Because the beauty of one metal is not enough. An interview with Saffar Crafts
Behind the Scenes - Nov 15, 2020, Interview by Aztro
Alchemy, the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the idea of transforming matter, but particularly with the attempt to turn metals into gold. Where others failed, Kuwait based designer Kawther Alsaffar succeed in mixing never before married metals into one. Her story is one of experimentation and collaboration with artisans from Kuwait.
Tell us about your studio and its origins.
Saffar Crafts started in 2014 as part of a continuous exploration of the Kuwaiti locale and its design potential. The name Saffar is actually a historical copper smithing trade my family was famous for in Kuwait before the oil boom economy occurred in the 1950s.
You products mix metals usually never combined, how did you come with this idea?
It was actually a literal dream. I was working on a collection of story-based sand-cast objects with Alwafi foundry called Sandcast Tableware and I had a dream about mixing metals with the foundry. After a lot of discussion with the head of the foundry Mahir and a lot of disbelief, he tried it and succeeded in producing a Dual Casting which we honed and perfected over the next couple of years.
What is your favorite part of the process? What is the most challenging part?
My favorite and also the most challenging part of the process is working with the craftsmen. We learn so much from each other but there are often huge communication barriers. The process creates a balance between a desire for design intention and "perfection" and the craftsmen's methods that work in the opposite vein. The end result is something in between that really celebrates a union of design and craft.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
What makes me passionate about my work is that there is a real need for it. As global consumers, we are often inundated by mass-produced products made in countries established in production. We don't need more mass production in the world, the global market is saturated. What we need more of is limited products with intention and heart and story behind them. We need objects we can cherish and celebrate. By focusing on celebrating localities and their inherent differences we can create products that truly bring something new and valuable to the design scene.
What do you hope customers experience when they use your products? What has been your most memorable experience with a customer?
I want customers to have a sense of happiness and enjoyment of beauty when they receive the products. I would like them to have a true connection to the rough gritness of production through pieces that are irreplaceable, and ever-evolving in color.
One of the most touching experiences I've had is a customer on my Kickstarter launch that wrote in the comments that he was gifting the custom engraved piece to his wife before he passed away.
As a female design entrepreneur, what advice do you give other female entrepreneurs to empower them?
Not to let people pigeon hole you behind a computer because you are a woman. If you want to make products with your own two hands it's going to be super tough, because it is a male-dominated scene even in western countries, but don't let it stop you. Fight for it. Just because others may see gender, you don't have to. The less you focus on it, the less others will.
What is your favorite or most influential book?
A Whole New Mind - Daniel Pink
What is the vision for your brand in the next years to come? What new products are you working on?
The vision is to keep producing beautiful and critical products that merge between art and design. To build a permanent studio, and to establish an independent foundry, and to grow both a design and fabrication team. And to keep collaborating nomadically with different craft businesses and designers.
Share a few thoughts of what you like about being part of our community?
What I love about being part of the Artzo community is being connected to a supportive group of creatives that understand the importance of having a diversity of outputs of both local craft and design. The platform has allowed me to connect to other creatives with similar work and objectives. The year 2020 pinpoints just how critical it is for us to find different methods of production that are not dependent on mass consumption, in a world suffering from the subsequent ecological neglect caused by none-diversified global consumerism. We need more businesses and attention given to local production, and Artzo does just this.