Handmade in Latvia
Talk by Mara Skujeniece

Souvenirs produced by the local craftsmen still play an important role in the image of Latvia. Foreigners are delighted by the high quality of these handmades and ecological materials. Nevertheless traditional handicrafts have less and less appeal for the younger generations: “Who is then interested to weave one linen tablecloth after another?” Designer Mara Skujeniece sees a solution in combining the Latvian handicrafts with the high quality design.

During her residency at the e-text+textiles as part of the Dutch Design Days 2008 she met handicraftsmen in Riga and regions, ultimately to develop new designs that can be produced in Latvia and marketed in Holland. Mara tried to get ‚back to the roots‘ – the textile field, that allows one to work with the local materials and gain „the joy of colour„ that she’s been missing while working with the ceramics predominantly in the last years.

In her informal talk Mara Skujeniece will share her observations about the future of Latvia’s craft in the context of resent „turn to the crafts“ in the design. Some of the questions will be how to unite the handicrafts with the industrial production and involve the outcasts’ groups of society (craftsmen in the countryside, pensioners etc.).

Mara Skujeniece was born in Riga in 1973. For more than ten years she works and lives in Amsterdam. In 2003 she founded her studio Skujeniece (www.skujeniece.com) where she works on her growing collection of handmade ceramics, interior accessories and furniture. Her commissions reach from the bedroom furniture for the company Nakts mebeles and porcelain tableware for the coffee house De Bakkerswinkel to the exhibition design for poet Knuts Skujenieks and interior elements for the highly awarded art installation Milk.

Mara studied textile in the School for Applied Arts in Riga. Later she graduated from the department Man and Living at the Design Academy in Eindhoven where she currently teaches. Her final project Latvian Basics was a collection of interior products based on the Latvian archetypes and research in packaging materials.

The Residency by Mara Skujeniece is supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Latvia and the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.