In Conversation with The Conran Shop

In Conversation with The Conran Shop

To celebrate the launch of Casa’s exclusive ceramics collection with The Conran Shop, I caught up with their gorgeous team to discuss Romanian craft, how it all started and what's in store for Casa's future.

1. Hello Alice and welcome to The Conran Shop! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and Casa De Folklore. 

Hello Conran Shop team – thank you so much for inviting me to talk about Casa De Folklore. I’m the founder of Casa and I currently take responsibility for all of the day-to-day running of the company. From marketing to customer service, and from logistics to liaising with artisans, it’s safe to say that my days are never boring!

I left my childhood home in Romania at a young age, travelling across Europe to begin a new life in England. With me, I took the most beautiful childhood memories and a heartfelt determination to hold onto my roots. It was not long before I began surrounding myself with objects that reminded me of home. Starting with family photos, I was soon surrounded by my grandmother’s woven textiles, handmade Romanian ceramics and wooden ornaments. Despite the distance that lay between my family and me, these items always made me feel that home was close by. 

I founded Casa De Folklore with the desire to protect the skills and traditions that created these items that I treasure so much, skills that have been passed down through so many generations. Working together with Romanian artisans, my goal is to keep these traditions alive, ensuring that their stories live on, and sharing their beautiful craft with the world.

Casa De Folklore in Conversation with The Conran Shop

2. Why is Romanian craft personally important to you?

I was raised by my grandparents in a small rural village in Romania. They live in a world in which everyone works with their hands – whether that’s ploughing the land, raising livestock, or making their own wine. Nothing goes to waste, and people still to this day practice the skills that they learnt, from their ancestors. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother sitting at her wooden loom in front of the fire, effortlessly weaving the most beautiful rugs. The loom was built for her by my grandfather decades ago, and it still stands proud in their house today. 

There was always something to do, and life moved in time with the rhythms of the seasons. Winter would be for knitting and weaving, while summers were spent washing and dyeing wool with onion skins and walnut husks. Each day was full of rituals that we today celebrate as skilful craftsmanship. For them, however, they are simply a necessity and a way of life. My passion for craft was born there under the watchful and loving eyes of my grandparents. To this day, Romanian craft and traditions pulse through my heart and soul.

3. How did you go about setting up partnerships with the artisans you work with?

Building strong relationships with craftspeople is extremely important to me. I travel back to Romania every summer to visit my family and explore my homeland, stopping along the way to meet with artisans and locals in every remote corner of the country. 

Each part of the country specialises in a different craft. You can tell where a specific piece comes from by the colours and motifs that are being used in the design. I love meeting the artisans, watching them work in their home ateliers and learning about the tools they use. Each piece I bring back to the UK has been carefully hand-picked and considered, not only for its beauty, but also for the love and care that went into its creation. No two pieces are the same; each one whispers of the skilled hands of the artisan as we trace its journey from raw clay, right through to the beautiful pieces that end up adorning our homes.

4. We are pleased to launch an exclusive collection of ceramics at The Conran Shop; might you have a particular favourite? 

I’m so thrilled to be working with The Conran Shop on this collection. It’s incredible to see Romanian craftsmanship being celebrated alongside the amazing designers that The Conran Shop work with. I have to say, this is one of my favourite collections. All of the pieces complement each other so well, but if I had to choose one item, it would be the terracotta Curved Platter. This makes the perfect centrepiece and breathes life into any room.

5. What are some of the greatest challenges in working across Romania and the UK?

By far the greatest challenge is ensuring that the story isn't lost in translation. Each piece carries within it generations of history, with tales and traditions hiding in every pattern, colour and detail. Telling those stories and keeping them alive for future generations is a huge passion for me.

6. And similarly, how does this cultural blend enrich your experiences?

The blending of cultures is a beautiful thing, breathing new life into folklore. A rural household would not function without their gleaming milk jugs, woven rugs and wooden utensils. Once indispensable in every home, these items are now simple curiosities, destined to fade away as too many traditions have before them. By introducing traditional crafts to modern society, we are able to save dying skills and protect the legacy that our ancestors left behind.

7. Which artists and designers inspire you?

There is so much inspiration out there, and with the advent of social media, every maker, designer and artist now has a platform on which to be heard. It’s beautiful to see. An all-time favourite for me has to be sculptor Constantin Brancusi. His mix of traditional craft and modern silhouettes is delightful and still so current. 

8. Lastly, what are your hopes for the future of the brand?

There’s so much more of my Romanian heritage that I would like to share with the world. New artisans are joining our little collective every year, and I'm so excited to showcase their work. We’re also currently in the process of organising workshops for customers who share our passion for these crafts. The workshops will be hosted in Romania, each led by a master craftsman in their home atelier. There will also be the opportunity to visit some of Romania’s rich historical and cultural sites along the way, not to mention the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains, and to indulge in truly delicious Romanian food.




Follow the link in the stories for the full interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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