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FROM SEGOU MALI TO SMILOW DESIGN

Building on its experience in Afghanistan, Rubia is empowering Malian artisans  through sustaining their  cultural heritage of bogolan -- and their livelihoods.  

Drawn to the legacy of Smilow Furniture’s “enduring modern classics, ” Rubia imagined a partnership between Smilow Design, Ndomo and Rubia. The result: this unique bogolan upholstered chair blending the handwork of our American and Malian ancestors.

This mudcloth (bogolan: bogo means mud and lan means with) chair began on the banks of the Niger River in the ancient city of Segou. Malian youth hand-dyed its organic cotton cushion covers with fermented mud made from grape bark.  

They learned traditional techniques of dying bogolan textiles from their elders at Ndomo workshop. Its leader, Boubacar Doumbia, one of Mali’s preeminent bogolan artists passed down his skills to the next generation. 

Meanwhile 4452 miles away in New York City Judy Smilow re-issued this rail back lounge chair designed in 1950 by her father, Mel Smilow, who passed down his furniture line of  “Enduring Modern Classics to his daughters. Her company Smilow Designs is upholding his standards for the finest craftsmanship:  this sculpted chair has a solid walnut frame and a distinctively carved back.

 If you are interested in purchasing this chair, please contact c.rielly@rubiahandwork.org