Made in Kazakhstan

I’ve got my two adorable children to thank for entering a children’s store in Almaty and ┬ádiscovering these covetable rolling animals from Vishnyovii Papa (‘Cherry Papa’) designs, made by local designer Chingiz Shakurov. I am so thrilled to find something so attractive, well-designed, and fun which has been made in Kazakhstan. Such a treat after the endless shipping containers of Chinese plastic in the bazaar.

Father to a four-year old daughter, Chingiz started experimenting with designs after she was born. Friends and family liked them, people he didn’t even know liked them and he kept going. Now he sells his designs (in charming cardboard boxes stuffed with sawdust) at various children’s shops in Almaty. I particularly like this red deer (below), which reminds me of the deer used as a motif by the Scythians with its head forward, antlers at the ready. Knowing how my son (22 months) loves to push things on wheels around, I couldn’t resist.

But beware. As Chingiz points out on his website, “please note that even if Kazakhstan feels like the center of the world to us, we are not that wired into good logistics, online banking, efficient customs and mass production. I am not sure why. It might be because the sky-high Tien Shan mountains keep us kind of isolated, or because our feeling of self-importance gets in the way. In any case, buying things from me is not that easy if you are abroad.”

If you like Chingiz’s stuff, you’re going to need to live in Almaty or have a kind friend living there who’s willing to bring stuff back for you. You can find out more about Chingiz’s designs at www.cherrypapa.com and you can buy his products at Obuvenok on the corner of Zheltoksan and Kurmangazy.