Young brand Kobeiagi Kilims based in Ljubljana, Slovenia set themselves the goal to revive the lost tradition of carpet weaving. The result: hand-woven wool rugs designed to be used daily and loved for years to come.
Kobeiagi Kilims founders Ivana Blaž and Nina Mršnik, an architect from Bosnia and a designer and illustrator from Slovenia, first met at the university. After living and studying all around the world they came back home with the shared love for beautifully made objects. “We walk around with the designer’s view on everything, so literally everything is beautiful to us,” tell the designers. “Ugly, interesting, boring or exciting are all beautiful in certain moments and we are kind of high observing everything around us and taking it as a starting point for discussions.” The idea of starting the ‘kilim revival’ project had been on their minds for quite some time before it ripened; but after their visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they saw that almost nobody continues to practise this traditional craft these days, they decided to step into action. They set themselves the goal to revive the lost tradition of carpet weaving.
Kilims are traditional hand-woven wool fabric from the Balkans and were once a ubiquitous feature in the homes of former Yugoslavia. “In old Bosnian houses, they are everywhere. One single room can have a kilim on the floor, another one to cover a sofa; it’s placed on the wall behind benches, so it’s warm when you lean on it; and then it is also used as a kind of a curtain,” tells Ivana, who grew up in Travnik, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But like so many other traditional items, kilims have somewhat fallen out of favor with younger generations. Therefore Nina and Ivana made their mission to bring them back, by implementing fresh designs based on their illustrations, but remaining the same attention to detail and traditional craftmanship.
Kobeiagi kilims are handwoven by the skilled weavers of Lejla’s workshop, small community of women in Bosnia, located in the Bosnian town of Visoko, who to this day continue the production of kilims. They use natural colours and exclusively local wool, which is renowned for its superior quality.
“We source the finest wool from the long-fleeced sheep locally. The wool is then taken from rough bale to coloured thread within Visoko. It has to be spun, plied into thread and dyed before our weavers can begin their work. Every part of our kilim weaving process takes place in a 20 km radius, meaning they are truly a local product.”
The kilims are literally made by hand, one by one. A kilim of 100 cm x 70 cm takes one week to realize, while the largest kilim with the dimensions of 200 cm x 300 cm takes approximately six weeks.
Though the designs are modern, the manufacturing process takes into account the fact that everything is still made the traditional way: “We send the designs to Lejla, the driving force behind the workshop, and she tells us which parts would be difficult to do for the weavers. So we adapt the design, go through the color scheme with her, then our color guy dyes the wool specially for us, and the weavers start hand-weaving,” say Nina and Ivana.
The subtle yet polished palette – seasonless hues such as cream, blue, mustard, black – allows Kobeiagi Kilims to be at home in the city and the suburbs, in the country and by the shore. The first collection was inspired by people surrounding designers. “They are really very differentiated group of people and we combined their preferences and our projections of what would suit them, so the range consist from more traditional “Lejla,” named after their weaver captain, to the “Baja,” which resembles an abstract art piece and was made for Ivana’s mother in law’s and Nina’s mother’s houses on the Slovenian coast.
Currently preparing new collection, designers hope to make kilims popular again to prevent the craft from dying out. “There are really few women left that practice the kilim weaving technique in Bosnia,” they explain.
“Our aim with this project is to preserve the craft of weaving kilims by creating work for our weavers, and teaching the younger generations this skill and showing them there is a future in this craft.”
Kobeiagi Kilims transcend today’s ubiquitous, basic homegoods in favor of the exquisite and the enduring. The skill and dedication put into creating the kilims guarantees that they’ll last for more than a century.
“Our goal is to make beautiful objects that connect generations, the pieces that will be passed down from generation to generation.”
Photos: Ada Hamza & Kobeiagi Kilims
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