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sera helsinki was founded in 2016 in ethiopia with only eight women who had been knotting rugs their whole lives. the initial steps of sera helsinki involved lots of trial and error, but together they were able to create a process and minimalistic designs that their artisans could bring to life. today they employ more than 500 artisans and shepherds, most of whom are blind or disabled.
from the very beginning, the founder knew that she wanted to work with the most vulnerable groups in ethiopia. every fifth person living in extreme poverty has a disability. disabilities are also highly stigmatized in many african cultures. sera helsinki wants to show that these people are talented members of their communities and can create beautiful, sought-after products.
location - ethiopia
materials - sheep's wool
craft - traditional rug weaving
"we truly believe that transparent design drives change for a more inclusive and accessible society"
celebrating traditional crafts
wool thread is handmade with ancient traditions in the highlands of ethiopia. these villages are rural and very poor. spinning is often a side income, making it possible to raise artisans and their families above extreme poverty.
every woven sera helsinki rug is a result of months of teamwork. if one person is sighted, she can lead those that might be visually impaired. it takes one month for a team of five people to produce a knotted rug of 6 m². rug-knotting involves a unique technique in which thousands of knots are inserted and individually tied to a base or rug foundation.
the making of a knotted rug begins by stretching cotton warps on the loom, running up and down. the wool thread is taken through the warps one by one by hand. the warps lie vertically on the loom, and the thread is tied around two cotton warps and cut by hand. one square meter weighs around five kilograms.
discover our sera helsinki collection
all pictures in this article were taken from sera helsinki's official website. illustrations made by yvonne rausch.
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