A line of crystal for Riedel/Nachtmann
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FAIR TRADE DESIGN
Peruvian ceramics for SERRV INTERNATIONAL
SERRV, a global fair trade organization, wanted patterned “Peruvian looking” ceramics. This seemed impossible for an artisan group that could not glaze or make molds.
Most of the slums surrounding Lima have dirt roads, criss-crossed with tire tracks. After some time in the museums, I realized that the tracks looked remarkably like Pre-Columbian patterning.
So we went to a local llanteria...
...nailed some bike tires to some wooden boards...
....Raul Casahuaman hand-turned some bowls...
...and used the tires as stamps to make a print.
Raul experimented until he found a way to stamp the bowls without distorting them.
This collaboration gave SERRV the patterns they wanted while remaining honest to both past and present Peru.
Peruvian artisans spend their lives surrounded by imports from their greatest competitor. Cheap Chinese ceramics can be found all over Peru, seen below along the Amazon river in Iquitos and in urban Lima.
Before technology existed to glaze or make molds, Chulucan artisans smoked their pottery with mango leaves to give it color and make patterns.
I teamed with Chulucan artisan Ernesto Valladares to use this uniquely Peruvian technique on rival imports as a small act of cultural defiance.
We sourced ceramics from the central market in Lima and he smoked them in barrels until they were black.
The mango leaves seen on the left are the secret behind the technique, unique to that region and illegal to export. On the right, Valladares demonstrates how he buffs each piece after firing.
The silhouette of imported china is still obvious, now blackened into a Peruvian product.
Valladares' assistant Pablo Ceballos demonstrates the ancient Chulucan smoking process and I demonstrate my terrible Spanish accent: