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Valérie Barkowski

An artist and designer, she has many talents up her sleeve. She is well traveled and takes inspiration from her expeditions around the world. As a creative director and designer she has given birth to many creative projects. Portrait by Florence Doisneau.

Design Inspiration: Jaipur city

Valérie is inspired by traveling and art in all forms. She has been around the world to get inspired by its art and culture. Her first inspiration was Jaipur. She was taken back by its majestic beauty and meticulously crafted handicrafts.

Dar Kawa

It is a 17th-Century riad owned by Valérie. She has converted a traditional Moroccan house into a modern and chic home for guests, all the while retaining its essence.

The Embroidered Ambassador

This is one of Valérie’s unique creation. She had the idea of embroidering a car and the antique car model fit her idea perfectly, so she created beautiful embroidered designs on the inside as well as the outside.

Behind the making of the embroidered ambassador

Embroidering a metal body required a very specific kind of technical skill. The metal body of the car had to be waterproof and rust proof.

The car was covered in mirrors woven with lasting thread to create constellations and waterproof designs. The craftsmen had to ensure that the threads would not cut due to the metal. This technique and style of creation is unique to Valérie’s perceptions.

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Showcase 13 Oct 2017

Colour Stories: Valérie Barkowski’s embroidered ambassador is a glimpse of her multifarious career

Valérie Barkowski has had a wide range of career paths from strategic consulting, interior designing, product designing to team management and communication. With an endless appetite for style, she draws inspiration from everything that the world has to offer. CQ speaks to Valérie Barkowski to understand the inspirations and ideas that have led to her success as a textile designer.

About Valérie Barkowski 

Valérie Barkowski’s philosophy consists of opening up to others and letting herself be guided by her curiosity and desire to learn more. She values authenticity and timeless style, which is a part of her work. Her oeuvre includes creating a furniture line for Lafayette Maison, staging a shop in Ibiza, a booth for the Maison & Objet exhibition, offering interior design services for homeowners and designing showrooms in Bombay or Milan and more long-term projects like Mia Zia, Sokistan and Bandit Queen. She is greatly fascinated by India and its culture, which has inspired many of her artistic endeavours, such as No-Mad, an interior decor brand dedicated to India’s timeless handicrafts.

Valérie Barkowski

An artist and designer, she has many talents up her sleeve. She is well traveled and takes inspiration from her expeditions around the world. As a creative director and designer she has given birth to many creative projects. Portrait by Florence Doisneau.

What colour inspires you? 

I don’t have an ‘individual’ colour inspiration. I work with groups of colours when I develop products. There must be a balance between what you, as an artist are attracted to and what is finally sellable. So, attraction and development become two different things.

Where do you see or observe colours? 

The colours that inspire me are derived from impressions that I absorb when I travel, go to exhibitions, observe paintings and nature. For me, inspiration is everywhere. It can also be in my kitchen garden.

Why do you like them?

I like the endless variations and combinations that colours offer. 

“There must be a balance between what you, as an artist are attracted to and what is finally sellable. So, attraction and development become two different things.”

What is your design inspiration? A person, place or studio or any specific element? 

I am inspired by travelling and art in all its forms. India has always been an inspiring country for me. I have been working in this country for many years. It is like a continent. Every region is so different that you feel like you are visiting a different country every time. I am inspired by the country’s crafts and ancestral traditions.

Design Inspiration: Jaipur city

Valérie is inspired by traveling and art in all forms. She has been around the world to get inspired by its art and culture. Her first inspiration was Jaipur. She was taken back by its majestic beauty and meticulously crafted handicrafts.

  

My first design inspiration was definitely Jaipur. The city was full of a majestic beauty and charm. Gitto Patni, who is a master in block printing, is someone I worked with and learned a lot from. He is also an important inspiration for many of my designs. Although, as time goes on and I start to know the place better, I need to move on to find new inspirations.

What is the work that is your design inspiration?

Dar Kawa, my riad in Marrakech. It is a project I have been working on for the last 20 years and it is still on the move. I am permanently creating something new there, be it in design, textiles or in the form of the hospitality business itself.

Dar Kawa

It is a 17th-Century riad owned by Valérie. She has converted a traditional Moroccan house into a modern and chic home for guests, all the while retaining its essence.

 

Dar Kawa  

A 17th-century riad, the Dar Kawa is situated in the heart of the Medina from where the city of Marrakech was born. Converted into a spiritual retreat by Valérie Barkowski, it is a five bedroom riad (a traditional Moroccan house) which fuses the traditional essence of the Moroccan styles with a modern and chic concept. Valérie has made use of her designs to decorate the entirety of the space by making use of tri-chromatic shades of greys whites and beiges all the while retaining the original Moroccan essence. The riad offers a comfortable getaway from the mundane city life, with a huge courtyard bearing plush sofa and hand-printed cushions, vintage style furniture decorated with Valérie’s designs. One can spend their days in peace away from the world of chaos and hustle at the Dar Kawa.     

 “For me, inspiration is everywhere. It can also be in my kitchen garden”

We'd like to showcase one of your works. Which one would you like us to talk about?

I am often working with embroidery for my projects. So, one day, I had the idea to embroider the body of a car. I decided to work on an old, broken car just for the pleasure of the project and its technical challenges. While I was hunting for an old car, the owner of Samode Haveli offered to buy a new ambassador and this is how the project started. It took three months to be accomplished and was completed in 2006.

The Embroidered Ambassador

This is one of Valérie’s unique creation. She had the idea of embroidering a car and the antique car model fit her idea perfectly, so she created beautiful embroidered designs on the inside as well as the outside.

The Embroidered Ambassador 

Like any craft, embroidering the metal body of a car requires skilled craftspeople. However, that wasn't the only challenge. Other technical details like the requirement of a waterproof and rustproof car add to the challenges. It was also important to ensure that the threads would neither be cut by metal nor fade in sunlight. The Ambassador is an age-old car, now used as VIP limousines and taxis. Hence, it made the perfect fit for the idea Valérie had in mind. The result was a car covered by hand embroidered mirror forming constellations and waterproof designs made out of cotton floss.

Behind the making of the embroidered ambassador

Embroidering a metal body required a very specific kind of technical skill. The metal body of the car had to be waterproof and rust proof.

The car was covered in mirrors woven with lasting thread to create constellations and waterproof designs. The craftsmen had to ensure that the threads would not cut due to the metal. This technique and style of creation is unique to Valérie’s perceptions.

 

Take a closer look at ‘The Embroidered Ambassador’ here. Discover more of Valérie’s works here