Provincial Charm

Mayan Art Meets Contemporary Elegance

Natural Art Design represents a movement in Guatemala to preserve native heritage, stabilize local economies, and highlight designs that are both sustainable and representative of the allure of Mayan art and culture.

Andrea Benavente, Design and Production Coordinator, embellishes this theme. “Natural Art’s mission is the development of high end products using sustainable materials made by artisan hands in rural areas of Guatemala to create job opportunities and decrease migration to other countries due to poor personal and professional development. We base our work on our three main pillars that are exclusivity, authenticity, and sustainability.”

Indeed, the entire process behind each product mirrors these principals. Designers find inspiration in the juxtaposition of nature and refinement, while honoring the very artisans spread across their country. The artisans themselves are mostly women who work from their homes. The company collaborates with twenty artisanal communities, with each community consisting of 15-20 women. This allows the 1,913 women employed by Natural Art to tend to their families and livestock while earning income. Of these women, at least 300 of them are trained in new techniques, administration, marketing, trends, and more. Often these artisans are the head of their households, raising anywhere between four to eight children. By promoting education in the work force and the families of the artisans, Natural Art Design also insures training in administration, design, and quality control. When needed resources are scarce, the artisans rely on the creative genius the Mayan culture is known for sometimes using spare bicycle parts for tools. Also of note is the company’s economic impact. Ninety cents from each dollar sold contributes to health, food, and housing to families across the country.

“Our products are produced by a satellite production system,” Benavente says. “This means that we develop different parts of the products in different areas and then they are assembled in one point for finishing and quality control. We work with different artisans in the country combining techniques like maguey, wool, cotton, and tecomate. Due to the introduction of synthetic fibers, these ancient techniques and materials are being lost and we work very hard to preserve these links to their cultural identity.

All our products are 100% handmade in Guatemala.”

Every element of design represents a cohesion of form and functionality, elegance and long-standing tradition. Natural Art embodies a country’s evolution in nature, custom, and the beautiful riddle that is Mayan art and culture. The end product is a testimony of what can be found in the natural world of Guatemala, as well as the modern aesthetic of sustainability and exclusive charm.

“For the NY NOW event,” Benavente stated in an email, “we are presenting our Home Décor line showcasing exclusive designs that will be launched specifically for the event.”

Natural Art Design will be exhibiting at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from August 21-24. For more information, please visit http://naturalartdesign.com

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