When Tara Sfez first visited Thailand 25 years ago, little did she know that the trip would set her on a path to creating Numero 74, a brand that champions ethical craftmanship, organic materials and local production.
Fast forward to 2022, Tara has created an internationally-admired company and flagship store and workshop studio – L’Atelier no. 74 – in the heart of Ibiza.
An encounter with a rescued baby elephant at a Bangkok market soon sparked annual visits to the country, when Tara and her young son Zach would take tuk-tuks to the elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai. It was during these visits that Tara met a driver who, after learning about her passion for creativity, took her to visit the homes of local weavers and crochet-makers.
The rest, as they say, is history. “I didn’t want to be involved with, or contribute to, the workings of large factories,” Tara explains. “We wanted to work harmoniously with the community. At its heart Numero 74 is a human project. Our smaller business model means artisans sew, embroider and crochet at home.”
Back in Europe, a home décor project for a family member gave Tara the chance to showcase the pieces made by her community of talented craftswomen, alongside her own crochet and knitting skills. When a space became available at the famous Parisian trade show, Maison&Objet, it was an opportunity too good to miss.
Numero 74 developed its presence online and at trade shows, becoming a firm fixture on the global artisanal design scene. Their retail collection’s distinctive colour palette and emphasis on organic materials continues to speak of a close relationship with nature. “I knew I wanted subdued tones, nothing too strong,” says Tara. “I made potions of colours, not knowing what to expect.” As if by accident, she soon developed some of Numero 74’s signature shades: from dusty pink to sage green, sweet blue and baobab rose.
Whilst the process of building Numero 74’s market presence was enjoyable, Tara felt something was missing. “I know the power of working with my hands. For me, crochet is like meditation with my fingers. I realised we had to open a place where people could enjoy the strong power of creativity.”
Thus, their first physical venue – L’Atelier no. 74 – was launched in Ibiza; part boutique, part creative workshop and Ottolenghi-inspired restaurant. Set in the heart of Santa Gertrudis, bougainvillea and handwoven bunting set the scene for an outdoor dining area, while the retail boutique and workshop await inside. Just down the road, Tara opened a sister showroom La Maison no. 74 in spring 2022, where you can browse bespoke collections of homeware, fabrics, curtains and bedding.
At the original L’Atelier no. 74 space, the interior is adorned with pottery wheels, weaving looms, paints and wool – just some of the materials and tools used in their coveted workshops. Tara’s goal is to empower people to follow their passions in craft and design, with classes in embroidery, weaving, book binding, macramé, painting, ceramics and more. “If someone comes to L’Atelier with a dream of creating or teaching, we can make it happen. The possibilities for our workshops are endless” says Tara.
Plus, they’re suitable for kids and adults alike. Like her son’s artless fascination with the rescued baby elephant in Thailand, Tara hopes her workshops can encourage people to embrace their childlike curiosity and try activities they might have hesitations to do.
“A while back, a mother arrived to book a session with her daughter, and after refusing the option to join in, her daughter turned to her and said, ‘Mum, don’t worry. It’s not a big deal if you can’t make something, just try’.”
It was a moment that resonated with Tara, perfectly capturing L’Atelier no.74’s mission; to be a space where people can tune into their inner youthfulness and run wild with their creativity.
Having established a collective of female creatives in Thailand, I was able to incorporate their work into our trade offerings in Paris alongside my own work.
- Tara Sfez, Founder
Ibiza itself is also integral to the company ethos. Tara explains that all woollen products sold by Numero 74 – online and in the atelier– are made by a collective of women locally, who also host workshops. “It makes me so happy to celebrate local production” she says. This circular mode of manufacturing and teaching offers an unparalleled intimacy between the creatives and customers; the teachers and students.
Having worked between Italy and France before relocating to Ibiza, Tara felt an immediate pull to the island. “On my first drive around the island, orange blossom was in bloom all around us. I opened the windows, closed my eyes and inhaled. I thought, ‘I’m in the right place’.” It’s a sentiment that translates to how the organisation operates on Ibiza: “when people come to L’Atelier no.74, I want them to feel at home.”