Twenty Five Market stands for mastering an old and yet contemporary craft of tapestry and rug making, by using a needle and the nowadays available individual tufting tools. Mina Kaljević is the name behind the merging of handmade woollen objects with thinking of the contemporary society, actively exploring the notions of social entrepreneurship.
Mina recognizes the potential of (traditional) textile crafts for instigating economic empowerment, leaning on the long tradition that wool work has in female emancipation in Serbia, especially in the central and western region of the country. Twenty Five Market offers workshops for the users of social services.
Wools is roots, wool is home.
Although trained as a multimedia artist working with metal, she finally chose wool as her main material. As she says, “wool is my roots, my sense of home and origin,” and she creates objects that give the foundation of a home and grounding under our feet. She is a self-taught tapestry maker, mastering handwork with a needle or hand tufting “gun.” Mina produces objects on commission, but under the name of Twenty Five Market she makes objects in her signature style – specific motives (reoccurring smiley face) and colour. She uses organic and degradable materials – organic wool and water-based glue, making objects that need to be handled with care. Mina brings together a traditional craft and material on the one hand, and contemporary shapes on the other, always with an emphasis on the potentials for social and economic emancipation, which can come from the two. Her goal is to use the upcoming status of a “traditional” craftsperson for establishing a social entrepreneurship business structure.
The area of the Design District has a specific history of its own, being one of the first open-air shopping malls, built in 1989. Twenty Five Market shop space and Mina’s workshop are merged together within a former 1990s boutique, bringing the post-modern feel of the combined Egyptian and Roman motives to the exhibited smaller and larger smiley-faced rugs hanging on the walls.
Most of the space is taken by the 2x2-metre wooden frame with a stretched canvas. Within the same space, Mina winds the wool, makes tapestries and rugs, stores the objects and materials, and constructs her shopwindow.
The workspace has an abundance of natural light that is reflected from the mirrored walls, which were installed by the previous owner but are exceptionally handy for Mina’s production, as she can see both the front and the back side of the canvas while working.
The craft of producing tapestry and rugs in techniques other than weaving is in the Serbian context largely connected to industrial production, which explains the lack of a traditional name for this craft (even though it is officially recognized as such). However, with the disappearance of industrial production during the 1990s, a significant room was left for developing hand crafts that can yield these types of products. With hand tufting “guns” becoming vastly available in 2018, the craft of tufting became an actual possibility.
The two techniques produce different types of nodding and final finish – a robust knot design and the “fluffy” feeling rugs (if not trimmed). She uses mainly organic wool and water-based glues for fixing and backing her products, making them as eco-friendly as possible). Both techniques require inserting the wool yarn on the primary base, with the needle creating loops of uncut yarn, and with the tufting “gun” inserting an additional thread of wool which does not need further cutting. The result of both techniques is a rich and dense surface.
She produces finely trimmed rugs, with everyday motives and slang sentences, which places her pieces in the realm between crafts and arts, depending on the intention of the buyer. The selected dominant size of the pieces makes them equally usable as a floor covering and as a wall rug (as decoration or artwork). Mina produces rugs on commission as well, making craftmanship the focal point, and in this case the pivotal importance of the (social) context of her work is temporarily placed as secondary. Alongside rug and tapestry making, Mina structured workshops as one of her products, offering the materials and knowhow to anyone interested. The model of knowledge transfer that she offers aligns with her vision of social entrepreneurship as well as with the contemporary ideas of the accessibility of gaining skills and knowledge – not the guild-like upbringing of new craftspeople, but self-teaching as the principle of learning and mastering skills.
Twenty Five Market creates rugs and tapestries in the size range of up to 2x2 m, with circular rugs of 40-centimetre diameter being the most recognizable type. The reoccurring motive of the stylized smiley face is the signature mark of Mina’s rugs, as is the usually striking colour composition