Two Swedish designers and their first journey to Tunisia

We have already told the story of how House of Rym became House of Rym here. But we wanted to hear designer Anna Backlund’s own story, and find out more about her experiences and impressions from that special week in Tunisia in october 2011.

Tell us how the journey started, after you’d been headhunted by that ”mysterious” export company in Tunis?

Only three weeks after Rym first contacted me, Elisabeth Dunker and I was on a flight to Tunisia. I’m always up for new adventures but Elisabeth needed some persuasion to get on board, says Anna and continues:

– We arrived in Tunis late that night, after a few hours delay. Our luggage had been lost on the way and we were quite unsure if the strange Tunisian couple would be waiting for us. But then we saw them and we had no trouble figuring out who in the midst of the big crowd were Rym and Zied. So full of anticipation, so beautiful and with such big, warm smiles. Both Elisabeth and I fel in love instantly.

Days filled with new experiences and inspiration

The next morning we pulled away the curtains in the hotel room and were totally blown away by the beauty of Tunisia. Everything was so bright, the heaven and the buildings kind of melted together. The air was full of magic. Rym and Zied picked us up and took us to meet a man named Tarek, Tarek and his father own a weaving mill, specialized in foutas. It was so exciting to see them working on the weaving looms.We learned so much about weaving during that visit and we took about 350 000 photos, Anna laughs.

The next day was designated to traditional ceramics handcraft. We got to see millions of beautifully hand-painted pots but none of them really caught our interest. So we gently asked if there maybe was a porcelain manufacturer around, since both of us had been wanting to make porcelain patterns for quite some time. A few phone calls and a couple of hours later, we were strolling around in Tunis’ most renowned porcelain factory. I was almost in a haze of creativity. It was such a dream only to get the insights on how the machine works.

A whole world of handcrafts

I have my degree in textile arts and I love doing it since it’s an amazingly meditative process. But I’ve always had the desire to make my designs more available and to decorate other people’s homes. This journey really gave me an opportunity, almost so good to be true.
The rest of the week we visited a number of skilled artisans, Rym and Zied guided us in our quest for inspiration and fulfilled all our wishes. They took us to places so breathtaking, and all we wanted was to freeze and prolong each moment. Like Sidi bou said, the white and blue town with the beautiful name. We were totally mesmerized by the places, the language, the light and the immense generosity of our hosts.

From idea and design to brand

When our amazing journey finally was coming to an end, we met up at the office to decide on how to proceed with the design and production of the fouta towels. Instead we decided to create a whole collection of foutas, tea and coffee set, rugs and olive wood products. Rym and Zied were really positive to our suggestion about how to build a real brand. We wanted a logotype, nice packaging, a website and catalogue.

We went back home to Sweden and worked days and nights to put the first collection togehter. Then we gathered our most talented friends and contacts. Fia Miari was assigned as our Art Director and she’s designed our great logo. Maria Melkersson is our copywriter who helps us o find the right words and comes up with our products quirky names. And finally Sarah Gust did her great work behind the camera. Simply a deam tream!

We named the brand House of Rym as an hommage to the adorable woman who is the engine in this project. A project sprung from a head over heals kind of infatuation. Infatuation for people, handcrafts and Tunisia.
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