New Finnish project Ragamuf produces colourful rugs large enough to cover furniture. They are made by Syrian women in Turkey.
More and more designers are looking for ways to mitigate the refugee crisis. Earlier this autumn Helsinki Design Weekly featured Finnish Saana & Olli brand that hired a refugee to sow its latest product. Ragamuf is a new Finnish project aiming at a better world, founded by designer Tuula Pöyhönen and entrepreneur Martta Leskelä.
Ragamuf’s main product is a rug that can be stretched over all types of lounge chairs. Anyone can make this rug anywhere because it does not require a loom or a machine to make. Weaving the rug is rewarding because each maker can also be a designer by choosing the colours and patterns.
Pöyhönen and Leskelä have taught rug-making to Syrian women in Turkey near the Syrian border, in a centre for Syrian widows and orphans and in a Turkish centre for women.
Now a sample collection of Ragamufs is ready, and Tuula Pöyhönen tells us what it’s all about.
Where did it all begin?
I was at Finland’s Central Arts Council’s residence in Edinburgh with my two sons intending to study the world of fabulous Scottish knits and wool fabrics and to develop my own angle to them. In the farthest corner of a local textile store, I found a couple of bolts of dusty openwork patterned knits. The pattern had unusually large holes, which is hard to find these days. As I re-entered the store, I was thinking about my boys with their iPads sitting on the ugly sofas of the residence. In that moment I had a great idea of redressing the sofas. I ended up buying a bolt of lace pattern instead of traditional Scottish fabrics. I am familiar with rag rug strips as material as well as with sports fabrics. This is all about combining those. The strips are knit to a stretchy net that can be flexed over any three-dimensional object.
What are the objectives of Ragamuf?
With Ragamuf, you can give a new life to an ugly or well-worn chair or lounger. Usually the most well-worn chair is the best-loved. Technology provides mercy. The long fringes dissolve the pattern so that the smallest details or errors do not catch the eye. The result is safe and sympathetic much like a soft toy or a pet.
How did you end up with this product in particular?
It combines the interests of both myself and Martta. Due to the Syrians’ situation in Turkey it felt natural to start work there. Martta was living in Turkey with her family and thus had local contacts, and she was familiar with humanitary work due to her old job at Finn Church Aid. My idea for the sofa rugs needed an enabler and makers. Pieces just fell into their places.
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