“This is a project about nature, about silk dyed with handmade pigments obtained from food waste and plants, and about hand-knitted undyed wool.” - Paula Delgado
Evoking moments of intimate creation and deep connection, ound’s collections consist of garments that are precious to the eye and sensual to the skin. At ound, we specialise in naturally dyed silk dresses and undyed woollen pullovers and cardigans.
All our pieces are one-of-a-kind and can only be made in limited editions. The intricate process of making ensures the precious nature of each of our items. Thoughtful craftsmanship establishes an emotional bond between the garment and the person wearing it. At ound, we believe that the greatest luxury is to be found living in tune with ourselves and in alignment with our values. In this day and age, the real nature of luxury is intimate and lies in simplicity and high quality materials.
ound is an investigative project by designer Paula Delgado. From 2015 to 2017, she spent several months in rural Argentina and Scotland, learning about wool production, weaving and knitting, and teaching herself the art of botanical dye. Paula is inspired by the philosophy of permaculture, a holistic design system for creating harmonious relations between humans, plants, animals, and the Earth, which she translates into a contemporary aesthetic rooted in simplicity and humble luxury. Through her background as a high-level fashion designer for two leading global fast fashion corporations, she gained a profound awareness of the harmful nature of an industry that is based on high-speed turnover, overproduction and waste. With ound, she presents an almost meditative approach and an alternative to a broken system – a thoughtful design practice that is based on an appreciation of materials and matter and evolves and matures over time.
We choose to work only with wool and silk. Two tactile materials that have an intimate feel and are pleasant against the skin. In combination, their properties are enhanced and they perform best in terms of comfort and thermal insulation.
Our hand-knitted pieces are made in Uruguay, a small country in southern South America that is home to exceptional wool and craftsmanship. Besides Australia and New Zealand, Uruguay has some of the finest Merino herds – small in number and with abundant land to graze. Extra fine merino wool has exceptional properties that include fantastic softness, shine and breathability.
Many women in rural Uruguay make their living from wool and have established groups of hand knitters. Through such forms of independent cooperation, the female artisans are able to create work for themselves and provide for their families whilst staying in their home villages and keeping traditional skills alive. At ound, we work with one of the leading groups based in Santa Lucia. They provide us with premium products that meet our high-quality standards of making and finishing. Each of our hand-knitted garments takes three to five days to be crafted and will last a lifetime if handled with care.
Fascinated by the colours of nature, we work exclusively with undyed wool and embrace its natural colour range. We create different colour shades by mixing and hand-knitting our yarns in a variety of ways. Currently, we work with super fine wools from the Merino and Corriedale breeds, and by introducing new qualities to the mix, possibilities become endless. Our wools are free from chemicals, and our yarns are three-ply twisted to minimise pilling.
Our practice is embedded in the process of working with handmade pigments and botanical dyes, one of the oldest crafts of humankind. Before the invention of synthetic dyes a century ago, people gathered materials to make their colours from the land that surrounded them, using the plants and flowers that were in season. At ound, we dye our silk garments with handmade pigments extracted from food waste and plants. This natural technique is preferable to the toxic synthetic dyes that pollute and poison our water streams and soils.
The intricate process of naturally dying a silk garment takes up to two weeks. First, we forage and collect the dye matter. Then, we prepare the garment to absorb the colour, setting up separate baths to avoid contamination and stains. Meticulously placed in the bath, the garment is left in the water for as long as it needs to take in the colour, creating its beautiful patterns of imperfection. The colours obtained in each bath vary in relation to the qualities of the water and the dye matter, connecting each piece to the time and place where it came into being. Afterwards, the colour must rest for a week to improve its fastness, before the garment is washed and ironed. Natural colours tend to be pH-sensitive but, if handled with care, colour fastness is as good as industrially-dyed garments.
Printing with flower petals is an even more delicate process. We forage Wild Tinctoria flowers during spring and early summer and individually place the fresh petals on the garments to create a pattern – a labour of love to obtain the pure essence and delicacy of nature.