Sustainability in Shanghai | Community Support & Pilgrimage in Tibet

October 20, 2021

Sustainability in Shanghai | Community Support & Pilgrimage in Tibet

These past few months, we had the chance to reconnect with like-minded people and organisations and revisit conversations on sustainable practices in design and production. From being an active presence at design festivals to meeting with local nomad communities on the Tibetan Plateau, we’ve been on a quest to expand our views while preparing for a new season and a new collection.

In our efforts to promote Nepal’s mindful living, our focus grew to embrace the rich culture of the Himalayas and the legacy of its craftspeople. Our plans are well underway, and we invite you to keep reading to find out more.

"When Attitudes Become Lifestyle" - promoting the sustainable and mindful lifestyle in Shanghai

We joined our sister brand, ENERGYiNMIND, at the 2021 Design Shanghai @Xintiandi Design Festival and co-curated When Attitudes Become Lifestyle, a two-month-long series of experiences. We collaborated with more than twenty brands, independent artists, and designers to engage the Chinese consumer's mindset on sustainability. The programme included co-creation workshops, talks, online and offline conversational gaming and mindfulness through art & healing sessions.

We accompanied other ethical brands in the ENERGYiNMIND lounge, where we invited people to interact with a visual and sensorial installation in a moment of mindfulness and connection.

Zhang TingTing, the former lead designer of Zaha Hadid Architects, connected with the event's audience online and commented: "It's important for us as consumers to make the right, conscious and informed choices...and I believe it starts with the right attitudes."

The Ruggist Michael Christie & CHACCRA's lead designer Julia Guenther also shared their views on sustainable lifestyles.


Supporting the Tibetan Community in Ge'nyen

The end of Summer saw the CHACCRA team visiting Sichuan's local communities at the foot of the Ge'nyen Massif, one of the twelve holy mountains in the Tibetan region. The communities there still live a nomad lifestyle with an average family annual income lower than 5000USD. So in a partnership with GEI, the local NGO, we looked at ways of supporting people to generate income using their handicraft skills.

The Yak wool used in the area to make traditional tents is exceptionally durable and relatively waterproof. We decided to experiment with using it in various designs, also testing the local plants with the help of a veggie dye expert. We worked with craftswomen who kindly showed us their skills as we discussed new design possibilities, and we invited them to weave the veggie dyed wool yarn into their blankets. The exercise created a wave of enthusiasm over the prospects of generating income from their handmade products.
Landscape of a snowy mountain
We also visited a few workshops in Lhasa, the centre of the Tibetan Buddhist world. We found that most of them were working with elementary design patterns. The craft can quickly depreciate without a market for these products or investments in developing new skills, especially considering the lack of interest of the new generation in pursuing a career in the industry.
We hope to continue working closely with the Himalayan indigenous communities to support them to revitalise the craft and develop competitive products, and encourage them to continue the beautiful tradition.


Pilgrimage to the Center of the Earth: Mount Kailash

Every year, pilgrims across Asia visit Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. The Mount is striking - a lone peak detached from the main Himalayan range in Tibet's Kangdise mountains.

This year we decided to join the symbolic 52 km trekking around the mountain. The journey through the spectacular high-altitude landscape of remote Western Tibet is as much spiritual as physical. The unpredictable changes in weather and seeing the snow has melted on the peaks of the surrounding mountains were a stark reminder of climate change and how its impact is becoming more and more visible.

The kindness and encouragement of local Tibetans helped us along the way as we contemplated this culture’s values and beliefs that had inspired us even before CHACCRA became a reality. As we continue promoting a sustainable lifestyle, this trip perfectly reflected the energised mindfulness at the core of our work.


Revisit our story and values here

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