Photos: Courtesy of Alotof.
Collaborations between designers and artisan communities often lead to interesting results. We've seen some of that with the pieces of furniture by Oficina Nomade, the ceramic objects by Imaginario Pernambucano, and the palm tree home accessories by Caranday Quinua. And the super cool pieces in the new collection Artesania, by Alotof Design Group, go in the same direction.Alotof is a group of designers from Brazil that have teamed up to develop a line of chairs and sofas that mix artisan techniques from Brazil with sleek design and sustainable materials.
The 'Fisherman' sofa, for example, was developed by Ricardo Barddal to evoke the fishing culture of the Santa Catarina province in that country, and is produced with recovered fishing nets that were originally handmade and by local fishermen and also transformed by them to fit this new purpose.
Minuano is a chair whose cushions are handmade with a technique used in 'gaucho' pants by local communities in Rio Grande do Sul, on the south of Brazil. The structure of the chair is made by a local artisan from the area with certified FSC wood. It was designed by Oferenda Design.
For the finishing of the Springtime chair, designer Pedro Franco sought to promote the traditional Brazilian 'fuxico', a sort of patchwork made by women to recover small pieces of fabric (also seen in the collections by Coopa Roca). In this case, the structure of the chair is made by a company called Ronconi from Curitiba, which works with a low-income community from the area: Sumbi dos Palmares.
According to one of the designers of Alotof, this favela was one of the most dangerous places in Curitiba, and thanks to several social-aid programs the situation has improved enough so that some groups are able to work with companies producing fuxico fabrics.
Finally, the 'Underconstruction' chairs (photo at the beginning of the article) have industrial structure and the finishing is performed also by an artisan community. In the case of the 'Homeless' option, the cushions were made by a cooperative called 'Costurando arte', from the interior of Sao Paulo. The group is formed by women who are learning different sewing techniques to improve their social situation and elder women who seek to feel useful again.
The cushions were made with wool felt from recycled materials, a cheap fabric donated by the government to homeless people in winter. This gives the chair also a symbolic value, since this fabric enjoys very low consideration (and who would have thought it can actually look cool!).
Artesania, the name of the entire collection, was presented at Salone Satellite, a parallel exhibition of young designers at the Milan Furniture Fair. For more info on the pieces, contact the designers at their website.
Artisan furniture is probably not the answer to make a strong environmental impact, but projects like this are interesting ways of empowering people whose skills have begun to lose value over the past years.
More Furniture with a Social Conscience:
Street Furniture Made by Street Kids
Sleek Recycled Pallets Furniture to Improve Work of Cooperative in Brazil