CRAFT STORY 3#LA MAISON DE LA MAILLE
Charlotte Huygues Despointes understands the importance of craft heritage : before she and François-Xavier Watine set up La Maison de la Maille, she had her own luxury design agency in Paris, “I did a lot of work with heritage brands in the perfume industry, with Champagne and Cognac houses, and other highly respected and established French Luxury brands.”
With this foundation, Charlotte decided to focus on the French textile industry, more specifically knitwear, she wanted to create high quality, French made wool products, “as we have here for so many generations”, her goal was to use and promote this savoir faire, with the hope that the knowledge will be saved and passed on. So she retrained, studying at The Ecole de la Maille in Paris. She hoped that with this training she could create beautiful products made here in France, which were sustainable and made with respect for nature and the artisans working on the product.
La Maison de la Maille was created in 2017 with these values at its core.
“Relancer un savoir-faire français.... valoriser les techniques traditionnelles".
It is rare to find this type of textile production in France for home wear, Charlotte explains many more companies use Warp and Weft weaving, rather than the complex knitwear method used by La Maison de la Maille. This “maille” technique uses a single thread, and from this the designer can create a material, choose compositions, colours, design, transparency, relief, it is a production process which allows you to be extremely creative.
This abundance of creative opportunity is part of what drew Charlotte to learn more about the technique “ we can create very complex designs, and with a finish which is incredibly supple with great flexibility, we can create a soft, heavy textile that you can wrap yourself up in. There are infinite possibilities in what we can design using knitwear” . Charlotte loves the sensory nature of the final product created using this traditional textile method she has specialised in, “the density and weight of it, it’s suppleness”, she says it is very different to other types of wool weaving.
Her dream is to set up a school here in France to teach and pass on the knowledge of “Maille” production.
Storie has selected La Maison de la Maille’s signature blankets, not just because they are beautiful, but because they are made from entirely upcycled fibres. The wool is processed by an independent company in the Tarn region of France that specialises in circular economy. The yarn is formed from recycled off cuts from new knitted garments, a by-product of European knitting workshops.
It’s an especially sustainable way of sourcing wool, and by no means an easy task. The producer deals with large quantities of wool off cuts, it is a challenge creating a consistent textile texture, weight and colour from recycled materials for their collections. Within each blanket there is a margin for up to 5% of other recycled fabrics, the nature of recycling means there may be small quantities of other fibres in the mix. There is also a small quantity of recycled polyamide used to strengthen and add density to the textile.
Using recycled materials is just one aspect of how La Maison de la Maille is committed to sustainable production. All their products are made from natural and eco-friendly wools, and responsible sourcing is vital for the company. Made in France, keeps the carbon footprint of these blankets low, and it also means they use local labour, which protects employment in traditional craft industries. They have worked meticulously on all aspects of production to make sure that the gorgeous pieces they make are of a quality and design which will stand the test of time, whilst shining a light on this precious savoir faire .