Irthi collaborated with American designer Jennifer Zurick, a Smithsonian Museum acquired artist and Loewe craft prize commissioned craft artist, to combine Safeefah and other weaving techniques to create a collection of sculptural hand bags using braided camel leather.
Designed using an innovative combination of ancient indigenous weaving traditions from both the United Arab Emirates and the United States, these finely woven, contemporary handbags cross international borders and portray the bond of the creative spirit of women and weavers from different cultures around the world.
The unique quality of this collection comes from the use of traditional Safeefah techniques. Safeefah products have traditionally been made with palm fronds and used as mats and baskets, constructed as long woven strips which are coiled and sewn together.
Zurick, who is a contemporary basket-weaver, worked with Irthi’s Bidwa artisans and trainees from the Bidwa Social Development Programme to create fashionable and functional bag designs with a natural rustic aesthetic. By utilising Emirati camel leather in place of the palm, the pieces take the traditional weave in an exciting new direction.