The olive tree handicraft
George, made in Nabeul-Sfax
A key element of the Mediterranean culture, domesticated for six thousand years, olive trees make their imprint on the Tunisian landscape, with their gnarled figure topped by pale green foliage with silvery highlights.
A Living Material
Apart, of course, from olive oil whose trade started from the Bronze Age, this highly symbolic tree known for its exceptional longevity is also valued for its wood. Surrounded by olive trees, some centuries old, the region of Nabeul-Sfax, Tunisia has, for decades, been hosting specialized workshops about this secular and crafty art, which is passed on from generation to generation.
Found in Tunisian olive groves, the wood used for the manufacture of accessories comes from trees that no longer produce oil and are immediately replaced. Once uprooted, they are cut into logs that are dried in the sun before being put away. The craftsmen then choose those whose quality fits best with the object they wish to shape.
Carved, sanded and polished, wood now turned into an object that is dipped in an oil bath and then dried, before being varnished with a coat of oil.
A living material, its irregular and very particular grain, makes each object unique: each piece becomes a true memory of the tree from which it originated. Aesthetically pleasing, olive wood is also renowned for its strength, hardness and density and makes it particularly suitable for cooking.
A Civic Engagement
In recent years, thanks to the initiative of local craftsmen, the region of Nabeul-Sfax is at the heart of a project of UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) for the development of this now flourishing sector. Management, marketing, storage, sales: craftsmen from the region, once disorganized and dependent on resellers and wholesalers, are now trained to better manage their daily activity and improve their productivity, income and the working conditions of their employees.
The workshops involved have created an economic interest grouping, a brand named Zytuna, and a website to promote their savoir-faire and talent beyond Tunisian borders. This approach allows them to promote their products in a very competitive field where it is essential to provide the highest quality in order to win recognition - which is the case today. Thanks to this initiative, Habitat has discovered these craftsmen and is now working with them on different product lines in the context of a partnership with UNIDO.
A corporate citizen approach that we are proud to be associated with this season through the GEORGE accessory line in order to help promote the savoir-faire of the craftsmen of Nabeul-Sfax throughout the world.