Reporting from Toronto, Ismailimail speaks with Shoheb Gwaduri about the products in the gift shop. Ismailimail is also delighted to share a gallery of dozen images. Shoheb Gwaduri, Aga Khan Museum’s Manager of Business Development travelled across the Muslim world to bring unique products for the museum’s gift shop that were specifically designed using the museum’s collections, its architecture, jali motifs and geometry.
“Seventy percent of the products are proprietary and exclusively designed for the Aga Khan Museum (AKM) and only available here,” remarks Gwaduri. “I worked with designers and we took inspiration from His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan’s art collection to create one of a kind pieces” he said proudly showing me beautiful earrings and pins, from Jordan. Brightly colored arabesque patterns on umbrellas, scarfs and ladies bags grab your attention, as one enters the shop.Other beautiful and unique products range from jewelry pieces designed and hand crafted in Jordan incorporating semi-precious stones from Palestine. Colorful Iznik ceramics from Turkey and porcelain products from Spain adorn the shelves in the middle of the store. Scarves from Afghanistan and Jaipur – northern India, populate the walls of the gift shop. Ladies bags from Uzbekistan, pillows from Tajikistan, and more scarves from Kyrgyzstan – all with Central Asian motifs, designed by local crafts people using “generationally passed down” techniques are also featured prominently.
There are toys and books for children. Bamiyan (Afghanistan) bears and donkey hand stitched by women’s collectives fill the top shelf at the back of the shop. Mother of pearl momento boxes, wooden animal toys from Darb al-Ahmar (area adjacent to the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo) fill other shelves. Both the Bamiyan and Cairo products are beneficiaries of AKDN quality of life projects in Afghanistan and Egypt respectively. There are wooden alphabet blocks in Arabic, Farsi, French and Japanese (Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre is next door to AKM).
There are shelves full of books on art, calligraphy, architecture and other topics. Beautifully carved bookends from Afghanistan lend support to colorful art books.
For men, there are Italian silk ties with AKM motifs and beautiful cufflinks.
Many other products remain to be discovered and Ismailimail encourages everyone to visit the gift store to discover more treasures. An on-line store will be coming soon.
All images copyright Ismailimail
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