On the path of the artisans of Carouge during Les Journées des Métiers d’Art

weaving carouge

THE recent Journées des Métiers d’Art (JEMA) gave the public a unique opportunity to visit the ateliers of the talented artisans of the Swiss Romandy and to go behind the scenes to witness the skill and craftsmanship required to design, create and maintain articles of beauty, originality and longevity.

loom and weaving
Shuttles rest on the loom in Anne-Claude Virchaux’s atelier.

The municipality of Carouge owes much of its present-day spirit of creativity and dynamism to its history as a home to artisans down the generations. That tradition continues today and the 20 artisan-members of the Parcours des Ateliers Carougeois (PAC) joined their fellow artisans in the region in opening their workshops to visitors during the Journées des Métiers d’Art.

PAC’s goal is to encourage greater appreciation for artisanal workmanship and to illustrate how cherised articles are conceived, made, assembled and maintained — whether they are handwoven pieces of clothing or handmade hats, clocks, jewellery, soap, handbags, string instruments, furniture or floral arrangements.

Colorful garments machine-woven and hand-cut by Mireille Donzé in her atelier/boutique.

Passion, persistance and passing it on

Given my love of fabric and with only limited time at my disposal, my focus over the JEMA weekend fell on a seamstress, weaver, knitter and hat maker on the Rue Saint-Joseph in Carouge. I also looked in on a crowded presentation at a leather goods shop on Rue Ancienne, where handbags are created that I’ve not seen the likes of anywhere else.

If there’s something to take from the experience, it’s that artisanal workmanship of the kind to be found in Carouge continues to exist thanks largely to the passion, dedication and persistence of its practitioners. They face stiff competition from department store chains and luxury goods houses. Some raw materials are not as readily available as they used to be and also, labor practices in some far off countries where materials are produced in large quantities at cheaper cost make using them unpalatable. The result can mean higher costs to produce and to purchase the eventual product.

There’s more than a hint of the heroic about their persistence, especially in the case of one artisan who is passing on her skills to a new generation of independent artisans.

Below you’ll see some photos of the artisans and ateliers I visited along with descriptions of their work and philosophy. I hope you enjoy getting to know them:

You can learn more about these and the other 15 artisans of PAC on their website Parcours des Ateliers Carougeois. But to get you started, here are the addresses for the artisans featured in this post.


Rue Saint-Joseph 13
022 342 35 26


Rue Saint-Joseph 31
022 343 55 21


Rue Saint-Joseph 31
079 241 39 19


31 rue Saint-Joseph
022 301 42 20


Chris Murner
Rue Ancienne 43
022 342 72 25

Main photo caption: Garments woven by loom then sewn by Anne-Claude Virchaux in her Carouge atelier.

All photos: CLG.

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