Craft from Conflict

Craft from Conflict

We may have unconscious preconceptions of countries such as Afghanistan. When we hear about countries that have high levels of conflict, it becomes difficult to imagine them as anything different from the images we see on the news. But duo Edmund le Brun and Flore de Taisne have set up a venture where they aim to celebrate craft from war zones. Not only does this give these artisans a stable income, but it shines a light on the people from these regions and the beauty of their history.


ISHKAR is a social enterprise that gives opportunities to designers and makers in countries of conflict such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakista. Through a retail platform these artisans are able to showcase their own skills as well as traditional crafts of their area, such as Afghan ceramics and Syrian textiles. Some of the pieces are bought from stock that the makers already sell, but ISHKAR also collaborates with the designers and makers to create new products for them to sell. What makes this relationship different is that they aim to make sure that these people are celebrated and well looked after. Instead of getting them to make pieces by western designers, they hope to use the skills of these local people. Brun and Taisne make sure that this venture is not seen as a charity, instead it creates real business opportunities for people who live in countries cut off from traditional international markets by war, where these economic opportunities are most needed.

The enterprise has a location at Baker Street. Alongside the products being sold, they also host events, such as discussions, film screening and workshops. One of the main outcomes is storytelling. This is done through the pieces themselves, as well as the films and events. Allowing people to understand more about the countries and the individuals that live there. People are able to be accountable for each purchase. By knowing every stage that the product has been through they are able to make sure that their money is going to the right place, and makes every product more special. 


Both Flore De Taisne and co-founder Edmund Le Brun lived in Afghanistan, working on projects with Turquoise Mountain, which revives historic areas and traditional craft. Here they learnt more about crafts and tradition within the area. This is when they saw a business opportunity, and after purchasing 5,000 glasses from Ghulam Sekhii, began ISHKAR. Now, to this date, they have sold more than 17,000 of Sekhi’s glasses, who has now been able to employ apprentices and expand his workshop. Since their beginnings they have now worked with craftspeople in countries that are overshadowed by conflict, such as Zena Sabbagh, a Syrian textile artist who employs Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian women to create hand-embroidered textiles.