It was after leading a yoga retreat in Rajasthan, India in 2015 that Dubai-based yoga teacher Nea Ferrier and her husband Mark Rogers, also owner of Mojo Gallery in Alserkal Avenue, decided to embark on a new project: Oni Earth-Kind Fabrics. As they travelled around Rajasthan, they fell in love with fabrics made from traditional Indian design techniques, namely Dabu printing, a process common to the city of Bagru, famous for vegetable dyes like indigo, and hand block printing practised in Jaipur. However, the more fabrics they saw, the more they realised that many of the textiles hadn’t been made using this traditional technique. “This is a tradition that has been used for 100 years in India,” says Ferrier, emphasising how rare it is to now find fabric made through this historical process. Around the same time, the couple also became aware of the importance of organic cotton. “Organic textiles are the next frontier,” states Ferrier, who explains how she and Rodgers wanted to make a switch to organic cotton in their lives. “We use textiles everyday; we sleep in them and wear them so it makes sense that they are also made using non-conventional farming methods that will make them better for your health and also environmentally sustainable.
Vegetable dye indigo used to produce Oni-Kind Earth Fabrics
Oni’s vibrant fabrics filled with a richness of patterns, are available in a selection of quilts and kanthas, are made by women from Jaipur and Bagru using organic cotton and the traditional block printing technique. Drawn from Persian and Indian motifs as well as symbols and patterns collected from the couple’s travels throughout Asia, Africa and their home in the Middle East, Oni also serves as a way to preserve historical arts and crafts. “The Indian workers who are creating the patterns on our fabrics have been passed on such techniques from their fathers and mothers,” explains Ferrier. Oni is also a way to keep this heritage alive. Importantly, Oni supports the ‘slow fashion’ movement, meaning that adheres to safe and ethical work practices. “If you buy fashion that is cheap then you can be sure that somewhere down the line someone has been exploited,” says Ferrier. “Why do we need to make things fast and cheap?
Kantha stitch on quilts
Can’t we move back to a time when people made things by hand with care and were treated with dignity?” With Oni, the couple is striving to create beauty products but with integrity. As Ferrier adds, “When you go to sleep at night on an Oni quilt you won’t just sleep better because the cotton feels better on your skin, but because you feel better on a deeper level – because you know that you have done something ethically.”
Oni fabrics are available via Onifabrics.com