Our May Laurel goes to Lara Salous, a furniture maker in Ramallah whose woollen screen brings Palestinian culture back home.
Lara Salous is a furniture maker and designer in Ramallah. One of her projects has featured the woven chair as a vernacular tradition. She completed a Masters of Interior Design at the University of Westminster (2017-2018) and returned to work in Ramallah. Lara’s furniture making is deeply embedded in Palestinian society, as evident in her beautiful woollen screen.
She tells the story of how the woollen screen was made:
One of my clients inherited a partition from her father, which he had used in his clinic as a doctor. She asked if I could remodel it so she could use it in her home, in the open space between the living room and the kitchen. She wanted something more transparent that would bring in light from the garden. She also wanted it in the same colours that reminded her of her father.
I made three designs but she didn’t like them. So I started again with a design according to my own tastes, which she loved. That was particularly pleasing.
I don’t sketch on an iPad. Whenever I use wool, I respond to its textures. It’s a stripe here and a different colour there until the work is complete.
I gather the wool from a Bedouin woman in a village of Hebron. It’s very seasonal so sometimes it takes up to a month to receive an order. If they don’t keep it for me, they will throw it out as there is no demand for it. I also pay for them to spin the wool and then I dye it in my studio using natural colours. It was very complicated to get recipes for dyeing. I received contradictory information from different women. I just had to try different methods myself.
I don’t have a gallery here to display my products. It’s all about online and my Instagram page. Sometimes internationals who work in Ramallah order from me to ship back to their home countries when they leave. My stools and benches are very popular.
I would like to collaborate more with interior designers and architects in reviving Palestinian traditions. I love teaching a range of people, passing knowledge on to children and teenagers. But it’s difficult in Palestine because of the lack of resources and technologies.
And I wish one day that we can be free, of course. I can’t ask for more.
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