Whenever I’m in department store De Bijenkorf, I always go see the beautiful products of Wonderable. Wonderable is a Dutch brand founded by designer Carla Peters. Her home accessories combine the clear lines of western design tradition with age-old craft techniques from Asian and South-American cultures. This leads to exciting new designs full of references and commentary. The first collection went on sale in the Netherlands four years ago. Since then, Wonderable has grown and is now part of collections in home furnishing shops in 22 countries (including Germany, France, the US and Taiwan).
The handmade products are the result of a partnership with traditional craftspeople from Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Bangladesh, India and Bolivia. “By using their expertise we contribute to the creation of skilled jobs and prosperity for people in these countries. Countries where industrialised production is not yet widespread and traditional crafts techniques are handed down from generation to generation. Many of these techniques are unique to a small part of the world. The love of the makers for their work is a constant source of inspiration in the design of new Wonderables”, says Carla.
The craftsmen and -women operate under the guidelines of fair trade which means that they work sustainably, meet the environmental and safety standards established by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and include social improvement in their goals.
The glass in the Mirror-Mirror series of mirrors is real Peruvian craftmanship painted on the back with floral dessins, and the frames are crocheted out of various kinds of thread: thick woollen yarn, alpaca, and silver.
This leather bound notebook is from Bangladesh. The soft white paper in the notebooks is handmade from cotton waste. The woven elastic forms a unique and practical detail on these notebooks. What’s great about this notebook is that you can refill them time after time with any choice of paper.
All the vases in the Thai Blue series are hand-painted with traditional Thai flower patterns that call Delft pottery to mind. The resemblance goes back 500 years, to the time when Delftware was invented as a cheap substitute for blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. Old traditional techniques and experimental processes come together in the Thai Blue vases. The master painters sign each vase in their own language. The windmill, a classic Dutch icon, constitutes a humorous reference to the blue ‘Delftware’.
I love this pillow made of raw silk in herringbone weave with natural wooden beads
The Souvenir vases give new life to unsold Dutch tourist trinkets, manufactured long ago by a Thai ceramics factory for export to shops in the Netherlands. Boxes of these ceramics miniatures had been lying in a Thai workshop, waiting to be exported to the Netherlands after sales suddenly went flat years ago. Now they’re getting a new lease on life as part of these Wonderable vases. Each vessel is unique, thanks to the ever-changing selection of miniatures, and numbered with a hand-painted ceramic disc. The Thai makers sign and date each Souvenir vase inside the rim before sending the miniatures off to the Netherlands.