A GLIMPSE INTO Our challenging PROCESS
STEP 1: TRAVEL TO TOWNS AND VILLAGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO RESCUE A DISAPPEARING HERITAGE
For the moment the majority of our salvaging quests takes place in Lebanon – a land where unmonitored real estate development and little preservation efforts have led to the demolition of old houses and their replacement by modern buildings and high rises. In the past other destinations included Syria before the conflict and Egypt.
Our founder Benedicte found this forge with a friend in the countryside of Aleppo, Syria in her quest for old wrought iron pieces. The ironworkers were melting down beautiful 18th century balconies into truck parts! They had never seen a petite western woman showing interest in what they considered junk.
Step 2: Sift through the rubble to identify potentially interesting pieces
This is not a task for the faint of heart! It's often a "hit or miss", when it's a hit it's cause for celebration.
Step 3: Reimagine every piece
No two finds are alike. It makes our task of designing every piece a constant exercise in creativity, sometimes inspiration is found in the unexpected.
Step 4: Materialize the semi-finished designs at Arc-en-Ciel's forge and carpentry shop in Beirut
Arc-en-Ciel is a non-profit organization that works with the disabled of diverse religious backgrounds and with whom we partner. When we first started working with the team of disabled and marginalized workers at Arc-en-Ciel (AEC) we were concerned about their level of skills and thought that their disabilities would be challenging. Today and after years of training we're so proud to co-create beautiful objects with this team of great artisans. Michael one of our disabled iron workers said to a reporter who interviewed him about his work with us: "Before I was a machine, now I'm a creator". Michael's apartment was refurbished by Habitat for Humanity in a program that we championed at AEC to increase our social impact. If a small business like ours can do this just imagine the potential of transformation on a grander scale if others were to be inspired by our example!
Step 5: Restore iron/wooden pieces and create lampshades for the Local market, Europe and the us.
Another major asset is our team of women from marginalized backgrounds. It takes us 6 to 7 months to carefully train a lampshade maker and patina worker, the team restores the pieces received from the forge or carpentry shop and makes lampshades out of rare fabrics for the European market.
Step 6: Ship semi-finished pieces to our Cambridge, MA, USA workshop
Lamp bases and other items are shipped to be completed in our Cambridge workshop.Yes it takes a while for a vessel to sail across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to get to Boston!
Step 7: Complete the work in Cambridge
Once in Cambridge, we put on the finishing touches: making lampshades for the lamp bases, mounting electrical wires, fine tuning the restoration of a few pieces, and making cushions and pillows, among other things. Our lampshades are made out of 18th/19th c. hand-dyed damask linen from French bridal dowries, vintage ethnic fabrics from Central Asia , old saris and "chic du chic" fabric remnants from an iconic French brand. Our helping hand on this side of the pond is Lorraine, who has come to us through Pine Street Inn, a local organization providing services to the homeless. She has been a part of our “home” since May 2013 and is becoming skilled in crafting beautiful lampshades and pillows, using the employment opportunity to get back on her own two feet.