Across the Arab world, a bokja is an embellished textile wrapping to carry personal belongings. It is often used to hold a bride’s dowry – gifts from the women in her family wishing her a happy future. Fittingly, Bokja is also the name of Beirut based surface fabrication studio, co-founded by Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri in 2000. Their signature approach has an international following – pieces of previously used fabric, each with its own history, carefully joined together and upholstered onto often classic pieces of furniture. This furniture is transformed from one life to the next by the unexpected, brilliant juxtapositions of colour, pattern, texture and surface. Each piece is a one-off and comes with its own passport, listing its name, ‘date of birth’ and description – the start of its new journey.
Bokja has consistently been a pioneer in reviving regional textile practices and redefining them in a contemporary voice. Bokja’s existing body of work is entirely produced in the company’s atelier with meticulous attention to detail by exceptionally talented craftsmen and women from the region. Combining artisans, carpenters and designers behind every Bokja design is a team of 35 people from 10 countries such as Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan, Egypt and Lebanon. Bokja’s textile laboratory is a representation of a diverse cluster of textile practices. With a solid network of specialized artisans, Bokja serves as a curator of textile techniques and a gatherer of personal stories.
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