Camino fair trade chocolate

I helped rebrand Camino chocolate in Canada. Camino means path/road in spanish so we based the packaging on maps. Interestingly, the original meaning of ‘trade’ also means path or ‘tread’. The lovely packaging was designed by Karacters in Vancouver and i got the very important job of drawing funny little fellas all over it.
Have a look at Camino’s website, (their chocolate range is amazing, v interesting flavours) or read more about the project on blog
By | 2017-09-02T02:23:11+00:00 November 24th, 2010|Tags: , |1 Comment

My rugs are in London!

My fair trade carpets have finally arrived!
I did them as samples when i was in Nepal a few months back.
Take a look at the blogpost about making them here
If anyone would like to help stock them please get in touch
I have just set up a new website for these carpets
please take a look at
to view and order…
By | 2017-09-02T02:23:12+00:00 November 10th, 2010|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments

Mahaguthi, Tulsi Mehar and a lost Owl.

Mahaguthi ‘Craft with a Conscience’ has the most interesting history of all the fair trade groups in Nepal. I had read about their work many years ago and had always wanted to work with them. I want to give a bit about their history because i think it sums up much of what fair trade is about. It was started by the legendary social reformer Tulsi Mehar in 1923. In the early 20th century Nepal had a very rigid caste and social structure, only the high caste men were educated and literate. Mehar campaigned against this inequality and for his vocal anti-establishment ideas he was thrown out of Nepal by the Nepalese Rana government and ended up exiled in India. His search for truth and equality led him to Mahatma Gandhi and they worked together for many years. His time with Gandhi gave him an opportunity to gain insight to the liberation of the underprivileged. In a system where there are no opportunities for women to bring in money for themselves they must rely on their husbands and fathers. Without the means to improve their own lives women’s situations can be very restrictive and this can be hugely problematic if there is domestic violence or abuse. Mehar and Gandhi’s vision for reform was to empower women through education and income generation projects so that they can become economically self-reliant. Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister of Nepal to ask him to let Mehar back into the country. Once back in Kathmandu in 1923 and with a donation from Gandhi, Mehar set up the spinning and weaving develop
ment project that became Mahaguthi. It was not only the first social development project in Nepal but was actually among the first ever manufacturing units in the economically closed feudal country.
Mahaguthi currently takes on 90 new women annually (most are widows or victims of domestic abuse) to train them in literacy and employable skills and school their children as well as supporting a hospital.


I have written and illustrated a children’s book ‘A Bit Lost’ with Borim Press and Walker books and I had the idea to create a small fair trade soft toy to sell along with the book that could be entirely made from scratch by the women at Mahaguthi. The toy is entirely made from raw cotton, using all the traditional cottage industry techniques that Gandhi made famous. It is hand-spun into yarn, dyed, hand-woven and finally sewn all by the women at Mahaguthi.

Gandhi and Tulsi Mehar Shresta


The women in the womens shelter learn to spin and weave and the profits from their crafts are used to support and educate themselves and their children as well as supporting a hospital
Some of the children of the women from Mahaguthi’s women’s shelter
Some of the younger children can’t read their names yet. Interesting system
Some of the women employed at Mahaguthi are deaf or disabled. This is the sign you do when you take Monday off…..’Im outta here. Peace’


a few images from the classroom


this guy is having a really bad banana. not nice.

…..storytime ……YAY!
This is the small hospital funded by Mahaguthi’s profits, you can see the portraits of Gandhi and Mehar
This is their ambulance believe it or not. Ambulances come in interesting shapes and sizes in Nepal. And colours!
The front cover of the book
Some owl designs. I wanted to try some different options with the stitching. I needed to make the owl a little flat so that it can still pack together with the book. I think it would sell best as a gift idea together with the book rather than as a separate item.
Sewing and designing the first prototypes with Chandrigarh

All the Ullu’s! The Hindi word for ‘owl’ is ‘ullu’ which is also the word you use if you want to call someone stupid. Owls are thought of as stupid in India and Nepal, the opposite to how they are seen in the west. My owl is definitely a Nepali ‘ullu’ rather than a western owl. Actually I have become known as ullu-man in the Mahaguthi office (!).Thanks very much to Sumitra, Anita, Chandigarh and Uttara (also to Ono and Sunil who arent here)

*UPDATE* they are now available from my new shop here




Kumbeshwar Technical School Carpets

Through People Tree I was introduced to the really excellent Kumbeshwar Technical School I posted about them a little earlier here. Like Mahaguthi they support and train lower caste women and also men. They also support a large school of 260 and an orphanage of 19 children. I have been having exhibitions of my digital illustration work from time to time, i have been converting the files to screens and screen printing them or simply printing them digitally.
I saw the opportunity to collaborate with KTS. They make these amazing natural hand-spun Tibetan wool carpets. The carpet making process is quite similar to the pixel make up of digital images so as many of my images are quite flat with few colours so I had the idea of producing some of my designs as carpets. Together with Satyendra and the design team we found a way to covert digital images directly to carpet graphs which will hopefully make the design process a little easier.
Im really excited about the possibilites with designing carpets though, could be great.
I have just set up a new website for these carpets
to view and order please take a look at
Technical training for the adults. KTS have a facility to produce knitware, carpets and also furniture, and they provide training to their workers
From their profits they also fund a school of 260…
…and an orphanage of 19 children
The first test grid i made digitally (i managed to mess up and specify C31 (beige) instead of C30 (black)…. Chris you idiot!!!! 
it worked ok though!
some details in production
and some designs ……more to come
I will post more about this soon when the first batch of carpets comes through.
If you want to order or enquire about a carpet please mail me …..chris (at) vegetablefriedrice (dot) com
By | 2017-09-02T02:23:24+00:00 August 6th, 2010|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Getting involved with Fair Trade: some information for designers

Some people have mailed me to ask how I got in contact with the Fair Trade groups etc so i thought I should explain it a bit here.


There is two main certification marks that govern fair trade. The first is the FLO mark on the left above, it oversees commodities such as coffee/tea/fruit and is the most widely recognised. The second is the WFTO mark which oversees the more complex fair trade manufacturing certification. Clothing/stationery/handicrafts any manufactured goods etc all come under this mark so it is the place to go for designers looking to create and manufacture designs and products.
I always wonder why it is the Fair Trade raw commodity mark is so widely recognised but the Fair Trade manufacturing mark isn’t as well known. Mainly perhaps because the Fair Trade raw commodity mark products can sell themselves without much help from design (coffee, tea etc need nothing more than a packet) but fair trade manufactured products aren’t as easy because they heavily rely on design. There are great companies such as People Tree that are doing their bit to show that its possible to do great designs in fair trade, but in general I think its clear that there still isn’t enough great design. Why isn’t it everywhere?  More than 50% of coffee sold in the UK is fair trade and still rapidly growing but in clothing it is less than one percent. If there were more it would be a huge force in poverty reduction and the main thing I see holding it back is design.
Having worked myself in advertising and commercial design for a long time I had become very disillusioned in the world and business of design, and I am very grateful to the people I have met in Fair Trade who have reminded me again what good design can be. There are some amazing traditional crafts and hand made objects that just cannot be produced industrially that lend themselves if designed nicely to really beautiful high-end design products. Textile designers in particular would be blown away. Not only that but I have met some pretty amazing and inspiring people. It has been a great opportunity for me to take some time to do something a bit different that is generated by myself rather than commissioned and it has led my design work into lots of new and unexpected directions.
For anyone who is thinking about getting involved they can go straight to the WFTO website here and contact producer groups all over the world by region/country or by product type. Literally anything you can think of (that can be non-industrially manufactured) can be made somewhere by some co-operative. You can also join them on facebook here 
If you have any other questions please leave a comment below.
Some amazing hand-woven fabric swatches from ACP. The craftsmanship and work here is just mind-blowing. The stuff you could do with this….!
Even just very simple screen prints work so well on hand-woven fabrics
bag prints…
and some soft toys.
By | 2017-09-02T02:24:06+00:00 July 5th, 2010|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

My OFFSET talk. basically.

The talk I gave in Dublin at the Offset series of talks has been put online.

I get a little bit better after the first few mins…. oh dear….

Thanks so much to everyone at OFFSET for putting on such a great event. Its probably the best series of design talks ive seen together anywhere.  It was an amazing honour to speak at it. Many of the other talks are now online. David Shrigley’s one is really funny.

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

People Tree prototypes

I have just been working on some fair trade soft toys here in Nepal with ACP

We still have to iron out a few things …probably going to shrink them in size a little… but hopefully they will be available in autumn 2011 from Peopletree


new nepali words of the day: ‘bandha sukya’ = ‘monkey finished’










Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 00.51.44













By | 2017-09-02T02:24:10+00:00 June 2nd, 2010|Tags: , , |2 Comments