I have been working in Laos & Cambodia for almost 20 years now. My journey started much earlier than I eventually set up a proper retail shop in Singapore. I am familiar with the environments and have also seen many changes in these countries.
Against the backdrop of their economic growth, it has become more and more important to create demands for carrying on with the traditional arts and crafts. For me it is my commitment to the weavers in Laos & Cambodia to continue creating my works in collaborations. Thus, it is my mission to work together with the traditional artisans in efforts for them to carry their crafts into future, and for me to create something unique of my own.
There is a notion that made-in-Asia are cheap and of lesser quality. I would like to defy it by finding the finest artisans to create my collections with. There are more to Lao and Cambodian craft industry than producing souvenirs.
Cutting corners by using ‘fake silk’ and low-quality dyes to make cheaper things is ruining their true craftsmanship and traditions that do exist. By choosing to work with skilled artisans to transform their quality into our modern living, we would like to preserve and evolve their arts.
Handmade is another concept of my endeavours. I am intrigued by what a pair of hands can produce, and how well they can do. Unlike machines, the production by hands is never perfect – it has flaws (or’ handmade marks’), which make each piece unique. No two pieces are the same.
When it is made by machine, being well made is a norm (or easier to achieve). When you see the hand-woven silks that are so well woven, the beauty of the textiles shines through. It emulates the warmth of the weaver and its one-of-a-kind beauty. There is no comparison.
Power of forming a collection
Evolving traditions is what I most enjoy in the process of my creative work. I have a clear vision of what we can achieve together by translating my design ideas into their traditional weaving.
My mission #2 is to create my own collections. In order to evolve traditions, we need to revisit the traditions and create our own editions. This process of forming my own collections is very important; it is a transformation from weaving to a story. This is how the weavers’ works have become Emiko’s collections.
My mission #3 is to engage people in our cause. It is all about growing the community. If we have a cause, we need to spread it and connect people in our cause. We hope our shop facilitates the opportunity for visitors to get to know about the wonderful crafts and traditions in Laos & Cambodia, a bit about their cultures, and how we can share the community for arts & crafts through our shop. I hope my collaborations with the artisans will help the traditional work find its way into future.
Through my column on this website, I share many stories about our artisans, collections, travels, and the community. Passion goes around!