The lampshades are made with natural materials grown in Santa Luzia do Itanhy in the Sergipe region in northeastern Brazil. Local materials such as piaçaba and dende are derived from palm leaves (often used in broom making), and junco from reeds. Artisans use these materials and traditional methods to make the lampshades to designer Kelley White's specifications.
The combination of contemporary design and traditional production and materials is interesting enough, but what is also fascinating is the structure of the business. The products were created as a result of a research project by IPTI which examined the traditional skills of local artisans using local materials and traditional handcrafted production. The goal of the project was to promote social and economic inclusion of some of the lowest paid members of the community, much like the projects we have worked on with embroiderers in India and weavers in Nepal.
Part of Fellicia's profits go directly to the Association of Artisans of Santa Luzia do Itanhy and to the scientific research institution IPTI, creating a truly sustainable business model.