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Supporting local craftsmanship: Interview with Founder of V Designs

In a world filled with fast fashion and design, there is a rising demand for initiatives that communicate and uphold a deeper connection to our local roots – objects that bring value to both the creators, craftsmen, and users – over and above a price tag.

Just recently, we discovered V Designs, a Bahrain-based brand that features aesthetically-pleasing products made by local artisans. We had a conversation with Valeria Vidal, the founder of V Designs to know more about her creative process, the craftsmen she’s working with and more exciting news!

Please introduce yourself. What inspired you to create V Designs?

I was born in France and studied interior design in Montreal, Canada. I worked in retail architecture and design for 10 years; first in Paris for Louis Vuitton and then in Montreal for Aldo.

Valeria Vidal, Founder of V Designs

When I moved to Bahrain four years ago with my family, my first interest was to know more about the local culture and crafts available here. I met with local artisans, immersed in their culture and created a friendly relationship with them. I have always been in awe of traditional crafts passed from generation to generation.

Eight months ago, I decided I wanted to develop a project of my own. I started to design modern minimalist objects for the home, handmade here in Bahrain by skilled artisans. This was how V Designs was born.

Where do you pull your creative inspiration for your designs?

I get inspired by the land, the sea, the island life – I was born on an island where it was warm and sunny all year long so I feel like it’s in my DNA. Moreover, I am a very minimalist person in my way of life. I have always aimed to encourage sustainable businesses and support local communities whenever possible.

Umi

The slow fashion and design movement really speak to me. As a designer, I always find beauty in clean lines, pure forms, neutral decor, earth tones and this is reflected in my designs. Nobody puts it better than the architect Mies Van der Rohe: ‘’Less is more’’ and this is what I live by.

We’ve seen that your brand is already establishing a mark locally. What makes it stand out from the saturated market in Bahrain?

Although V Designs has only been out there for a few months, I was really thrilled to see that my designs were appreciated by some of my peers in the region who I really respect and look up to.

At first, I was only doing this for me – to get back in touch with my creative side – but I quickly realised that there was a market for more modern minimalist lines, made by hand here in Bahrain.

I believe my customers understand how important it is to support local men and women especially during uncertain times like today. I see great potential in local craftsmanship and enjoy bringing it to life with a modern minimalist touch.

You’ve mentioned that your products are handmade by local craftsmen and women. Tell us something more about this.

I work and search for local artisans who are passionate and open about change. I believe that Bahrain’s cultural heritage must be cherished and valued.

One of the first to believe in my project was Hussain, an incredibly skilled potter from Aali. We were the perfect match as we knew and worked with each other long before V Designs existed. He understood my vision; even if he found me a little excessive sometimes with my attention to detail, he has been my number one support. V Designs would not be the same if it wasn’t for him so it was only natural that I started my project with pottery pieces. I am also working with a palm weaver at the moment and just love seeing my vision come to life!

Where do you see V Designs in the next 5 years?

That’s a tricky question, I feel the brand already developed greatly in only 5 months. In 5 years, I would love to be able to reach new customers beyond Bahrain, export our pieces to new shops around the Middle East, and let the world see what Bahrain is made of. I started with pottery and basket weaving but I would love to explore new mediums, find some new skilled artisans in the region to work with and expand.

What is the best piece of advice to give someone who wants to start their own business?

It’s very cliché but “believe in yourself and stick to your vision”. If you believe you have something to share, then just go for it and don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t take yourself too seriously in the process and have fun doing what feels right by your values and vision. And last thing but not least, be kind, always.

Is there any exciting news that you would like to share with our readers?

Yes! I am very excited to launch a French tote bag after Eid. I started with pottery (working with clay and terracotta) but I’ve been exploring palm weaving for a while. The tote bag was inspired by my childhood summers in France.

French Tote Bag

The bags are 100% handmade in Bahrain, hand-woven by skilled Bahraini women and embellished with leather straps by a local leatherworker. It’s my everyday go to piece in summer!

How can our readers purchase your products?

Customers can view our full range of products, get in touch with me, ask questions or comments through V Designs’ Instagram page. The vases are available in store at the following branches and as of July, I am aiming to have all products available in stores only.

  • Qalat al Bahrain gift shop, where you can get some coffee with a view from Green Bar café and shop local pieces alongside ours.
  • Singapore Flowers in Adliya has many of my vases and you can customize them with any flower arrangement. Available in store and online.

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