Summertime Designs, Made in Armenia

Back in the spring of 2019, TUMO Studios was abuzz with talk of visas, paperwork and the United Kingdom. Why? Because six students were in the midst of jetting off across the continent for part two of a product design and entrepreneurship atelier funded by the British Council’s Creative Spark in tandem with Norwich University of the Arts (NUA).

Part one had already taken place in Yerevan, with Mia Sylvia, owner of an ethical line of bridal wear, and William Tate, Business Innovation Manager at NUA, leading students through a two-week atelier. Over the course of ten fruitful days, students sourced inspiration from their surroundings, drew patterns, learned about natural dyeing techniques and developed color schemes to create original textile designs. 

In part two, students travelled to Norwich to produce and create their own designs. And what a vivid array of products they developed, running the gamut from a hypnotic set of scarves and visually arresting pillowcases marked by concentric sets of swirling patterns to a trivet that pays homage to Armenia’s heritage and a vibrant, eye-popping set of kitchen towels that flood the room with bright splashes of color. 

Water Dragons Scarf by Mariam Emeksizian

“What is significant cannot be lost forever. Naturally we’ll find it someday… no matter how much time passes. The Water Dragons design comes from a true story about two women who divided a carpet in half to cover and hide their daughters during the Armenian Genocide. They escaped the massacres, but lost each other. Yet many years later they reunited, thanks to the carpet. This is where the dragons come in… in Armenian culture they symbolize protection.” – Mariam 

Kilis and Ourfa Pillow Cases by Ophelia Azizyan

“This project was inspired by traditional Armenian embroidery techniques. I created patterns using the common decorative elements of Western Armenian embroidery techniques popularized in Ourfa and Kilis. Patterns in the Ourfa style of needlework are distinguished by the use of geometric and floral shapes. And in the case of Kilis needlework, the most popular features are plants and animal patterns. Here, I decided to use the shape of a leaf, as it is very often found in embroideries of this style.” – Ophelia

Kilis and Ourfa Pillow Cases by Ophelia Azizyan

“For my trivet, I turned to some of Armenia’s most iconic architectural achievements for inspiration. So not only is this trivet set functional and great for making space on a crowded dining room table, stacked one on top of the other and viewed from above, the intricate pattern forms a section of Zvarnots Cathedral’s floor plan.” – Lilit 

Bee Towel by Lilit Ghazaryan

“While we were walking around and exploring Norwich, I was struck by the patterns on the street crossings. The black and white zebra crossings there reminded me of the black and yellow lines etched in the streets back home, patterns that more closely resemble a bee than zebra. Zebra crossings in one place, bee crossings in another. A simple yet absorbing pattern that I wanted to convey in my design, capturing the streets of Yerevan and combining it with a bee’s natural shading.” – Lilit