Carouge, city of craftsmen

Carouge and crafts: a long love story.

In 1790, the city counted some 450 craftsmen specialising in around 30 trades. While some have disappeared, others have survived and new ones have appeared. A signposted, historical tour of half-forgotten trades.

Bookbinder-restorer

Rosettes, arabesques, irons: the tools and sleights of hand that accompany them date back to the 12th century. Taken apart, washed in water page by page, dried and printed before being bound, the paper finds a new lease of life in the hands of these few rare artists that still hold the secret of this age-old expertise.

The timber trades

There are about 50 craftsmen in Carouge who shape wood, in a fine spirit of complementarity and conviviality. While it is difficult to present them all, in view of their number and the fact that they don’t all sell their production directly, they are representative of the artisanal chain in processing wood. So one finds carpenters and ‘ébénistes’ (cabinetmakers) — whose name comes from ebony to designate originally craftsmen working with precious wood — and wood inlayers who treat furniture with decorative coatings in different materials (wood, scale, metals). Lastly, Carouge is also home to wood gilders and sculptors who fashion the raw material to create a work of art.

The glass trades

Made of sand, soda ash and lime, glass turns into an art object, high-tech component or architectural element. Used for over 6000 years, this material in constant evolution returns to its origins in Carouge. In particular those of glass paste, a technique already used by the Phoenicians and Egyptians, consisting of agglutinating the glass into a paste which is then rebaked at 800°. A technique that leads to stamping, long fallen into disuse before contributing to the heyday of the Art Deco period and which one finds today in Carouge.

Stylists

An art that in Carouge plunges us into a dream world with its own particular style. The study of lines, forms and volumes to create a garment that enhances the figure. From the creator who buys the thread, the dye and makes her own fabrics to she who likes to combine her creations with those of other stylists, a tour through in the world of talent.

Milliners

Lavish hats that evoke receptions or horse races but also city models for everyday wear. Hats that twist, simple shapes with a detail that flies off sideways. To be tried on without moderation restriction.

Jewellers

A fashioner of metal, composer of alloys, gem cutter, assembler and setter - the jeweller performs all the steps in jewellery on the basis of an idea or a sketch.

Watchmakers

Pendulums and sculptural clocks as works of art that combine tradition and contemporary aestheticism with made-to-measure mechanical watches, Carouge still remains a watchmaking centre.
© Christine Ansermet, Swisspassions.