Island Craft.

Island Craft connects traditional craftspeople to modern designers. The result is some cool and creative home furnishings and fabrics at quite affordable prices.

The Stuff

We normally start with the stuff. For example, these are woven bears on a Dumbara style chair. 

What’s unique about Island Living, however, is that each piece has a story behind it. These bears, for example are hand-woven by women from Mullativu who had been weaving smaller pieces (socks and those hats Sri Lankans put on babies) until people from AOD had the idea to make bigger pieces like this and wraps, etc.

These masks (Rs. 1,000) are takes on the traditional Sri Lankan demon mask style. The ones below are actually boxes that you can keep stuff in. These are made by the Hirukirana Folk Art Center in Bentota, basically a father and son operation.

Painted elephants are a classic Sri Lankan gift, but they’re usually a riot of colors. These ones by Nirmala Handicrafts of Galle tries a different stroke – painting them all solid. Through Island Crafts connections they’ve also started selling these on Sri Lankan airlines. You can get them in store for Rs. 370 to 1,925.

This is a close-up of a wastepaper basket (Rs. 2000-3000) made by Earthbound Creations from Peradeniya. Sagara, the owner, collects old newspapers and magazines and works them to create solid and fascinating boxes, bowls and even elephants.

The shop also has a range of saris from Rs. 6,500 to 8,500 from handloom weavers on the East Coast in the Divulapitiya village in Gampaha. They have more expensive (around Rs. 10,000) batik saris and beach wraps, throws etc.

In terms of goods and prices alone we think this is a nice place to gift shop, especially for tourists, but what sets Island Craft apart is the story. Which we’ll get into more below.

The Service

Normally this section covers customer service. In our case Michele, who does business development was showing us around. The gentleman who seems permanently in the shop knows the prices better but he may not be able to relate the stories as well. We’ll ask them if they could maybe put some written material next to things, because the sourcing and origins of these items is the most interesting thing.

What we’d also like to discuss here is the service to the community. People all across in Sri Lanka make amazing things, but they may not be able to market them to the maximum. Island Craft steps in by A) connecting craftspeople with designers and B) connecting those products with local and international hotels, shops, etc.

At the shop you see the results, but the real sales are in bulk to hotels and the like. If this process keeps growing, Island Craft can really contribute to gainful employment across the island.

The Location

The Island Craft shop is just next to the Academy Of Design on Duplication Road, just past Bauddhaloka Mawatha. It’s a small space but it’s full of interesting stuff and fun to wander around.

Conclusion

Island Craft is a fun place to shop because there’s a story behind every piece. They work with local craft-people and trained designers to produce creative traditional houseware and fabrics. The main business is actually sales to big hotels and shops, but you can get individual pieces at pretty good rates here.

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