and tubers in order to retain its natural sheen and deep, saturated colour fleece is dyed. Subtle nuances of shades of grey are achieved by selecting, carding and mixing diverse colours of fleeces.
In comparison with this natural process, Maddalena Forcella finds industrially washed and treated wool ‘opaque and lifeless’. When she does use colour the natural dyes are processed by her from plants and flowers, not extracts. All the wool is hand-spun by women using the ancient spindle and whorl. It is precisely the irregularity of each woman’s hand and the varying tensions in the spinning that yield the rich textures that give this process its heart and soul. Weaving is done by men in family workshops in Chiapas and Oaxaca using the treadle loom that was introduced after the Spanish conquest. A visible cotton warp is dyed to interact with the neutral wefts. The making of larger rugs is achieved by joining together woven strips.
This issue, Selvedge readers have the chance to win a Madder studio Nuno pillow. Their Nuno felt combines highest quality Merino or Alpaca wool with silk and the pillows are hand sewn and reversible. The natural tones and reversible design make the Nuno pillow a timeless and elegant piece. Madda Studio classic Nuno pillow, worth £270. Enter here.