About us

Beautiful handmade fabric homewares and accessories that weave English and Middle Eastern heritage into the designs.

As a newcomer to Kuwait, it’s very easy to assume there’s not much more to the place than fast food outlets and even faster cars. So, having lived in Yemen, Zimbabwe and Sudan between us, arriving in Kuwait was a bit of cultural shock.

But dig a little deeper and Kuwait, like all of these places, starts to reveal her lesser-known gems – especially for us womenfolk: Bedu weaving, a rich culture of ornately embroidered gowns, and a material souk that can only be described as eye candy extraordinaire. And that’s only the beginning…

As wives of diplomats we have transient lives, gleaning experiences – sometimes cultural, sometimes just plain mad – as we go. It’s one of the best things about the slightly peculiar, disjointed life that we lead. One thing was certain about Kuwait: a glut of KFC and golden arches wasn’t going to put us off our stride.

And so Blake James Designs was conceived, by a pool, desperately seeking respite from the scorching summer sun, on a 52˚C morning at the end of June 2012. Between juggling (melting) armbands, (melting down) children and (molten) chocolate biscuits, we decided it was high time to embrace the other side of Kuwait, whilst putting into practice some of our long held personal aspirations. Bridget started her career as a teacher, and following on from having four children, had an ‘itch’ to become a product designer. Whereas SJ has worked in senior roles in a number of small businesses since quitting her job as a management consultant, but never started one, despite hankering after doing so. Blake James Designs had just begun.

There wasn’t much need for discussion about what we were all about, what we would do, and what we would make. It seemed obvious from the outset. We would take Kuwait’s rich textile, embroidery and weaving culture, draw on our English heritage and weave it into that of the Middle East to make useful, hardwearing – and beautiful – fabric homewares and accessories.

There’s an expression in Arabic ‘cul shay mumkin’ – everything is possible – and indeed it is. Blake James Designs has become a reality, not just soon-forgotten idle chat. Moreover it’s taken us on an delightful and often extraordinary journey that has included drinking sweet tea with Bedu weavers over a loom strung with camel’s wool; interviewing seamstresses in the supermarket washing powder aisle; braving hair raising Kuwaiti driving to seek out Kuwaiti museums, icons and culture for inspiration; regular forays into the depths of the fabric souk – attracting many a curious audience along the way; and finally, stitching and cutting into the wee small hours.

We hope you enjoy looking at what we’ve been up to – get in touch to give us your feedback or share any thoughts.

Bridget & SJ

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