Welcoming Oaxaca, Mexico’s love for colour and earthy textures we are excited to take you into the home of Vera Claire. Vera is a designer and founder of Cosa Buena, a social enterprise and nonprofit collaborating with Zapotec and Mixtec communities in Oaxaca to preserve their artistic traditions.
We were inspired by Vera’s love for bringing community together and the unique design elements that she portrays amongst her home.
SHOP THE LOOK
Tell us about your neighbourhood in Oaxaca, where are some of your favourite places to go?
I live in barrio Xochimilco, (Los Arquitos) one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Oaxaca City. Our home looks out on a beautiful plaza where there is always music, calendas, celebrations and lots of great people watching. Xochimilco is a maze of cobblestone streets and old homes where families have lived for generations. One of the most beautiful features is the old stone aqueducts that run through the neighbourhood. You could spend hours walking around the neighbourhood taking in the beauty. El Volador is my preferred coffee shop (just a few steps from our front door) and La Cosecha is a wonderful organic market with delicious local and organic foods, and Jardín Conzatti is a lovely little park I spend a lot time in. We are about a five minute walk from the Santo Domingo cathedral and the center of the city, so everything is in reach.
In three words how would you describe Mexico…
Warm, lively, complex.
How would you describe the style of your home?
Colourful, yet earthy. Textured and warm. It is very much a work in progress, but our little family is very content here.
We love the Pampa pieces you have chosen for your home, what drew you to Pampa?
I used to live in Argentina, so I was immediately drawn to Pampa. Through my own work with Cosa Buena I have spent years learning about ancestral craft techniques, and therefore have a special connection and appreciation for traditional artwork. The wool used in the North of Argentina is very different from what is used here in Oaxaca, and the quality of the weaving and Pampa products is incredible. Vicky’s photography is stunning, and the saguaro prints reminded me of my hometown Tucson, so I really wanted to incorporate them into our space.
Tell us about Cosa Buena, and how you have created a community that merges design and culture.
Cosa Buena is a social enterprise and nonprofit organisation with the aim of empowering artisan communities in Oaxaca to preserve their storied artistic traditions. Our approach is holistic and multi-faceted, spanning from social design practices to regenerative tourism. We offer culturally responsible, immersive retreats that reinvest into local communities providing socio-economic benefits and funding for educational programs and community-based projects. These projects are determined by the communities we work within. Our design projects operate in the same way. It is very important not to impose, but rather to work together with the community to identify their needs and collaborate to address those needs. In this way we’ve established an incredible community merging design and culture.
How does your passion connect you to interior spaces and different design projects?
My passions influence my design work in many ways, but perhaps most noticeably in my use of natural materials and ancient techniques. Many traditional techniques are at risk of disappearing because natural materials have been replaced by synthetic materials. For example, synthetic chemical dyes instead of natural ones, or the use of plastic instead of clay. I am very intentional about the materials I incorporate into a project or space, and I always prefer something that has been handmade over something that was produced industrially.
Where did you grow up and what drew you to live in Mexico?
I grew up in the Sonoran desert in Tucson, Arizona. I was fortunate enough to travel a lot throughout my childhood because my family extends across the world. organically. I never had plans to move to Oaxaca, but my work and passions guided me here.
In 2015, I was living and working in Valparaíso, Chile and then in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During that time I traveled around the continent, and became familiar with traditional Indigenous arts. I was amazed by the craftsmanship, and also the cosmo vision and preservation of ancient knowledge. Eventually that brought me to Oaxaca. I began working with artisan communities in Oaxaca around the time that I started graduate school. In my Master’s thesis work I developed a narrative- based literacy program in collaboration with a cooperative of weavers in Oaxaca. One thing led to another, and the doors kept opening, so we packed up our life in San Francisco, and moved to Oaxaca.
Are there any exciting projects you are currently working on?
I am finishing up a piece that I designed for an exhibition at the Museo de Antropología in Mexico City. My husband and I also just purchased a home in the neighbourhood of Jalatlaco here in Oaxaca (also one of the oldest and most charming barrios). We are going to rebuild the entire home from adobe. Eco-building and construction has been a longtime dream of ours, and we are so excited to begin this project. I’m also looking forward to reopening the Cosa Buena retreats this summer if the situation permits it. We really miss our community and hosting our retreats in Oaxaca.
Photos: Kate Berry
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