Madwa
Projects

Our Projects

Madwa products are made by groups of local artisans. Some have involved and organized their wider community, while others work as a single family.

To create its range of silk and cotton lambas, Madwa has worked with groups of traditional weavers from the Merina and Zafimanary tribes in the central highlands of Madagascar. Using a centuries old technique, they weave on single looms using natural dyes. Madwa also works with a master weaver who is recreating the disappearing art of intricately patterned silk lambas traditionally worn by Malagasy nobility and royalty.

In the capital, Antananarivo, groups of homeless women have been trained by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to make linen drawn thread table napkins for Madwa. The nuns provide training skills for these women as well as schooling and daily meals for street children. Close by, another group of women use finely woven raffia to make covered boxes, pen holders, tissue boxes and trays.

Outside of Antananarivo, a village is involved in the production of Madwa floor cushions using locally sourced and sustainable materials, which include a filling of pine needles. In the same region, a single family using coils of aravula grass bound together with raffia, produce Madwa’s tableware and floor mats.

In the northern part of the island, using papyrus reeds, Madwa has partnered with groups of weavers to make its signature range of boldly patterned baskets and storage boxes.

In Swaziland, Madwa’s collection of homeware and baskets is made by groups of skilled wood carvers and weavers, working with Umtsala and Letinse grasses, in the Hhohho and Ezulwini valleys.  A unique method of weaving using a portable wooden frame and recycled torch batteries produces a range of luxurious mohair throws which are heavily textured, in plain and striped patterns.

Madwa is also working with Ngwenya Glass in Swaziland. All the pieces are hand-blown in thick recycled glass to create the subtle green hues that are the range’s signature look. The collection includes plates, vases, tea lights and bowls.

Madwa’s newest project is in the north of Swaziland. It was established specifically to ensure the survival of the traditional grass floor mats woven there. With only a handful of elderly women still making these mats from crocheted grass, their continued production was precarious. Younger women showed little interest in this skill, preferring to seek more stable employment in urban areas. In the past this skill had automatically been passed down through the generations. With Madwa’s new centre headed by master weaver Kalema, younger women are being trained to prepare and plait the grass for the weavers and can see the benefits first hand.

   

Our collections allow the crafters with whom we work to build their skills and develop their creativity designing fresh ranges that appeal to discerning contemporary tastes across the globe.

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