With her unmatched talent for creating abstract, harmonious patterns, designer Mae Engelgeer used the opportunity to work with a new material – metallic yarns – to reinvent the Ojitos wall decorations. Named Ojitos Dorado, these extraordinary pieces feature muted hues like beige and black while the interspersed copper yarns create an alluring shimmer, contrasting the matt texture of the natural grass fibres. The new designs are reminiscent of the crowns, bracelets and gemstones that await in the hidden, fabled land of gold in the northern parts of South America.Using fibres from the leaves of the fique palm, artisans make each piece by hand using traditional techniques. The result is a piece of art that will elevate every space – not only with its extraordinary textures and colour combinations but also the eye-catching size of up to 130 centimetres. "Colombia is full of treasures", says Mae Engelgeer. "It has such diverse folklore, which I want to honour with these pieces. The Ojitos represent the colours of the country's diverse landscapes but are also a nod to local amulets used by ancient Colombian cultures to protect their houses. I saw the hand-woven objects ames was already making with similar techniques and wanted to really focus on the materials, creating wall pieces showing off the beauty of the craft. To me, they feel like wall jewels."
The methods the artesanos and artesanas – as the craftspeople are called in Colombia – use for the Ojitos Dorado have their roots in the traditional techniques for making baskets. Our partner ateliers are located in Boyaca, an Andes region, where these crafts have been used for centuries, and there’s particular respect for these skills. Local, multi-generational families work on each piece, using the knowledge passed down to them from their ancestors. They work with very thin strands of natural fibres made from the leaves of succulent plants locally known as fique. These threads, combined with the copper yarns, are wrapped around bundles of straw to create the circles. The dyes used on the fibres have primarily natural ingredients, such as nuts, roots and bark from trees, all native to the region. Each colour combination and pattern requires a different intricate technique, which ames had to develop in partnership with the artesanos over months until the desired quality was achieved. The preparation of the fibres alone takes one week, while the actual crafting of one wall decoration takes up to 45 days.
Dutch designer Mae Engelgeer felt always drawn to textiles – from her school days through her studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute to her Master's in applied art at the Sandberg Instituut. Since opening her studio in 2013, she has been driven by her interest in traditional craft techniques. Using yarns, colours, patterns and fabrics, she pushes the boundaries of textile production to adapt old techniques for the modern day. Mae Engelgeer's signature style combines subtle colour palettes, patterns and linear elements