The Comptoir des Talents unearths professional artisans who make utilitarian or decorative objects, produced in small quantities utilising an authentic know-how.
We select these artisans on the basis of objective criteria and, as far as possible, meet them before offering their products.
Studio Donegal Woollen Mill is based in Kilcar, Co Donegal, where a tradition of hand weaving and woollen textiles has been in existence, dating back to the late 1700’s and earlier, prior to the Industrial Revolution. Textiles provided an important income for rural dwellers in the cottage industry.
By the late 1970s Connemara fabrics realised that something special had been lost with the demise of the hand weaving and so Studio Donegal was born.
Kevin Donaghy was engaged to manage and develop the newly created Studio Donegal. It started in the old Round Tower mill buildings, which were almost derelict. The beginnings were humble, with the retired foreman hand weaver Michael Cannon returning to work on development with Kevin. Soon they were gaining interest with new products and Michael was training several young weavers.
In the 1980s, the textile industry in Ireland was in decline with mill closures all over the country. In 1987 Connemara Fabrics decided to wind down Studio Donegal.
Since 1979 Kevin and his wife Wendy are determined to preserve the tradition of hand weaving in Kilcar.
Kevin explains : “Last july 2019, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Studio Donegal with our team of hand weavers. Masters weavers have passed their skills on to a younger generation. It is our aim to keep the craft alive for generations to come. All products labelled Studio Donegal are 100% genuinely hand woven and made in Ireland. We will continue to strive to maintain the indigenous craft of hand in South West Donegal. We are passionate about hand making and Irish made!”
Maria Giannopoulou launched her brand in Hania, Crete. Architect in training, she took on professional screen printing.
Passionate about the beauty of nature, Maria creates her designs by observing the shapes of plants and flowers. Her creations are hand-printed on 100% Greek cotton and linen fabrics. This process has many steps that require a lot of thoroughness and genuine craftsmanship.
Maria manufactures all her colors from water-based textile paints, without chemical additives. This accomplished artist is also a painter and a milliner.
“In Greece, we manage to survive. My artistic sensibility is resolutely contemporary art but tourists, many in Hania, love the classic motifs that evoke Greece … mythology, the sea … My high-quality serigraphs combine classic creations and my contemporary creations. People buy my products because they like them, find them useful and beautiful. They do not always understand the amount of work that it represents. That’s why it’s important for me that Le Comptoir des Talents is sensitive to my craft and presents it to the Belgian public. The meaning of Pantos Kerou? At all times!¨ Maria Giannopoulou
Sabine Meyer founded Side by Side in 2002 with the idea of creating qualitative work for people with disabilities.
All persons who manufacture Side by Side objects are disabled. They work in adapted workshops all over Germany. 60% of the proceeds from the sale of Side by Side products are devoted to the salary of workers, 40% goes to the purchase of materials that are little processed or recovered: wood, glass, metal.
In the workshops, the teams work in small groups of 12 people led by a workshop leader who passes on their know-how. Side by Side emphasizes training by example which allows workers to learn a lot.
“The main societal impact of Side by Side is to offer high quality products that allow people with disabilities to find their place in society. People buy our products because they love them, find them useful and beautiful, and not for charitable purposes. For me, that’s the inclusion!¨ Sabine Meyer
Ioannis has been crafting olive wood for 12 years in Kandanos in southern Crete. It is a hard job that requires a lot of patience.
The olive tree is a complicated wood to work. The exploitable boards are rare because often pebbles become encrusted infiltrating the trunks over the years due to bad weather. Often, olive planks come from a tree over 600 years old, cut to free space for younger seedlings. It takes 2 years of drying to check that no cracks appear. So there is a lot of rejection. Small objects (service cutlery) are shaped into branches from annual sizes.
In Crete, there are 35 million olive trees, about 60 trees per capita. It is an essential resource for the country. When you have an object made of olive tree, it’s for life!
“I’m working on wood for a few months in the winter. I produce small quantities of objects because I do not need much to live and so, I have time to devote myself to my passion: fishing at sea. I go on my kayak prepared for several days, camp in complete autonomy in the numerous caves on the Cretan coast. I place my hooks and I wait …. Nature is in danger because we consume too much and we do not know it well. We should go back to simple things.¨ Ioannis Ellinakisis
The MOWGS brand was founded in 2015 by Michal Simpson, an Asian enthusiast and ex-professional in the fashion industry. When Michal meets with braiders and their families, they make very basic baskets during the rainy season in reed and recycled plastic. Michal decides to help them preserve their traditional know-how and get a better price for their work.
The collaboration between Michal and the braiders is based on trust. They are thus paid before the start of work, at a level higher than the market price. These additional revenues allow them to improve their living conditions.
Michal also encourages the younger generation to learn traditional braiding techniques, by valuing this authentic know-how which now inspires them with pride.
MOWGS is certified by BAFTS (British Association Fair Trade).
“Currently, I work with 4 remote villages and support the schooling of 180 children. This story is as important as the baskets as it demonstrates the importance of preserving know-how in countries of origin, education and support to local communities.” Michal Simpson
Graphic designers, Tiago and Rita founded the Carapau brand in 2015. This 100% Portuguese decoration brand offers high quality products focused on sustainable design, color and the use of traditional materials.
The animals, representative of a threatened species, are designed by Tiago and Rita and made in Oporto with materials made in Portugal: burel (resistant wool used for mountain shepherds’ clothing), linen, vegetable inks … Each creation is accompanied an identification sheet which gives the name of the animal, the state of conservation of the species and the materials used.
For each Carapau animal sold, Tiago and Rita donate 3% of the proceeds to three wildlife protection NGOs (Afrikan Park, Oceana, World Land Trust).
“We are at the heart of a crisis in the conservation of animal species that affects the entire planet. The more we learn about it, the more we are inspired by the role we can play. We believe that social entrepreneurship can help change the world.” Rita and Tiago
Graphic designer by training, Mélissa Paszkiewicz founded Atelier Mouti at the end of 2015. She creates stationery and wall decoration items (wallpapers) that are designed and printed in France. Mélissa selects vegetal inks labeled “imprim’vert” and eco-responsible papers certified FSC.
The MOUTI workshop brings up to date a particular printing technique: thermorelief.
These products are developed in a short circuit with materials that respect the environment, through meetings with local artisans and printers.
Mélissa explains: “I create and design my articles, which are then printed in Paris and near Angers. I assemble and condition them in my studio in Paris. My articles are made in small series and developed through meetings with artisans and printers. It is important for me to work with materials that respect the environment on the one hand, and with people I meet and with whom I fabricate the social bond on the other hand. “
Are you a professional craftsman? Do you have genuine know-how? Do you create durable objects from natural or recycled materials? Are you driven by a strong societal commitment and want to promote your work at the heart of a local business in Brussels?
VAT: BE 0708 862 736
Bank: BE26 6511 6426 2129 (KEYTBEBB)
© Comptoir des Talents - 2019