The stil collection of hand-woven mohair rugs is a collaboration between Antwerp-based brand M_AAH and South African textile studio FRANCES V.H.
M AAH offers pure home objects that are handmade by the passionate and handpicked for the thoughtful. M AAH draws inspiration from the pure yet essential void between all things: the pause between words, the silence before notes, the negative space on photographs. Their designs are guided by the stillness in moments and the emptiness in spaces.
Founded by Murielle De Ceunynck and Marie van Tieghem, two colleagues turned friends with a shared passion for travel, culture, architecture, and perfectionism. They are connected by their mutual love for sourcing, craftsmanship and discovering new artists. Together they seek designs which they feel to be slow, pure, and honest. Intended to last and be loved for a lifetime, passed down to the next generations. It is with this belief at the heart of M AAH that they started the conversation with Frances van Hasselt; South African textile designer focused on developing timeless, collectors’ pieces of hand-woven mohair textiles made by woman artisans in the Karoo.
Having grown up on a family farm in the Karoo that owns one of the oldest mohair studs, Frances has always had a deep affinity with this natural fibre and the origins of the threads. South Africa, and more specifically the Karoo, is home to most of the world’s mohair farming. Mohair, one of the world’s most ancient, exclusive, and sustainable natural fibres is one of the few, uniquely local luxury products.
FRANCES V.H focuses on the strengths and over-looked skills that are unique to the socio-economic make-up of South Africa’s textile industry. With a completely local supply chain, they help to create livelihoods and empower women artisans in remote areas whilst preserving culture, indigenous knowledge, and traditional craftsmanship.
Janine Maasdorp weaving the 'pause in time' rug.
Every step of the process; from spinning the yarn to carefully trimming the finished rug is carried out by hand by women in remote communities whose skilled workmanship give the rugs their unique quality. The quality and scarcity of the raw material, its unique African heritage and exquisite handcrafted workmanship, combine to create the most beautiful rugs which reflect their Karoo origin and the unique character of both maker and designer.
“We feel strongly that a sustainable, circular economy does not start in the studio; The process starts with rain, the delicate ecosystem of the land, the role of herdsmen, the importance of healthy animals to produce quality mohair. From raw fibre we move into the process of washing, cleaning, dyeing, and spinning until finally the yarn ends up on the loom. In many ways weaving and finishing is the last few steps on an intricate supply chain.
Once you become attuned to the elements, actors and skill needed to get from farm to fabric you make differently, you think differently, you do not need more and more, you are selective and respectful of the timelessness of that piece. It turns a simple rug into an invaluable homemaker, passed down to the next generation who too will build homes and weave their own memories into it.”
The importance of colour, layers and tactility is fundamental to both makers. For M AAH colour and texture work together to create moments of calm, still, breath, space, and timelessness. For FRANCES V.H who takes their making and design inspiration from the Karoo, where nature is the defining element, it informs every aspect of what they create. In the desert there is nothing to distract one from noticing the light, the scorch of the midday sun, the slow relief of an evening breeze and the velvet, vast skylines. The Karoo is home to mohair, and as such the fibre itself expresses the characteristics of its environment. To showcase the land, the animal, the fibre, and the hands that make each piece, celebrating texture is fundamental to achieving this. In this rug Collection called stil, the irregularity of the yarns and weave conveys the subtle shifts and changes of the Karoo’s vast horizons and the different layers in Murielle’s paper-artwork.
The stil collection is a collaboration of designers, makers, artists, artisans, the land that supports us, the welfare of animals and the celebration of creating pieces that encapsulates everything which is slow, pure, and timeless.