Our friends at AOW Handmade recently returned from an inspiring visit to Expoartesanías in Colombia. As the largest artisan show in South America with over 700 exhibitors, Expoartesanías is an annual retail show based in Bogotá held over the course of 14 days in December. In its 25th year, the show’s primary goal is to promote and strengthen the artisan sector in Colombia by creating a selling platform for the country’s diverse array of craft that focuses on design, innovation, and quality.
Products at the show ranged from one-of-a-kind traditional pieces to contemporary home décor and personal accessories. While contemporary craft was the most popular sector, a portion of Expoartesanías featured the work of indigenous people with the goal of protecting Colombia’s rich craft heritage.
Read below for an excerpt of the AOW Handmade Winter 2015 – 2016 Expoartesanías report highlighting a few of the top producers inside and outside of the show. Written specifically for designers, artisans, retailers, and wholesalers, the 139 page report includes a trend analysis, company profiles, expert interviews, a full show directory.
El Gres del Pato y la Cruz
El Gres del Pato y la Cruz is a small pottery studio offering high temperature stoneware that values and respects the beauty hidden in local resources by producing high-quality products. El Gres del Pato y la Cruz uses rocks and minerals gathered by farmers without the use of heavy equipment, just a stone’s throw from founder Luis del C. Reye’s studio in the Santander region of Colombia. All pieces are modeled by hand and then fired. “El Gres del Pato y La Cruz is the result of the fusion of land, local roots, and design.”
FEM International/ Ethik BGC
Ethik BGC is a collective of artisans, makers, and eco-designers from Canada and abroad. In Colombia, they facilitate an incubator program and work directly with Wayuu women artisans. As a way to broaden market access and offer training for artisans, they partner with FEM International, a Canada-based organization that connects with buyers and offers FOB Colombia and Canadian wholesale prices. These organizations work directly with artisans to preserve cultural heritage and increase the quality of life for the Wayuu people who live throughout the Guajira Peninsula.
Kaliinas is a Colombian brand that produces fashion accessories using indigenous and traditional handicraft techniques. Sales from all products benefit more than 400 Wayuu indigenous families. The company’s goal is to produce and sell fashion accessories of excellent quality that are able to compete in the world market and, in return, generate steady income for the craft communities and families. They offer a variety of training programs including product design and development, cost and pricing, and marketing and administration skills, and offer work under Fair Trade parameters.
La Tagueria specializes in the production of tagua (palm nut) jewelry. They have a factory based in Bogotá that employs over 30 individuals and processes approximately 10 tons of tagua on an annual basis. Ivory colored tagua is intricately carved, drilled, polished, dyed, and made into colorful jewelry and other decorative items. All tagua is sourced in Colombia and products are manufactured in their workshop. Their goal is to help preserve the palm so people will take care of it and continue to create environmentally friendly, local crafts.
The Martinez C. Workshop produces high-quality leather handbags and accessories. Each piece is inspired by traditional Colombian. Eduard Martinez is the founder of the Bogota-based workshop and has dedicated most of his life to learning the craft of making leather goods.
Tierra Fria blankets are named after the climate in which they are created, where for centuries they have been household essentials in both aesthetics and utility. The Boyacá Mountain Blanket is hand-woven by skilled artisans who have passed the tradition down through generations in the Boyacá region of the Andes Mountains. Only the highest quality virgin wool is selected and woven tightly to create a thick and rugged blanket known for its incredible weight. Blankets are all-natural, and no dyes or chemicals are used in their creation. The color variation is limited to the four colors of sheep: black, brown, grey, and white. The result is a timeless blanket that epitomizes sustainable sensibilities in both the creation and its use. The company strives for sustainability in environmental, social, and economical capacities.
Visit the AOW Handmade website to buy the full 139 page report which includes: Over 200 product images, Q&A’s with exporters and industry experts (Finatur Design, Sapia, and Artesanías de Colombia), analysis of trends and producers, and a retail directory of Bogotá-based workshops, handmade markets, and retail shops. A company directory featuring over 50 brands and suppliers and a full show directory (list of over 500 emails) are also included.