Collaborating with Aïssa Dione is a dream come true. Her approach in reviving Senegalese textiles while preserving the incredible know-how is something we are proud to offer on Bayali.
For those of you who may not have heard of Aïssa Dione, her story is worth reading about. Born to a French mother and Senegalese father, Aïssa has been playing with both cultures to create, in 1992, Aïssa Dione Tissus. Together with a group of Manjack weavers, emigrated from Guinea-Bissau, they thought of a way to modernise traditional Senegalese textiles for the world of interior design. There and then began a dialogue between threads and colours, local and unique, tradition and contemporary, plain and patterns…
Of course, it was only natural for us to delve at the heart of Senegalese textiles, understand what they tell about the country, the culture, and the stories of the weavers.
Known as ‘Pagnes’, these textiles are full of history. The roots of hand-woven textiles originate from Egypt but has been an important element of the West African cultures. Often kept in the family for generations, these textiles are used for all kinds of ceremonies: It covers the head of the bride at a wedding, during a baptism, the body of the new-born is wrapped by his/her grand-mother, it is also used for funerals… These are highly spiritual objects, serving a very meaningful purpose within a family.
These textiles are also extremely special since only a certain number of people know the art of making them. Being a weaver is a heritage passed on from father to son in the Ndiago population from Mauritania and the Manjacks from Guinea-Bissau. The know-how takes years to master and is taught to young boys very early on. They start as assistant to weaver, arranging the thread, carrying the thread rolls and tidying up to prove themselves and earn their right to become weaver themselves.
Each weaving loom requires minimum four people to work together and synchronise their movements. One prepares the threads on the loom, one combs the threads, one helps to pass the beams while one weaves. Together, they can create a textile of 15 to 20 cm wide.
Always trying to adapt traditional techniques to the needs of contemporary markets, Aïssa Dione replaced original 90cm wide looms, with 140cm wide looms in order to use them for upholstering and commercialise them. She also created a unique dictionary of 33 colours to adapt these traditional textiles to the Western world.
Pssst: Have a look at our Tabaco dotted placemats ! This unique shade is a mix between Tabaco and camel. The perfect addition to your table for you neutral tone lovers out there !
Aïssa also introduced the concept of ‘Faux-Uni’ to Senegalese textiles. Literally translated as ‘False Plain’, it focuses on texture rather than patterns. ‘Faux-uni’ are intrinsic and deeply complex textural works. The beauty lies within the depth of the threads woven together. It’s essential a dialogue between threads and colours. When Aïssa told us this, we were sold and had to create something to honour this technique.
But don’t be fooled! It may look like a plain colour from afar but the closer you look at it, the more colours you see. Our cushionsare the perfect example. And…! The great thing about these cushions is that we specifically designed them to work perfectly with our Uzbek Silk cushions! So get creative and give your sofa a new look.
Of course we didn’t just stop there and also wanted to include a kimono, because how could we not? Inspired by Japan where Aïssa spent a lot of time, this piece is designed with the traditional Japanese kimono cut and made with 100% organic cotton from Senegal. A match made in heaven!
Fascinated by the elegance of minimalism, Aïssa learnt about the art of Japanese silk ikat textiles. It made complete sense to create a piece that fused her Senegalese roots and her love for Japan while also showcasing the ‘Faux-uni’, Aïssa’s playground.
Pssst: It is my personal favourite piece to wear to chill at home and enjoy my matcha in the morning sun!
This capsule collection, however, really started because Aïssa was curious to explore the world of table linen. Something we also wanted to offer on here. Together we thought of ways to create placemats and napkin sets that worked both individually, together and of course with our Uzbek ceramic dinnerware.
The Ochre and Safran placemats are an ode to the streets of Dakar, beautiful terracotta shades reminding us of the streets of Dakar.
We also created a line with three timeless colours, Ecru, Camel and Black. Perfect to work together or separately, with your existing dinnerware sets. I personally love matching the Smokey Black with my favourite Persian blessing fruit bowlfrom Uzbekistan. The ultimate contemporary yet classy table.
So if you haven’t already, I would suggest to go and have a look at the entire collection ! We definitely need to tell you more about the know-how behind this line, but let’s keep that for next time, shall we?