Emmelyn Gunawan, the passionate co-owner of fashion multi brand store Escalier shares her vision on her new concept Canaan. A dwelling place for a sustainable life, a gallery and retail space with a strong emphasis on promoting Indonesian traditional products.
What inspired you to start Canaan?
I think in life stages you come to a point where you decide what is it that you want to do for the rest of your working life. I spent so much time immersed in my work, that I was beginning to question if I was happy doing what I do in this present time. And if I wasn’t satisfied what would I do to change it, so it was really about changing my perspective and making sure that I enjoy what I do and that it creates a positive rippling effect to others. Canaan is a stepping ground to start making that positive changes in a creative industry where my peers and I have been involved in for the past 6 years whether it’d be retail, hospitality, design and so on. I love to design and that propels my passion, and realized over the years that I’ve always gone back looking at old archives and textiles, so those two aspects are usually what started that desire to collect, create and if there is a platform where I can showcase and sell then that’s is an added bonus.
Where do you meet the craftsmen?
Whether it is in Bali or abroad, I have been so blessed to have met and been introduced to so many talented craftspeople who are passionate what they do and are able to make a successful business from their crafts. In Kyoto I met a master indigo craftsman who has been perfecting the art of indigo dyeing for three generations and is still able to be sustainable.
Craftsmanship is dying off in most parts of the world - why do you think it’s still prominent in Indonesia?
Indonesia has one of the most culturally rich heritages in the world and many of our belief systems are based on traditional methodologies, I think because of that inner barrier we have been able to sustain our crafts and keep them alive for many years and still in the present stage.
You will be hosting workshops in Canaan - how will that work?
Over the past couple of years I’ve build quite a strong and trusting relationships with a lot of the craftsmen and craftswomen. They have inspired me so much. I would love to pass that knowledge to my peers and of course whoever is interested from the general public. To a lot of outsiders there is so little knowledge about the culture of Indonesia and its beautiful crafts, I think what I can offer is to showcase them in a modern way and to introduce it slowly in a light and engaging atmosphere whether I’d be inviting one of the weavers to do a workshop in the space, or inviting anyone from the public to visit the traditional factories and getting them to be involved in what they do.
What’s next for Canaan?
I hope that more and more businesses locally and internationally will start to look to the resources in Indonesia and able to work together with the craftspeople that I’ve introduced. As long as I am able to inspire another person to be positive and become a light in their creative community I am pretty content…
How do you see the Indonesian design scene? Any young emerging talent?
I always appreciate the heritage crafts world and how it somehow is able to sustain itself until now, however I am also intrigued by the new talents who are able to combine those traditional crafts and present them in a contemporary setting which may be more appealing to the current public taste. There are a few local designers who are supporting Canaan Bali, we have collaborated on some pieces while showcasing their signature items, which will be showcased at the opening, you just have to find out then!
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