We first crossed paths with leading Paris-based designer Tilmann Grawe in 2012 when he came to Azerbaijan for a photo shoot that featured his designs modelled against landscapes that ranged from the prehistoric to the very latest in luxury hotels. He had also produced the Azerbaijan-themed Ulduz Buta designer doll for UNICEF’s annual fundraising auction in France (see Visions Sep-Dec 2012, http://is.gd/AZaw9k).

His enthusiasm for the country and its culture has waned not a jot, as evidenced by excited texts that arrived just as lay out on this issue was being finalized. How could we refuse? Tilmann’s headgear has previously graced the locks of Lady Gaga, and here we present his latest creation, inspired he says by the enormously creative Azerbaijani carpet makers of Karabakh.

Inspiration also came from sound. Go to Youtube and you will see Tilmann’s design displayed to the haunting voice of Tajir Shahmalioghlu’s interpretation of a Bayati Shiraz mugham.

For more on the origins of his work, let the designer explain:

I was very touched by the carpet art of Azerbaijan that I discovered during my last trip to Baku, by the exhibition and the passion of the people. Later I saw the wonderful exhibition in Paris in the presence of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, again with wonderful carpets from the different regions and in different styles. I am very sensitive to the graphic design of the carpets of Karabakh. At the same time I am familiar with the situation of Karabakh and I just felt that it is important to keep the tradition connected to the present through this difficult time. That’s what I tried to do by interpreting my headgear ‘Choucha’ (Shusha). It is green, blue and purple. Choucha is a graphic, like 3-dimensional lace. The form is also inspired by traditional heads and I am always trying to turn it into a contemporary shape. The coins that are traditionally used at the front are now metal rings. The materials I used are plexi, aluminium covered with crystal from Swarovski and Swarovski crystal beads. The aluminium elements are in my logo shape. I call them ‘Tilmannchen.’ The splendid voice of the boy singer is a perfect mix of its roots with a contemporary vision.