Media Release

22 August 2011


Kylie Kwong’s Oxfam tableware range revealed


Kylie Kwong has launched her first ever signature range of tableware, created in conjunction with Oxfam Australia and produced by one of Oxfam’s fair trade producer partners in Vietnam.


Kylie drew upon her own graphics background to come up with the striking “Lotus” range, which comprises soup and rice bowls with matching plates, a soup spoon, a teapot and teacup and a coffee cup. The ceramic exterior of the range is charcoal-coloured and features a hand-painted pink lotus flower design, while the inner surface of the range is a deep jade green.


“I wanted to create a design that was not only aesthetically pleasing but which also had great depth and a wonderful story to it,” Ms Kwong said.


“As part of my inspiration I looked towards the symbol of the lotus flower. To me the lotus is such a deep and meaningful symbol, which represents femininity, spirituality, and the importance of nature and the environment.”


Whilst formally launched today, MasterChef viewers may recognise some items from the recent episode featuring Kylie and the Dalai Lama, for which Oxfam supplied advanced samples of Kylie’s range and other fair trade products.


Oxfam Australia’s Director of Trading Nadine Silverberg, who initiated the Lotus project, said Ms Kwong’s involvement would make a huge difference to the producers Oxfam works with in Vietnam and more broadly.


“Not only will the artisans crafting Kylie’s first-ever product range receive fair wages and working conditions, proceeds from the sale of these products will support Oxfam’s work with communities in developing countries,” Ms Silverberg said.


“Kylie’s support is also playing an important role in raising the profile of fair trade in Australia more generally, which is likely to increase demand for fair trade products and, in turn, further benefit the fair trade groups Oxfam works with worldwide.”


The range is hand-crafted and hand-painted in Vietnam by Oxfam’s fair trade producer partner Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts. Mai, founded in 1990 to support Vietnamese street children, now employs the mothers and older sisters of these children and most of its employees are women. Workers receive decent wages and training in areas such as quality control, marketing and export procedures.


The Lotus range will be available from Oxfam’s retail shops and www.oxfamshop.org.au from 1 October. Further information about the project, including RRPs and stockist info, is contained in the attached Background Information sheet.


Images of the range, the artisans who produce it, and Kylie’s visit to the fair trade workshop in Vietnam where it is created are contained on the enclosed disc.


For any additional media queries, please contact Raina Hunter, Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator, on 03 9289 9259 or rainah@oxfam.org.au


 
Background Information


Oxfam’s vision is to take fair trade mainstream, by offering beautiful, hand-crafted products that would suit the modern Australian home, and the Lotus project is a key part of that. Each product we sell has a unique story, meticulously crafted by community artisans with love and time-honoured skill.

The range:


Rice bowl, $14.95
Soup bowl, $21.95
Small plate, $6.95
Large plate, $14.95
Soup spoon, $5.95
Teapot, $49.95
Teacup, $10.95
Coffee cup, $10.95


At $350 for a 29-piece set, which includes one teapot and 4 of each of the other items, the Lotus range would make a beautiful addition to any home.


Each item begins its life as wet clay which is poured into the different moulds and left to set. The surface is then smoothed on a pottery wheel and sponged to create a perfect surface before being bisque-fired. The charcoal and green finishes are achieved by dipping each item into the appropriate glaze. Mr Hung, the master painter at Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts and others whom he has trained then carefully paint the lotus designs onto each item. Finally, the products are fired in a kiln which changes the originally pale, matte colours into the vibrant ones that adorn the finished range. Every process is done by hand.


Stockist info:
Available from Oxfam’s retail shops and www.oxfamshop.org.au or by phoning 1800 088 455 from 1 October, 2011. For shop locations, please visit here.


What is fair trade?


Fair trade is about better prices, decent working conditions and improved market access for small producers in the developing world, such as farmers and community artisans.


The fair trade system is independently monitored and audited and also assists producers and their communities to plan for the future, as the trading partnerships entered into are long term, and producers receive as much as 50% of the order value in advance, interest-free.


For the people producing Kylie’s range, benefits include:


· Above average wages
· Good working conditions
· Regular working hours
· Opportunities for training and career progression
· Cooking facilities and time off to prepare lunch
· A workers representative to raise any issues with the owner on behalf of the whole group


Importantly, fair trade gives everyday Australians the opportunity to make active consumer choices in their day to day lives to reduce poverty.


About the artisans:


Kylie’s range is produced in a large, light-filled workshop in Bat Trang province, just out of Hanoi in Vietnam’s north. The workshop, which specialises in ceramics and is renowned for its intricate, hand-painted designs, is one of a number of fair trade groups supported by Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts. Mai was started by a group of social workers in 1990 to support Vietnamese street children.

 

They now assist disadvantaged women around the country through income generation, education and training.
About Oxfam Australia:


Oxfam Australia is part of a global movement of dedicated people working hard to fight poverty and injustice.


We’ve been working with communities for more than 50 years, and have learnt that simply giving handouts is not the answer. Instead, we provide people with the skills and resources to help them create their own solutions to poverty.


We’re here to help all people realise their basic human rights, which are too often denied by poverty. We are not affiliated with any religious or political parties.


Oxfam’s shops are run on a not-for-profit basis to raise awareness of fair trade and assist producers in developing countries. We work with more than 60 fair trade producer groups in around 30 countries (who in turn support thousands of producers), paying them fair and stable prices for their work and providing market access.


Kylie Kwong and Oxfam:


“When Oxfam approached me to consider designing a range of kitchenware, I realised this was a project which could bring together my passion for cooking, love of art, and advocacy for a better deal for producers in developing countries.”


Kylie Kwong, October 2010


Kylie, who is an Ambassador for the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, felt the proposal was a natural extension of her advocacy on the issue. The idea quickly moved on to Kylie creating the first design scheme for the range, and Oxfam’s product team translating these into ceramic designs and working with the producers to develop and finesse samples.


In March 2011, Kylie travelled to Vietnam with Oxfam to meet the producers in person, finalise the designs and see firsthand how the fair trade system is working, including the benefits these workers receive.


For more information about Kylie Kwong, please visit www.kyliekwong.org. For more information about Oxfam, please see www.oxfam.org.au.


For media information, broadcast quality vision, or photographs of Kylie’s visit to the workshop in Vietnam to see her range being developed, please contact Raina Hunter, Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator, on 03 9289 9259 or rainah@oxfam.org.au