Despite how it may seem, I am a housecoat and when work seasons get intense, I appreciate my time at home that little bit more. Being home means getting the chance to get “sit in” of everyday life, which feels a blessing when I’ve lost that sense of normalcy for a few weeks. That’s part of why I wanted to re-decorate my home in a way that made it feel almost like a sanctuary, an oasis. And finding a brand with a traveller’s heart like Notre Monde made all the difference!
Founded by American self-taught artist Dawn Sweitzer in 1997, Notre Monde designs stem from her art and travels. Her biggest inspirations are cultures from around the world, and she pours her experience with colours and the feelings evoked by certain places into her art. Back in 2013, Notre Monde became part of the larger Ethnicraft Group, thus expanding its reach. The merger also gave Notre Monde a new crew of artisans from all over the world, most particularly from their large factory in Java, Indonesia. Notre Monde works towards doing everything in-house: designing, producing and distributing its products.
As a brand, Notre Monde feeds on travel and the small, great things in life as inspiration. In every item of their home collections, you’ll find a glimpse of a lived life, taken from world cultures, in particular any persons’ love of the finer things. The brands’ designs mix patterns, textures and layers from all over the planet with great skill. Fashion is at the centre of Notre Monde, with a clear love for the aesthetically pleasing and the use of colours as windows to emotions. There’s a noticeably big effort to combine high-quality and sustainable materials with enough quantity, whilst ensuring a fair price down the line.
Every item in the Notre Dame shop, be it a tray, an accent table, a mirror or breathtaking wall art, is made to last. Notre Monde isn’t in the business of fast furniture (yes that really exists): and through beautiful and sturdy materials, the brand seeks to create timeless designs that will nonetheless reflect the specific moment of their built. Even more interestingly, this is a fully artisanal brand: every item is made by hand, built by expert craftspeople that follow traditional, green manufacturing techniques. This doesn’t just provide more work to highly skilled crafters, but also means a much more direct approach to quality control. Everything in the shop is handled about 10 times, seen through several pairs of eyes, ensuring that every detail is well-made and harmonious.
As part of the Ethnicraft Group, Notre Monde is also deeply committed to sustainability as a key component of its business. They use wood solely sourced from sustainably managed forests – where there’s a track record of which trees can be cut, and when replanting start. Plus, since everything is handmade, there are more people adding craftsmanship to Notre Monde items. They also use non-chemical paints whenever possible, keeping their organization as green as possible.
One of the features that sets Notre Monde apart from other furniture brands, is its commitment to a safe work environment. Firstly, they’ve made sure to hire highly trained artisans for every part of their manufacturing process, for the best outcome in their products. Second and most importantly, the workers are treated fairly in every possible way, from compensation in tune with their knowledge to activities beyond the factory, humane schedules and growth opportunities within the business.
Artistry and functionality are the two key terms that bring Notre Monde together as a brand. Conceptually, it seeks to bring a splash of luxury into home décor, by having original staple pieces to show some character. As this is a fully manufactured endeavour, no two Notre Monde pieces are quite the same – something I absolutely love! The look of each tray, their most popular product, is different from the rest, making for unique and beautiful pieces.
Our society is growingly concerned with living a more sustainable life – and rightly so. However, many might step away from taking the leap into eco practices over fears of sacrificing their preferences as consumers. The idea remains that purchasing sustainable furniture also means trading off design, look, or price. Notre Monde is highly aware of this misconception, and it’s one of the reasons they’ve kept their processes close to home, avoiding third parties at all costs. The brand’s current production chain makes it possible for them to offer beautiful and sustainable products in a way that lets the company profit and their customers enjoy deluxe items.
Notre Dame is a cute, specialised brand of home décor that takes a very hands-on approach to production, from its conscious picks of materials to worker rights and even distribution. Between their commitment to a more sustainable industry and their beautiful, unique designs, Notre Monde is the type of brand I wish to see more of in the coming years!