We have an ongoing love affair with the Pampa brand, and caught up with them last weekend to go through their gorgeous new collection of rugs, all of which are lovingly handmade in Argentina. For some of the team it was the first time we were exposed to the inimitable charms of Vicky and Carl who are the masterminds behind the business. We were all swept away by the stories from their recent trip to Argentina, so we interviewed them and asked them all about this collection, the trip to the mountains and all that their brand means to them.
Tell us where your most recent travels took you to?
Our last trip was to Argentina to meet with the lovely weavers that we work with. These weavers live in all different regions of Northern Argentina, so we spend a lot of time on the road. We were fortunate enough to have a 4X4 on this last trip, so we got to see some of the most amazing landscapes and meet new groups of weavers in some of the most remote places in the country.
How does travel shape your products?
Every Pampa rugs is inspired and connected to their place of creation. Sometimes a colour palette can be taken from the landscape that surrounds that community, and sometimes even a pattern or design is inspired from a mountain, a twisty trail, the flower of the dry forest, their crops, their old legends and stories, so many things are connected to the process of our rugs. This year we’ve started working closer with certain communities in terms of designs and colour ways. These are not just what is on trend, but mainly what inspires us while exploring Argentina. We take so many photos during our travels, and in doing this it ingrains certain colour combinations and patterns into our minds, this really influences us in the design process when putting together a collection. We see our pieces as far more than just wool woven into a rug. The more we travel around these communities, the more we believe that these creations are an essential part of our artisan’s lives that must be celebrated. Each Pampa rug is interwoven with tradition and a deeply rooted sense of place.
Tell us about the different communities that drive your collection …
Every community we work with differs greatly. Some communities are located up in the chilly highlands, and then others in the lower hotter regions. Some of the larger communities work as cooperatives sharing materials, techniques and workloads. Weaving is often taught to the children during school hours, just like Australian children would take art classes. This is very important to preserve this part of their culture, as once these skills skip a generation they could be lost forever. Some of these communities are more traditional in their ways than others, some are very passionate about preserving the old ways without the influence of the modern world, while others are accepting the ways of the new world and are now able to afford cars or motorcycles and even sending their children to university. We respect both ways and we are happy knowing we provide a fair trade income that leads to a better life. The sad part of the story is that this weaving techniques are in extinction in Argentina, that is why we push so hard with the preserving and empowering side of Pampa. If there is no demand there is less to weave, and the less there is to weave the closer their craft gets to extinction.
How does Pampa encourage and foster local and traditional jobs within these communities?
Because we travel directly to the weavers themselves and pay them a fair and honest price for their pieces, we know the money is going to the people who deserve it most. This reduces the need for them to travel long and expensive distances to try and sell their works in the nearest town or city. This allows more weavers to continue with their traditional ways of providing for their families, instead working away on farms or in cities for weeks or even months at a time.
And finish by telling us why you began …
Pampa was born out of an appreciation for traditional ways and wanting to help preserve what is slowly but surely disappearing. Photography and the thirst for exploring plays a big part of Pampa, these factors took us to amazing places where we’ve meet communities that needed to find easier ways to sell their products. And also the fact that Vicky was constantly home sick and missing her homeland in Argentina played a part. We feel blessed that we are in a position where we can be helping these communities, and at the same time bringing amazing rugs to people in Australia and other parts of the world. We really see it as a labour of love.
For us at The Design Hunter, it really is such a privilege to be able to stock ranges from companies such as We are Pampa which are truly about getting back to the root of communities and saving traditional skills that would otherwise disappear. Make sure you come in-store and see the beautiful rugs we picked for you, they won’t last long.