#FairnessFirst: Sipping on local craftsmanship with the Trenery Guild x Imiso collaboration

On 21 October, the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the Cavendish Square branch of Trenery, with the sound of laughter and clinking flutes of bubbly amplifying the 'celebration atmosphere', as the store launched their collaboration with Imiso Ceramic Studio's internationally renowned artist and cofounder Zizipho Poswa, with a curated coffee and clay-inspired immersive experience.
Imiso Ceramic Studio’s internationally renowned artist and cofounder Zizipo Poswa.
Imiso Ceramic Studio’s internationally renowned artist and cofounder Zizipo Poswa.

Elouise Brink, local group marketing manager of Country Road, welcomed attendees to the sensory event and said this was an exclusive preview of sorts as the Trenery Guild x Imiso espresso cup range had just dropped over the weekend, and would be limited to the Cavendish Square branch of Trenery.

She explained Trenery Guild as a local platform launched in February 2018 to celebrate Trenery’s core brand value of sustainability in partnering and collaborating with leading local design talent in South Africa that follow a like-minded process to Trenery.

This stems all the way from sourcing sustainable raw materials to the actual craft and beautiful quality end-product through a commissioned artwork and unique in store activation.

These activations include exhibitions, sensory journeys and in-depth talks, which sit alongside the release of a limited edition gift with purchase; available for qualifying Trenery customers at stand-alone stores nationwide.

Brink added that the collaboration with Imiso – Trenery Guild’s 11th such collaboration – was especially exciting as kiln work is unpredictable, so “It’s almost like you close your eyes and hope what comes out is going to be amazing, as you can’t really control that.” Luckily the end result is quite stunning, and Poswa and her team brought to life the Trenery Guild craftsmanship value.

Handpinched, functional, decorative pieces

Poswa said the warm welcome on the morning made her feel like a real superstar, and in speaking through her personal design process and inspirations, she shared that it took her and her production team two months to complete the 450 hand-pinched items in the collection – the collection wouldn’t be possible without them.

“When Trenery first approached me about this collaboration it felt like a match made in heaven, as I come from a textile design background and could already see numerous design ideas that I couldn't wait to get started on.”

This forward-thinking approach comes as no surprise, as 'Imiso' means 'tomorrow' in isiXhosa.

Poswa says she drew inspiration for the espresso cups from the invigoratingly lush greens and summery taupe tones used from the Trenery October collection, which she also wore on the day, and said the cups aren’t just functional as they can also serve as decorative pieces.

The ten stages of the production process, from weighing to throwing, designing the hand painted motifs and patterns and custom glazing of the cups, were described on the table for attendees to linger over, with Poswa explaining that she enjoyed each and every stage of the process and her hope that everyone who took home the designs would enjoys them as much as she does.

This was complemented by a once-in-a-lifetime coffee tasting by Matt Carter, coffee sustainability manager at TriBeCa Coffee Roasting company, which supplies coffee to Woolworths’ W Cafes and food stores.

Carter served as barista for the morning by providing a Chemex coffee-brewing demonstration and education.

Carter joked that he has the ‘worst job in the world’, as he travels to beautiful places, meets amazing people and buys their coffee.

Carter spoke of the support TriBeCa has given to female coffee farmers like Anna, whose farm in the Usambara Mountains provides for her family and her community and produced the single-origin Kilimanjaro coffee we tasted on the morning – the last they still have in stock from their project celebrating women in coffee, though they continue to buy coffee from Anna, which goes into the co-operative.
It’s a deep, earthy Arabica with hints of sweet cherries, green apples and English toffee that’s now in limited supply.
Carter shared that visiting Anna’s farm means a seven-hour flight followed by a four-hour drive up steep hills that leave Carter and his team thankful for a safe trip each time they arrive.

Help a farmer, sustain a community

They asked how they can make her life better and improve her coffee production process, and so arranged to build a dairy for her – no mean feat as there was no electricity in the area, so everything from digging holes to carrying poles and rocks all the way up the steep mountain was done by hand.

With the dairy built, Anna was gifted with two milk-producing cows – she provides the milk to a local cheese-maker, and signed a memorandum of understanding to in turn gift one of the cows’ calves to a neighbour who helped with the dairy project.

It’s a beautiful story that ties in with the celebration of sustainability and celebrating women in business.

We savoured the story and the coffee made in a fittingly beautiful way, in the 78-year-old Chemex brewing device, which was made popular by TV series Friends and is truly part of pop-culture as Carter shared that it even features at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Brink said this focus on the craft behind the coffee mirrors Trenery’s sourcing process, with Johnny Hamman of catering partner Slippery Spoon said that the morning’s treats, specially created by Slippery Spoon, were designed as a further experience as they took the ‘coffee and clay’ inspiration to heart.

These ranged from a smoked affogato dessert to roosterkoek croissants filled with whipped coffee butter, homemade granola squares, and the most delicious umami vegan miso beetroot waffles.

Jane Grimme, head of design at Trenery, commented on the partnership: “We are incredibly lucky to partner with Zizipho, who is so passionate about creating elevated designs that are not only handcrafted but carefully conceptualised.”

The bespoke Trenery Imiso espresso cups were presented as pairs in a beautifully designed box to limited edition qualifying purchases of over R1,500 in store.

Visit Imiso's curated boutique store in The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock or visit the Imiso website as well as their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds for more of these distinctive clay art designs.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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