BY ABIGAIL DOAN
Yeleen Design’s pure and sensual sustainable textiles
If you are an admirer or collector of West African textiles, you might be acquainted with the indigo and earth-toned mud cloths or the flowing ‘boubous’ robes of Mali. Traditionally symbolic of wealth and prosperity, these bold fabrics are bursting with hues and patterned motifs. Designer Aïda Duplessis of Yeleen Design in Mali is subtly transforming our ideas about the modern African aesthetic with her soft woven furnishings and textiles crafted out of natural fibers and bio-materials. Considered an eco-pioneer for her textile designs created out scented vetiver root, Duplessis has demonstrated that sustainable fabrics have an inherent language of their own when utilized in a manner that highlights under-stated luxury and the elemental beauty of form.
Yeleen Design’s indoor and outdoor collections embrace all of the senses. Tactile to the touch, infused with vetiver root’s own natural fragrance, and environmentally friendly in production methods, they offer a stunning array of design solutions for both home and exterior spaces. A textile innovator in her own right, Duplessis uses only the finest cotton/organic cotton, flaxseed, hemp, milk protein, seaweed, nettle, and organic vetiver, to spin a story that is rooted in cultural underpinnings as well as sound design ethic. Born in Mali’s textile producing capital city of Bamako, the designer’s earliest interests were in tourism and art history, and later evolved into formal interior design studies through CNFDI in Paris. A lover of anonymous African sculpture of yore, Duplessis has also cultivated a passion for preserving the textile traditions of her native Mali. Yeleen Design was consequently created in neighboring Burkina Faso in 2003 with the intention of employing local artisans to create unique home offerings inspired by West Africa’s rich cultural and natural resources.
Yeleen Design’s textured carpets, cushions and bed covers are created to meet a standard of luxury and excellence that the designer views as being intrinsic to a craft ethic focused on care and details and that honors the exceptionally well made. With an impressive track record of exhibiting at international trade shows like Maison & Objet in Paris and ICFF in NYC, Duplessis has set a new standard for creating chic home furnishings that also cross over aesthetically as eco-friendly décor options. Architectural designers have responded positively to Yeleen’s woven plaids and natural palette, and the back-story of working with fibers that are also good for the environment and sustainable development in Africa, makes the collection even more enticing. As part of the exhibit, ‘Three African Women Now: Designers for the Future’ at ICFF in May 2010, Yeleen Design was honored as a forward-thinking design initiative with textiles that demonstrate global appeal.
Quite a few of Duplessis’ design methods are proprietary, and in addition to the hand weaving and quality control of natural fibers, the actual fabrication of Yeleen Design’s objects are considerably more waste-free than most. Given that traditional African textiles were originally draped or tied, not cut or tailored, it is not surprising that zero-waste is a natural part of the local design lexicon. Like the anonymous carved sculptures of Africa’s past, there is a language woven into later art forms that seems almost inseparable from the beauty of their source. Aïda Duplessis seems to be honoring this phenomenon with the creation and advancement of sustainable textiles that remind of us that those fibers that permeate very our existence hold the key to creating an improved scenario for the future.
Home furnishings designer Aïda Duplessis of Yeleen Design has revitalized the textile industry in Mali with the creation of woven interior design offerings that have created an international following. Handmade by local artisans in the tradition of West African textiles, each collection incorporates sustainable fibers and innovative methods that redefine pure, eco-minded design. http://www.yeleen-design.com/