Tell us about Awanay.
Awanay is a rug design studio based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, founded by my mother and me in 2012. Our mission is to help weavers living in inaccessible places have the chance to work and live in their homeland, keeping their traditions.
Being from the corporate world (my mom has a degree in computer science and had always worked for banks, and I have a degree in business and had just my marketing job), we wanted to find a project that would contribute to a better world. We wanted to give our work a deeper meaning and leave a footprint.
We had always liked the traditional textiles of northern Argentina, and we knew that the ancient weaving techniques were disappearing from popular knowledge. We got to the idea of creating a social enterprise using weaving as the engine for growth. We planned a trip into the heart of the dry forest in northern Argentina, far away from Buenos Aires, surrounded by labyrinthine paths of cacti and adobe houses spread 10 or 20 km from one another. It was such a heartwarming experience. These weavers have no access to markets since they are quite isolated, and they were so enthusiastic! Walking this path inspired us to create Awanay.
What techniques and materials does Awanay specialize in?
We work with pure handspun and hand-dyed wool from the sheep and llama. Every step of the process is handmade by rural communities following ancient techniques and fair-trade practices. These techniques give the rugs unique shades and rich texture variations that can’t be obtained industrially. Custom-made in any size, our collections fuse a contemporary aesthetic with Argentine heritage and pure materials. Thick or thin, or even with long hair, all our rugs have special threads that honor the imperfections of natural raw wool.
What makes Awanay unique and keeps you ahead of your competition?
We are naturally inspired by rural Argentina: its landscapes, its heritage, and its people. At the same time, we are always developing new designs, techniques, and threads. It’s a mixture of rustic and elegant, simple and chic, contemporary and ancient, imperfection and modern architectural inspiration.
Do you consider Awanay a supplier or a brand? Are you open to custom designs?
Awanay is definitely a brand in the sense that we have a philosophy, a personality, a style, a particular ethos, an aesthetic, and a story. We design our own collections and offer custom designs as long as they fit with our style. We work closely with architects and interior designers, customizing our rugs for their projects, but in general there is a total congruence within our general style and the client that commissions a rug from us.
Please tell us about the artisans you work with and where your materials are sourced.
The artisans we work with live in the dry forest and in the highlands of La Puna, very inaccessible places in northern Argentina. Families weave in their homes as has been done for centuries. There is a loom in every home, making weaving a part of everyday family life. The wool is sourced within the same rural community, and most of the dyes come from plants and flowers in the area.
What is the most popular item you sell?
The most popular item we sell is our Jume Rug, which is hand-woven with our special handspun thread called “soga.” It’s a soft and chunky rug dyed with the Jume plant, a typical plant of the dry forest. Another very popular rug is Tango, which is a thinner rug hand-woven with pure undyed wool from very soft sheep raised high in the Andes.
Who is your ideal customer?
We are very oriented to providing not only products but also service to interior designers, so our ideal customers would be representatives selling to the trade and offering customizing services. On the other hand, for ready-made items, our ideal customers would be high-end retail stores.
Do you think the artisan trend is on the rise in Argentina? How has business shifted over the years?
We are nurturing each other both in our national market and abroad, even in this recession we are experiencing in Argentina. Our clients are high end in general, and it helps to have a more stable demand that doesn't fluctuate that much depending on the economy. I’m sure artisan-made products are on the rise here, especially when combined with a modern design.
For more info, visit: www.awanay.com