ISHKAR: Craftsmanship to change perspectives
We chat with our new guest curators to discover how they change people's lives.
At ISHKAR they create economic opportunities for craftsmen in war zone at the same time they help change perspectives. Now they wanted to share their favourite artworks with KOYAC.
When and how was ISHKAR founded? What's the idea behind it?
Flore de Taisne and Edmund Le Brun launched ISHKAR in 2016. Initially ISHKAR was a platform for artisans working in conflict zones where there is neither the money, nor the demand for high end craft. The idea was to increase economic opportunity for artisans while helping to shift people buying the crafts perspectives about the countries the artisans are working in.
In the past three years ISHKAR’s model has developed into one of all-round experiential retail. ISHKAR traces pathways across the world’s least understood countries connecting people through craftsmanship, art, events and travel. With so few positive news stories reaching international headlines about countries undergoing war, it has never been more important to share stories, experiences and products with the power to inform, surprise and inspire.
You generate and impact on the lives of the craftsman you work with, how do you find them?
We work with a combination of independent craftsmen and women and NGOs such as Turquoise Mountain, who train and employ craftsmen. Generally they are the same skilled craftsmen that made ISHKAR’s products in the first place, but since we have grown there have been some artisans who have now come to us. One particular example is Saeeda Etebari, an inspiring jeweller and designer who created a contemporary collection for us.
You also offer tours to various destinations, what do you think makes them special compared to any other average tour?
Travelling with ISHKAR is an act of archeology – it demands brushing away accumulated layers of preconceptions and misperceptions in search of hidden gold. Visiting truly ‘off the beaten track’ regions with award-winning artists, photographers and writers in order to reveal sides of countries rarely seen by the outside world. We just got back from our first trip to Bamiyan in Afghanistan with the photojournalist Andrew Quilty, it was a great start so we are excited for the future (see photos below).
Just like KOYAC, your sales channel is mainly online, what are the benefits you have experienced from that?
Selling products online allows us to reach a broader and more diverse audience. However, we also do quite a few pop ups and have a showroom in London as many of our customers like to touch and feel the products and hear about how they were made.
‘No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes’ by Anand Gopal. In our view this is the best book to understand the conflict in Afghanistan, and why the country is where it is today.
Swimming in the crystal blue lakes of Band-e Amir on the most recent ISHKAR explore trip!
Croot... you need to try it to understand.
And in your case ... a material
Lapis Lazuli. A stone that was once so exclusive it was reserved for the funeral masks of Pharoahs, and for the brush tips of the Renaissance’s most renowned artists. Lapis equalled the price of gold right up until the industrial age. Lapis is still very hard to come by but there is an abundance of this beautiful stone in Afghanistan, we use it in most of our jewellery designs!