Who doesn’t love good home decor? This is your home we’re talking about, of course it needs to look good! It’s where you go to bed every night and wake up every morning and spend so much of your free time (and right now, probably all of your time). Nobody wants to live in a house that’s dull and barebones, or worse – ugly. Finding the right decor and knowing how and where to use it is an art unto itself, and although art is subjective, I think you can agree that you know good home decor when you see it.
But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves something that’s as important as what stuff you put in your home: how it’s made. No one’s denying that those traditional Indian floor rugs would look stunning in your teakwood-floor living room, or those Peruvian wool blankets would give your bedroom that rustic aesthetic you were going for.
But how were they sourced in the first place? Were the artisans who made them compensated fairly, and were they working under good conditions?
There’s a lot more to home decor than just how it looks. Your home is an expression not just of your taste and artistry, but your values and appreciation for beautiful things made by good, honest people. It shows the world – but more importantly, yourself – that you want to support these makers of fine craft. In that way, buying from struggling artists is as noble as charity, because you’re actively giving them a way to do it for the love and passion they have for it.
Home decor is a statement, and you should be proud knowing that you made a tangible difference to the lives of the men and women that made the lovely handmade creations that populate your house.
So how do you find socially responsible home decor that you can be sure treat their workers right? Don’t worry, we’ve gone ahead and found some for you! Here’s a list of some of the top fair trade and ethical home decor brands. Check them out!
Run by the welfare organisation All Across Africa, Kazi is their handmade home decor brand aimed at providing jobs for more than 3,600 skilled artisans in Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana. They exemplify everything we admire in a socially responsible home decor brand, using ethically sourced material in their manufacture. Their products range from tabletop trivets and wall hangings to lampshades and pet beds, almost all woven from dried elephant grass. The intricate patterns and unique designs speak to the authentically African aesthetic of Kazi, and we love that.
It isn’t easy infusing a traditional and culturally specific design philosophy with an eclectic, avant-garde aesthetic. Yet somehow, Anchal has created an entire product catalogue with this innovative approach. As a non-profit organisation, they’ve trained and employed hundreds of women as artisans in India. With their unique business model, they’ve successfully married a deep passion for design with their desire to empower their workforce. From quilts made with repurposed sarees, to sustainably produced scarves and clothing, their products reflect the stories of not only the women who designed them, but the women who made them by hand, as well.
There’s a philosophy that says nothing truly ‘new’ is ever created, only art that stitches together what already exists to create something novel. It’s a philosophy that drives Mishcat Co., an Indian design studio that produces luxury handmade carpets. Each incredible piece is created using leftover saree yarn, woven into exquisite, rustic designs. Their carpets have a rustic, aged look to them that calls to mind old Victorian tapestries or Medieval Indian floor rugs. Handcrafted by artisans in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Mishcat Co. is driven by their passion to weave social and environmental responsibility together.
“India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.” This is the quote that inspired Ten Thousand Villages’ name and spirit. They partner with hard-working, underprivileged artisans from rural India, Haiti, Bangladesh and many other countries around the world. Their beautiful handcrafted catalogue includes elegantly modern, yet quaintly rustic designs that lets you experience their makers’ lives in microcosm. Ten Thousand Villages features a vast, varied catalogue, from scarves and tops, to hand-woven tote bags and purses, decorative items, pillows, rugs, wall art, and much more. All their products are ethically crafted and obtained through fair trade practices that benefit the artisans.
Underlyn’s business philosophy is one of modern technique harmonising with what the world needs. We feature hundreds of unique art prints sourced from around the world, printed on long-lasting giclee paper. We want to help you create the most personalised home gallery wall, one that doesn’t compromise on your social concerns. Our pinewood frames are handcrafted by local artisans in rural Andhra Pradesh, India, and we use only fair trade practices in producing them. All our art prints are created by upcoming, independent artists who we have recognised for their incredible talent and creativity. We don’t want our art to just reflect our values, after all. It should reflect yours, too.
Desarrollo Artesanal Responsable (D.A.R.) literally means Sustainable Artisanal Development in Spanish. This design studio in North Peru works with 10 indigenous Peruvian communities, bringing wonderful, off-beat products with stone and textile. Their products range from woven plant covers, pillows and poufs, to artisanal laundry clips made from semi-precious stones. They even create interesting stone puzzle games hand-carved from colourful, exotic stones, and ocean planters made from calcareous porous rock. It’s design like you’ve never seen before, and the money you spend goes toward uplifting the communities of artisans in rural Peru.
The driving philosophy behind Minna is one that marries traditional design with values of social responsibility. Owned and run by queer women, this Hudson, NY-based studio partners with artisans from Mexico, Guatemala, Uruguay and Bolivia. They use natural and sustainably-sourced cotton, sheep wool and alpaca wool to handcraft their products. Using a soft, light colour palette, they provide a vast catalogue of bed and bath products, napkins, baskets, kitchen and dining cloths, pillows, rugs, and even apparel. All of Minna’s artisans choose their own wages, and they operate on a fair-trade basis. They even collaborate with the artisans to a high degree during the manufacturing process.