Kutnia: In Touch with Tradition
When we think of touch, we might think of holding hands. Or the physical intimacy, the human warmth of skin contact with a lover, a child, an old friend. But in reality, our fingertips spend the day tap-tap-tapping on glass screens.
Most of our communication is linked to the sensation of thrumming our digits repeatedly on the little plastic squares of our keyboards. If we do move away from our laptops, we find ourselves holding cards to Oyster readers and cash machines. Even food, in a big city full of tired commuters, often arrives in a takeaway container, so we aren’t even handling fresh ingredients. No matter how stocked our local supermarkets, we are still starved. Starved of touch.
However, there is one delightfully simple everyday way we can all stimulate this much-overlooked sense: wear clothes that feel right. This is something Zeynep, the art director at Kutnia, understands instinctively. ‘It’s important that you meet the fabric,’ she says softly.
You may not have heard of Kutnia yet, but this Turkish brand, which produces homewear and womenswear collections from traditional Kutnu material, is worth committing to memory. As Forbes notes, it’s ‘becoming instantly recognisable in the same way Scotland’s Harris Tweed or Italy’s Missoni’.
Kutnu, a superior textile once worn by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, is native to the city of Gaziantep, in South-eastern Anatolia, Turkey, and is notoriously difficult to produce. The fabric combines pure silk warp and cotton weft to create its distinctive striped patterns, using a shuttle weaving technique on wooden whip-drawn looms. There are many more – equally intricate – steps, such as the threading of 5,000 to 7,000 strands by hand through the loom. Every stage of the process necessitates its own master craftsman, and the final product is the sum work of many artisans, whose combined expertise create the fabled fabric.
The fabric combines pure silk warp and cotton weft
Along with the little-known background of this traditional textile, there’s the little-known backstory of the brand, for Kutnia has a distinct social agenda. Launched in 2018, the founder Jülide Konukoğlu’s vision was to preserve the craft and introduce it to contemporary customers. Kutnu, once amongst Gaziantep’s top commercial exports, was dying out. Mass-production was taking over and younger generations, reluctant to learn their father’s trade, were choosing to move to bigger cities and seek their fortunes there. This was a trend Kutnia set out to reverse, and today it employs an inter-generational workforce of over 100 locals. Precious knowledge has been saved, and considerable investment has been made into research and development to adapt the heritage fabric and make it more practical for modern design.
Now you may not know this colourful history when you pick up one of Kutnia’s pieces. But that doesn’t matter. You’ll feel the sleek, glossy, breathable fabric, and find yourself tracing the famous stripes across a cushion, or perhaps on a robe. The quality reveals itself.
In a city like London, who’s brand colour has got to be a kind of pigeon grey, owning something as exultantly vibrant as Kuntia’s designs says that you will not be subdued. It says the rat race hasn’t contaminated your childlike love of beauty. True Kutnu is bright and luminous, radiant as a summer meadow. Or as Zeynep describes it, ‘the identity of the brand is joyful, effortless, elegant. It’s also fun. It says, come and touch me.’
If you’d like to experience Kutnu fabric for yourself (and we do recommend it), Kutnia is currently available in Harrods, Home & Furniture Interiors, Third Floor.