Launched in November 2020, Dia Guild is a modern-day solution to the travel restrictions preventing the world from discovering and appreciating beautiful artisanal items from Southeast Asia. It houses more than 20 brands from across six countries in the region, including Fern, Neil Felipp, Fugeelah, Pink Jambu and Talee Studio. In the last year, their specially curated catalogue of jewellery, ceramics, minaudières and other lifestyle products has quickly become a beloved shopping destination as well as a resource for discerning collectors to understand how people of the region are celebrating and modernising heritage craftsmanship.
This month, Dia Guild presented a week-long exhibition 'A Luxury Craft Journey Across Southeast Asia' at London Craft Week as the only Southeast Asian brand among the 250 British and international creatives featured at the established festival. Held at Pan Pacific Hotel in the heart of London, the event showcased the best of the region's craft and welcomed notable guests including Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Malaysian ambassador to the UK, Zakri Jaafar.
Tatler sits down with co-founders, Aisha Hassan, Alia Farouk and Kylie Francis to discuss how they made their first international exhibition out of their home bases of Kuala Lumpur and New York happen, and their experiences at the event. They also tease upcoming plans to further Dia Guild's mission to uplift artisanal craftsmanship in Southeast Asia.
Tell us about the planning process behind 'A Luxury Craft Journey Across Southeast Asia'.
Aisha Hassan (AH): It was one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences we’ve had since launching as a business.
Event management is a whole industry in and of itself, so pulling off a weeklong exhibition—in a foreign country with such a tiny team—was daunting. It was inspiring to work with powerhouse brands like the Pan Pacific Hotels Group and London Craft Week, rewarding to solve a myriad of logistics and planning problems when they arose, and heartwarming to meet so many strangers who resonated with Dia Guild’s mission.
And above all, it was fun. From visualising the layout of each room to drafting display texts that told a meaningful story, it was a pleasure to build an exhibition we were genuinely passionate about.
How did it feel to be the only Southeast Asian brand participating in London Craft Week this year?
AH: We're immensely proud to have been the only Southeast Asian brand participating in London Craft Week this year. Based on the Southeast Asian diaspora who came to support us and the international community who told us they were inspired, having discovered a platform that changed their perspective, we feel assured that Dia Guild is carving out a new and much-needed space on the global stage. It feels like an honour to represent our home region, and we take on that role with pride.