In 2010, husband and wife team Hamidou Diallo and Tuulia Makinen Diallo, and also business partners, formed Tensira a company that offers contemporary home linens and fashion accessories. What makes their products unique is the fusion between Nordic design and traditional West-African craftmanship.
Hamidou hails from Guinea where his mother was an indigo dyer for more than 40 years .Early on, he knew that this skill set that he learned would be put to use in a future business venture. In 2003, Hamidou finished his studies in Finland where he met Tuulia, Tensira’s artistic director. Tuulia, a native of Finland, grew up with her architect father, immeresed in the Scandinavian design scene. In 2005, the couple traveled to Paris to complete further studies in textile merchandising and economoics.
In an email, Tuulia wrote, “Tensira is a story of encounters between Hamidou and me, but also Guinean, Finnish, and French cultures.” She adds, “The mission behind Tensira was to create long-lasting employment for West-African craft communities.”
This goal became slowly became a reality when the couple opened their first workshop in 2011, employing a handful of artisan and now currently work with more than 40 collaborations who work full-time at their shop weaving, dyeing, and sewing. “We also work with 60 independent artisans who specialize in indigo dyeing and kapok shelling for our range of Kapok mattresses and cushions.” In addition providing full-time employment opportunities, the company is a firm believer of carrying craft traditions forward to younger generations and provides a vocational school in their workshop in Guinea for young people who want to learn to weave."
Tensira is recognized for its specific themes in their collections that are inspired by architecture and art exhibits in Paris. “Our goal is always to bring something new to each collection, but also at the same time our collections stay very timeless and classic. Our Fall/Winte 2015 collection was called “Blue & Black, where we introduced new black tie-dyes that we combined with indigos. Spring-Summer 2016 collection was called Escape, we presented new pastel soft tones, mint, blush and soft grey in the stripe and plain fabrics,” according to Tuulia.
Like many new companies, Tensira experienced growing pains. Early on when the opened their doors, the company only worked with independent artisans which did not provide them with full control over the production process. This was rectified once they were able to open their own workshop and be hands on with the entire process from lead times to quality control. And then there’s a major coup—collaborating with the French design icon Ines de la Fressange. The entire collection includes cushions, throws and bed covers, tote bags, table linens as well as aprons and mattresses.
Tensira currently works with several clients in the United States including ABC Carpets and Home in New York, Amber Interiors and Furbish online, and Garde in Clifornia. To meet new buyers, Tensira will be attending the upcoming Artisan Resource at NY NOW from August 21-24 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Tensira will have on exhibit their Fall/Winter 2016 collection, “Journey” inspired by the many travels throughout Europe and Africa as well as the collaborative effort with Ines de la Fressange.
For more information, visit www.tensira.com.