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Bolivia is a country of wildly divergent landscapes and dozens of local tongues. The city of Santa Cruz, which sits in the lowlands of eastern Bolivia, is home to many species of exotic trees—and it is within this city that our Árbol Collection has its roots.
This project is a partnership with Kirah Design, a Bolivian social enterprise founded and run by a dear friend, Gabriela Flores. Reclaimed wood, primarily from certified forests, lays the foundation for Kirah’s production.
Bolivia’s long standing tradition of woodworking originated with the Chiquitanias, the Jesuit missionaries who settled in the region in the 17th century. The Jesuits established within their missions the cultivation of a range of high crafts as part of their way of evangelizing the native populations. This extraordinary circumstance gave rise to highly skilled woodworkers, musicians, and luthiers, among others. When the Jesuits were later expelled by the Spanish crown, the locals were left with their knowledge and their craft, but with no market and no means for continued refinement. Eventually, what was left of the legacy were artisans making small souvenirs and religious figurines reminiscent of that distant past.
Our ‘forest’ of Árbol lamps
Kirah was founded on the discovery of this dormant legacy—an ancestral knowledge of carving and woodturning that was in great need of refinement. Since starting Kirah in 2008, Gaby’s mission has been to consistently provide sustainable funds from the development of ever-improving products so that the legacy comes to life again. In the process, rise has been given to a new generation of Master Artisans.
Our Árbol Collection stems from a new project that is focused specifically on wood from trees that hail from the city of Santa Cruz, which have either fallen from natural causes or been felled for construction purposes. The rescued and salvaged roots, trunks and branches are brought to Kirah’s Master Workshop in Santa Cruz, where they are carefully sorted, air-dried and stored. The process of giving shape to the raw material then starts by identifying the potential of each piece with a team of Master Artisans, playing off the natural shapes, patterns and characteristics of the wood.
Master artisan Limberg Vaca
At its core, the design sensibility of this collection is driven by a desire to preserve what is ancient and essential, in both the materials and the techniques. The designs are defined by the materials themselves—with a sensitivity for the local context combined with the form-making principals of modernism. Drawing on the spirit of tropical modernism, the design of our Árbol Collection lamps embraces its South American roots.
Each lamp in the collection is one of a kind, with its specific type of hardwood called out. We work with local experts to identify the species of each salvaged tree, with a range of woods having been revealed, including:
It’s incredibly gratifying to partner with Kirah on this project. Kirah’s mission underscores a vision for development that not only understands the need to protect Bolivia’s rich natural and cultural heritage, but actually supports the flourishing of that tradition. Strong contributors to their local economies and to national conservation initiatives, the artisans that work with Kirah are paving a path towards future development that is founded on respect for indigenous communities, honor for local traditions and a commitment to loyal stewardship of the country’s rich but endangered supply of natural resources.
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