Ecosophy is a homeware brand specialising in textile items that are thoughtfully designed and sustainably made. With a focus on organic fibres, natural dyes and artisanal techniques, we design products that highlight the elegance of natural materials and the artistry of human touch. Working directly with farmers, dyers and weavers, we use production methods that support rural livelihoods and environmental regeneration. We believe good design is rooted in connection - to materials, their provenance and the people who make them. By designing products that celebrate these connections, we hope to show how textiles can create beautiful homes and a more beautiful world.
Ecosophy was founded by Katie Anderson, who has a background in anthropology and a life-long love of interior design. Inspired by her studies of artistic traditions around the world, which often use decoration as a tool for connecting different realms, she decided to explore how decor could be used to create positive connections between our homes and the wider world. After studying design and its potential to create positive change, she set off on a journey that took her through India, Bangladesh and South-East Asia, meeting with farmers and artisanal groups who were pioneering sustainable forms of production. Partnerships with these groups soon followed, and Ecosophy was officially born.
Ecosophy's vision is hinted at in its name, which combines eco (from the Greek oikos meaning household) and sophy (from sophia meaning wisdom). This dual meaning of 'ecological wisdom' and 'household wisdom' reflects our goal, which is to help our customers make ecologically wise choices when decorating their homes.
Ecological wisdom is, at its heart, about relationship. It is about recognising that we are part of a web of connections - to plants, animals and people - and that living in a way that is mindful of these connections is good for ourselves and our planet. In our digital age, it is easy to feel disconnected from our environment, but by decorating our homes with products that are made of natural materials, inspired by natural patterns and produced in ways that benefit people and the planet, we can create a space that reconnects us to the world and brings us back to our senses.
Ecosophy's product range is focused on textiles as they represent concrete and symbolic links between our homes and the wider world. Just as a piece of fabric is woven together, textiles symbolise the inter-wovenness of our globalised world, connecting us to farmers, weavers, and communities of wildlife on the land and in the soil. The textile industry is one of the largest industries in the world and its potential to affect the world in both a positive and a negative way is huge. We want to harness the positive side of this potential and show how responsible textile production can create not only beautiful homes, but also a more beautiful world.
We are inspired by natural patterns and materials, and we believe beauty comes from designing with nature rather than against it. For this reason, we work with natural fibres only, which have been produced in the most sustainable way possible. We also, where possible, use natural dyes and work with artisans rather than factories.
For further information on our production process, see below.
We use natural fibres only, which have been produced in the most sustainable way possible. Natural fibres biodegrade fairly easily, so do not have the same negative consequences for the environment as synthetic fibres at the end of their lives. However, they can take their toll on the environment at production stage through the pesticides and chemical fertilisers used in their cultivation. We therefore try to use fibres that are either recycled or have been cultivated in an organic or ecologically sensitive manner.
NATURAL & LOW IMPACT DYES
With the exception of our bed linen and towels, which are dyed with GOTS-approved chemical dyes, all of our products are dyed with pigments from plants or other natural sources. Our focus on natural dyes is due partly to their aesthetic appeal. Unlike synthetic dyes, which produce a flat, uniform colour, natural dyes have a multi-sensual appeal, exuding a faint fragrance and revealing subtle but deep colours that morph into different shades over time. At a microscopic level, they are made up of many colours, making them soothing to look at.
Natural dyes also offer social and environmental benefits. When produced sustainably, they do not pollute the environment and some contribute to environmental regeneration, while providing a source of income to people in rural areas.
Read more: natural dyes
With the exception of our bed linen fabric, which is too large for a handloom so must be woven on a power loom, all of our products are woven by hand, and in many cases, the fibres have been spun by hand. The Indian term for this fabric is khadi.
Hand weaving is an art form that requires a lot of time and skill, hence its higher cost versus machine production. But unlike the uniform look of machine-made textiles, hand weaving results in fabrics that have a unique character and one-of-a-kind feel. Hand weaving also offers a sustainable form of livelihood as it usually requires no electricity or other carbon-intensive inputs. It is therefore a useful livelihood option in rural areas of developing countries where there is often no electricity and there are few sources of income outside of agriculture.
Read more: hand weaving
Textile production is a complicated process, with many actors playing different roles, from the farmers who grow the fibre to the weavers and dyers who create the fabric, and, finally, to the people who stitch it into the final product. When designing a new collection, we visit as many of these actors as possible and spend time with them so that we understand how, where and by whom our collections are made. We then communicate this to our customers so that you gain some insight into the people and processes behind our products.
Photo: Mukesh at Magan Sangralaya explaining to me the baling stage of cotton production