Follow @Macala On Instagram

Style Over 35

An Intimate Look at Peruvian Artisans

October 13, 2017

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to shop for longevity. I want furniture, clothing and home accessories that are going to start the test of time. Shopping at the GAP and IKEA were great in my early-20s, digging through T.J. Maxx’s designer rack in Los Angeles was great in my mid-20s. But as I’ve become comfortable in my 30s, I’d source my wardrobe and home from places that offer timelessness instead of trend.

You won’t find me buying a new leather recliner from a new store, you’ll find me looking through a local vintage store for the perfect Milo Baughman recliner or a Westnofa Siesta Chair to compliment my latest LANE mid-century score lovingly found on Craigslist. New, old and/or reclaimed,  I love anything that’s well made. And to find the best textiles to compliment my “grown-up” tastes, you’ll often find me meeting the makers and artisans who exhibit at the trade shows I cover.

This year, I had the pleasure of connecting with Peru Inspired during NY NOW. Peru Inspired is an artisan collective that showcases the beautiful country of Peru and the native culture of the Inca indians in all that they make. The company was founded by Carlos and and Enrique Arias, a father and son team, whose goal is to connect retailers to Peruvian artisans and develop successful partnerships and sales opportunities with them. Peru Inspired offers design, product development advice, and quality control assistance to any store or company that works with them.

In order to learn more about them and what makes Peruvian design unique, I interviewed them.  Here’s what we talked about:

What sets Peruvian craftsmanship apart from other Latin American design styles?

The unique designs that the Incas and other ancient pre-Incan cultures had in Peru are distinctive and steeped in our culture. These techniques are handed down across generations to this day.

What are key materials, textiles, and fibers used in the products that artisans make?

Natural fibers are used to make beautiful and unique textiles.  These include llama, alpaca, and vicuña.

What is the significance of the bold colors and patterns found in Peruvian design?

Our ancestors found colors and patterns as a way of communicating and translating what they see in their environment, their feelings, and their experiences into works of art.  This focus, combined with the regional colors, creates a unique palette of design.

For example, dark red and green are more typical of the Cuzco region and lighter colors, such as yellow or blues, are more seen in regions close to the ocean. Patterns are like a signature for each community.  Think of them like a culture’s DNA; this uniqueness translates into their work and is the difference between their work and other regions around them.

How do your artisans approach sustainability in their work?

Artisans in Peru are very in touch with the environment they live in and they have a great respect for the Pacha Mama (Quechua for Mother Earth). In Peru, there is a deep love and respect for the Earth and its inhabitants that goes back for centuries.  Products are made according to what is in season and they use still the Incan calendar to follow the seasons.

What are three of the most surprising things that retailers discovered when working with Peru Inspired and carrying their products?

  1. A varied and deep mix of ancient Incan cultures.
  2. A physical representation of the diversity of their people.
  3. Most importantly, tradition:  artisans that create products still using ancient techniques.

Closing Thoughts

Well designed products last the test of time and trend, this article and interview hope to serve as just one example of that. I truly believe that buying well is just as sound of advice as saving for our futures and making wise investments. We buy so many things we don’t need today, we need to learn that less is really more and quality does top quantity any day. When we own less, we are able to open space in hearts, homes and minds for things of much greater importance because we’re not maintaining a bunch of stuff.