Passa Paa, the designs and traditions of Laos

Passa Paa emerged from Laos, Luang Prabang to be precise. A city on Unesco’s World Heritage list, situated in the middle of the luscious jungle on the banks of the Mekong. It is within this idyllic setting that the English designer Heather Smith chose to establish her brand of textile accessories. For around ten years she journeyed to the country to visit her sister Joanna Smith, cofounder of Ock Pop Tok, a weaving workshop inspired by traditional Laotian textiles.
Passa Paa
After a Masters in Textile Design from the Chelsea Design School and the beginnings of a career in London, Heather Smith decided to create her own collections. Fascinated by what she had discovered from the textile craftsmanship of different ethnic groups in Laos and the infinite richness of their patterns, it was only natural that she decided to set up her creative studio in Luang Prabang at the end of 2011.
Hand made, patterned and with a clear modernity, that is how we could simply describe the essence of Passa Paa.
For her first collection, the designer was inspired by batik patterns and the embroideries of the Hmong culture. Heather Smith explores and deconstructed the traditional symbols of this tribe to develop pieces with delicate graphics, far from the established idea of ethnic textiles.
Passa Paa
Passa Paa
Her credo is to draw on the authentic roots of local know-how whilst also adding a contemporary touch. Lamps, mural panels, cushions, bags, wraps and note books… A minimalist exoticism in black, white and red, her products mix rustic materials (printed hemp or cotton) with luxury elements, for example black leather detailing.
Passa Paa
The notion of design is still rather unknown to the country. To make her collection, Heather Smith had to establish a printing workshop, as none previously existed in Laos, and she fully trained one of her collaborators to dominate this skill. In her team the designer is also surrounded by a weaver with expert knowledge and a young Laotian who helps her with the Hmong women who work in the villages. Passa Paa seems to be a project of transmitting knowledge, a successful fusion between East and West, a very promising hyphen between two worlds.
Passa Paa
www.passa-paa.com