An inspired and modern take on heritage, Golden Editions began with a Ghanian craft collection, and continues to be contextualised by designer Sara Efia Reddin's personal history and experiences.
Honouring Ghana's tradition of crafting, Golden Editions is a design studio that blends Europe and Africa, with beautifully considered and design-led homewares and textiles that are traditionally made by artisans in Ghana's weaving communities.
We spoke to the founder Sara about what led her to create Golden Editions, and the wonderful community initiatives that grow in step with her business.
Golden Editions was initially inspired by your mother’s craft collection, could you please talk to us about your Ghanaian heritage, and how this helped to shape your business?
My heritage is part Ghanaian, my mother was Ghanaian, born in the town of Kumasi in the 1940’s. She moved to London in the 60’s so her world view was very cosmopolitan and bohemian. My father was Italian/Irish, we are a very mixed family. When we were around 10, my mother rediscovered her home country. She even did a degree in agriculture hoping to go home as it were, to start a business, which never quite materialised. She was an avid collector of craft, and on her trips to Ghana would buy textiles, brass or wood ornaments and baskets. There were always these beautiful pieces of Ghana in our home, made by hand, bringing you a touch of our heritage. But our household was far from traditional, her father was actually Jamaican; he had been friends with Marcus Garvey and was part of the back to Africa movement in the 1940’s. She comes from a progressive, creative, and curious family.
When I visited Ghana in my teens, I was enthralled by all the handmade goods. When I was in art school Ghana often featured in my projects. I guess it was kind of a romantic vision, from meeting my Asante family members who had this strong and proud cultural heritage. Every event was filled with so many iconic and rich items including leather, gold, and woven cloths. Actually, the basketry is probably the thing that had the least rich connotation; hence it was a little tongue in cheek when I called the brand Golden and started with the product deemed the least chic.
Before starting your brand, you worked in interiors, and also Peclers – a Parisian trend agency. How have you applied your learnings from these experiences to Golden Editions?
I arrived in Paris in 2003 and I guess I still had my British Art School mentality, ideas and creativity came first. Paris is grounding. In the beginning it felt boring and safe, but it has been a good exercise for me to peel back the craziness and learn about good taste and the light touch. The French are excellent at that. At Golden we strive to bridge the gaps between handmade traditions, a touch of creativity and effortless good taste. You can sense Ghana, but also Europe.
You have stated ‘craft is the new luxury’ – could you elaborate on this philosophy?
Sometimes it feels like machines are taking over don’t you think? So the human touch, creativity and made by hands feels increasingly important. When something has value it becomes luxurious.
Tell us about the weavers you work with and how Golden Editions positively affects their communities?
We work with three village associations. It is mainly women that work in the communities, almost 200 in total, there are a few men, they tend to focus on supervising, training, and dyeing. Weaving is mainly a part time occupation, mixed with childcare and agriculture. Weaving the lamps is financially more interesting than the market baskets and now the weavers have perfected the shapes the weaving is fluid. The weaving communities are supervised by a couple who organise the work, organise the training of new weavers, keeping the communication fluid and making sure that healthcare and education is organised. The weavers are paid fairly for their work, and we contribute for extras when needed, like hospital bills and bonuses for Christmas. In 2021 we contributed to the building of a Weaving Centre in one of the villages. We will build another in 2023. This helps their businesses because they don’t just work for me. With 30% inflation this year we have voluntarily added the 30% to all wages. Our relationship with the textile weavers is a little different, Thompson is the main Master Weaver, and he runs and association of men including his two sons. He is very well respected in his art and can interpret the most intricate of designs. We try our best to go beyond just buying, as our company grows our intention is to keep sharing and for the associations to grow with us.
"At Golden we strive to bridge the gaps between handmade traditions, a touch of creativity and effortless good taste. You can sense Ghana, but also Europe."
Golden Editions blends contemporary designs with traditional African weaving techniques. In addition to the aesthetic value, what do you feel this also adds to your designs?
Working with handmade items gives a human touch and a sense of tradition.
What do you love most about the design process?
Sketching, dreaming and then bringing ideas to life is always exciting. I also enjoy the technical side, how to make something functional and sourcing.
Do you have a favourite technique or weave that can be found in your collection?
My favourite techniques in the basketry are the Open Weave stripes, and triangles that allow the light to pour through the lamps, and the geometric motifs in our new collection are simply beautiful. But my first love is textiles, I started textile design and the Kente technique we use on our cushions and curtains is my favourite, such beautifully intricate patterns.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I try to have a holistic approach, that every part of the business is thought out and beneficial. This is satisfying when you see how many people are involved and how all our lives are evolving.
Tigmi is Berber for My Home. While Golden Editions is innately connected to your Ghanian heritage, what do you feel your own home of Paris adds to your designs?
Actually, I now live and work in Barcelona in Spain. We have a workshop, office and shop here. Paris was a wonderful experience, but it was time to move on as Joni Mitchell said, a little too settled in its ways especially in terms of education, I have teenage children. We wanted to live somewhere new and progressive. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city. You have the strong Catalan culture, Mediterranean, family orientated, but open minded due to their experience of oppression. Then the Spanish influence with its spirited warmth and touch of North Africa. There are many start-ups and a thriving international community.
Our style is very inspired by the Mediterranean, this beautiful bridge between Europe and Africa, warm and natural. Barcelona is the perfect city for us, everywhere you look there is inspiration and creativity in architecture and details.
What is next for Golden Editions?
Our shop just opened in Barcelona which is a wonderful opportunity to have a place to fully express our creative vision. It’s becoming a bit of a concept store; we are buying in pieces from friends and contemporaries with similar visions.
We are working on more creative projects in Ghana for next year. Hopefully a new textile project with young female weavers.
We are also working on some new products elsewhere! Watch this space …
Next year we will build a weaving centre in another village. That will be a great achievement.
We have many dreams, we would love to add an architectural side to the company, for interiors and construction here and in our weaving communities, but that’s for the future.