A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Tehuané is a creative studio dedicated to create lamps through the collaboration with artisans from different parts of México that work across different disciplines and techniques. The purpose is not only to produce contemporary lamps but to create bonds and connections with the artisans and elevate their work.
Founded by us, Csar and Emilia. We’re a designer duo from México putting our skills and efforts to start this project. I, Csar, am a Product Designer attracted by lighting, and Emilia is a Graphic Designer and visual artist, and of course Viktor Skoglund which is an adventurer photographer that is a big part of the team. As creatives, we’d like to shed more light to this beautiful side of the Mexican culture.
After spending some time in China I was surprised and amazed by the value bestowed upon Chinese crafts like porcelain, which led me to question myself about the value we give to our crafts in my native country. México has an immense diversity of artisanal techniques, some of which date back to pre-hispanic times. From clay and copper work, to alebrijes and glass blowing, every region of our country has its iconic technique and craft. But most of them are undervalued and are even starting to disappear.
The name of our project comes from the Náhuatl voice “Te Huan Né”, which means “you and I”, evoking the idea of exchange and dialogue, between us, as designers and the artisans, aiming to explore the limits between art and craft. Combining the knowledge and mastery of technique with a fresh and contemporary perspective.
Our work method is horizontal. What does this mean? That we work hand in hand with the artisans with the purpose of involving them in the creative process and inspire them to cross the boundaries between art and craft and perhaps set aside the work based on replicas and redirect their focus on creating new and authentic pieces.
Each Luminary we create will be the result of a collaboration with an artisan. Each collaboration has the length of a month, a month where we spend time with them, getting to know them, work with them, and create with them.
Most of the times, one month is not enough to get a product done, but it’s good enough to get to know the collaborator and the specific and particular way he or she works and understand their relationships with the technique and materials they use. The result of the process will be pieces inspired by life, context, and even the feeling and emotion artisans put into their work.
Also, one month is enough time to create a bond of respect and friendship, which allows working closely on details and opens the possibilities for future collaborations.
We’ve already worked on three collaborations:
For the first one, in Oaxaca, we collaborated with Bertha Zárate Blanco whose families have worked with pottery for many, many generations in a place called Atzompa.
Santa Maria Atzompa is located 15 minutes north from Oaxaca. It’s a small town known for being a pottery community since Monte Alban times, around 500 B.C.
Contemporary Atzompa is still dedicated to pottery and it’s even the base of its economy. From the population of 20 000, 90% of its inhabitants are dedicated to this kind of work. In this town, the workshops are also people’s homes.
Poverty is a common issue. Education is usually not an option as young people become part of the workforce, contributing to the household and the pottery workshops.
Fortunately, working with clay becomes a passion easily. Both of the workshops we collaborated with had around 10 people working in them, but even though it’s a family business, each and every one of them had their own personal and unique style.
Pitahaya came from a conversation with Berthas Family, I came to their workshop at 9 am, when I arrived they were having breakfast and invited me in. They told me a story about regional plants and what represents to them. Eligio, Bertha's brother talked about the beautiful way pitahaya bloom. I got inspired, and told them if they wanted to express that bloom in the piece we will be working on, all 12 family members loved the idea, and said SI!
The Pitahaya set consists of three different pieces which function as a family, the same way the Zarate family does, express the movement in the blooming of a Dragon Fruit flower. A bloom that could as well be from a different planet. The organic lines along with the color and texture of this type of clay will give a subtle and warm lighting to any space or environment.
The second collaboration took place in Mesillas, Sinaloa, an area known for its fine woodwork. But this area is also known for drug dealing and drug-related violence. We had to be careful when knocking doors around town because of the rumors. One week after we went there for the first time, we met someone who talked about a talented woodcarver known as “El Chacuco”.
In this collaboration, things worked in a different way. When we first talked to Chacuco, he insisted we showed him a blueprint of what we wanted to make to start working from there. This is the way most artisans are used to work with designers. He questioned our process but was open to the idea of creating something different. We liked his enthusiasm and adapted to the way he wanted to collaborate.
The idea was to make an ambient lighting composition that plays with the balance between the interaction of the material and elements in a contemporary way. When we shared the idea with him, he was excited and remained that way throughout the process. With him, we created a fun but respectful bond, and admiration keeps growing from both sides.
Chacuco has been working with wood for over 30 years. He’s sought after the big brands for his carving skills but in all of these years of work he had never questioned the process. “After 30 years of working with wood, making furniture, carving it, I never thought a piece could have an idea or a concept behind it…”, he told us.
If you want to see more of the interview
We just wrapped the third collaboration. This time working with blown glass in Tonalá, Jalisco, with two artisans: Sam and Willy.
During our exploration of the town, we stumbled upon a small museum that displays a bit of the history of the town. The museum’s director referred us to Sam, and as soon as we stepped foot into his workshop we knew this was the place. Sam, along with his brother Willy, come from a family who has worked with this particular technique for generations. Their grandfather was part of one of the first workshops to set up in this area. Glass runs through their veins.
The history of glass is fascinating, dating all the way back to the year 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and then became a proper profession in the Roman Empire around 30 B.C. But blown glass came to Jalisco until early 1900’s. Tonalá was widely known for its production of glass but it’s now experiencing a decline, as the crafts created there are now usually massively produced by factories that operate with over 100 people, and also, by manufacturers in China.
Sam and Willy are one of the few glass workshops that work with a small team and was exactly what we were aiming for. This particular workshop has a very special vibe to it. It’s a very friendly space amidst concrete and crazy traffic. Many of the members of Sam and Willy’s team are young guys seeking to learn the trade. Working with blown glass is a very dynamic and precise endeavor. Creating a single piece requires the effort of groups of two or three people, synchronized in what almost seems as an elaborate choreography.
Tonalá comes from the Nahuatl word Tonal'lan which means “place where the sun rises”. This was the idea from where the Tonálan lamp took off. How could we create something that expresses the sun rising from the horizon? Or even, how does the sun appear after an eclipse? The result is a contemporary art piece, that plays with the reflection of light on the different layers of glass. We decided to make this piece partly customizable too, pairing it with a LIFX lightbulb that allows you to control the hue, tone, intensity and even timing of the light.
Want to see the whole interview?
We celebrate the artisanal process and the magic implied in every hand-made craft. Every piece that’s born from these collaborations is unique, and only a series of 100 will be produced. But, an artisanal process provides them with matchless textures, characteristics and details. From the 100 pieces, not one will be identical to another.
Each one of the 100 pieces will be signed by the artisan and numbered as what it is - a piece of contemporary art.
Why does this project have value? Through this project, we have two main intentions: to help create new demand and diffusion for these traditional techniques, some of which are disappearing; but also, give them a twist by using a different approach to them. Especially by motivating artisans to experiment across the line between art and craft, working hand in hand with them through a fresh method. Not only for this particular project, but in their future personal work as well.
Shipping is a tricky subject in crowd funding. We did what we thought was the best possible option, for everyone. Including a big bite in our earnings for providing free shipping service.
But this isn't about the earnings, we are thrilled to have a possibility of being able of living by getting into different contexts and designing with new people, connections made by the appreciation of a technique.
Through these months in which we’ve worked in the development of Tehuané, we’ve recieved the help and support from incredible people, creatives, friends and relatives. We want to give special thanks to:
Our parents and our families.
To our artisans: the Zárate Blanco family, Sam, Willy and their team. Chacuco and his family. To Laura Noriega, Regina Pozo, Gonzalo y Laura, Adán Paredes; to Emanuel Bernal, Gina Labrador, Andrea Trimis, Daniela Reyes, the Atenea family; Sofi, Agustín and Pacha, to Ileana, Alba, Elias, Fredrik, Jakob, Anton, Josefine, and everyone who has accompanied us in these months of long hours and hard work; and everyone who has shared their feedback with us.
And also, to Hilario Martínez and his family for their support in our first collaborations. Hilario was invited to be a part of an exhibition in Monte Albán, a great honor in the pottery world, so our collaboration was paused. We are certain that we will create something amazing together in the future.
Risks and challenges
At the beginning of 2018, I decided to quit my job and go to Oaxaca following a hunch. Just as an exercise, no relatives, no connections, just following my gut.
Upon three days of my arrival, I was already collaborating with an artisan and realised this is how I wanted to live: being inspired and inspiring artisans. So I put all my effort and savings into this project.
Today, after almost a year later, and with all of those savings gone, I'm more sure than ever.
We believe the richness of the Mexican culture is a great starting point. There are 122 different types of crafts in México, so the possibilities of creation are huge. After many months working on Tehuané, it’s clear we need your help to go on and kick this project off the ground, that’s why we created this Kickstarter Campaign.
We need your help to continue this journey of learning, teaching and creating with different Artisans and techniques. We want to continue supporting artisanal communities in an economical way but also in a creative way, allowing their life quality to improve and their personal work to grow and expand into new horizons.
The prices of the luminaries are based on the criteria of the artisans. We ask them how much their effort costs, no bargain, they know their material and we accept their own judgment on the pricing.
One of our biggest challenges is that our Luminaries become social design, what does this mean? This means that the designs generated in the collaborations might get replicated by other artisans, who we haven't collaborated with yet. Instead of preventing other artisans to replicate and steal our designs, we will continue our collaborations with our artisans and give them tools so they can be one step ahead and armed with new ideas to create impact.
Also, since the nature of some of the pieces and rewards in this Kickstarter campaign are fragile, we’d like to assure you we will do everything we can to ensure the pieces make their journey to your homes and personal spaces packed carefully and safely so they arrive in a perfect condition. In case of any eventuality, we are ready to respond with a refund or replacement.
Shipping is a tricky subject in crowdfunding. We did what we thought was the best possible option, for everyone. Including a big bite in our earnings for providing free shipping service. But this isn't about the earnings, we are thrilled to have a possibility of being able of living by getting into different contexts and designing with new people, connections made by the appreciation of a technique.
This bundle consists of 4 blown glass cactus tequila shots and a blown glass heart. Both are staple artisanal pieces from Tonalá and are made by our master glassblowers Sam & Willy. Also, this bundle includes 1 personalized postcard, our e-book and of course, a mention on our social networks.
This bundle consists of 4 blown glass agave azul tequila shots and a blown glass heart. Both are staple artisanal pieces from Tonalá and are made by our master glass blowers Sam & Willy. Also, this bundle includes 1 personalized postcard, our e-book, an of course, a mention on our social networks.
4 raku pottery mezcal shots, made by Masterpotter from Oaxaca, Hilario Martínez and 1 blown glass heart by our master glass blowers from Tonalá, Sam & Willy. This bundle also includes 1 personalised postcard, our e-book, and of course, a mention on our social networks.
4 raku pottery skull mezcal shots, made by master potter from Oaxaca, Hilario Martínez and 1 blown glass heart by our master glass blowers from Tonalá, Sam & Willy. This bundle also includes 1 personalized postcard, our e-book, and of course, a mention on our social networks.
If coffee or tea are more your thing, this bundle is for you. Includes 4 raku pottery cups hand-made by our master potter from Oaxaca Hilario Martínez and a blown glass heart from Tonalá by Sam & Willy, blown glass masters. Also, one personalized postcard, our e-book, and of course, a mention on our social networks.
4 blown glass tequila shots and 4 raku pottery mezcal shots. Choose your favorite! The cactus or agave azul tequila shots and the raku or skull mezcal shots to make your Mexican set. This bundle also includes a blown glass heart, 1 personalized postcard, our e-book, and of course, a mention on our social networks.
The leyend says that Tonalá or Tonallan in Nahuatl is the place where the sun rises.
This piece is the result of the third collaboration that took place in Tonalá, Jalisco.
Made by our Master Glassblowers Sam & Willy
Join the team for 3 days in our next collaboration in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán. Understand the technique and the context of this community dedicated to work the copper along the Tehuane Team.
(Accommodation, meals, activities and ground transportation from and to the meeting point included during the 3 days of participation)
Welcome to the team! Join us for a week, learn and understand the history and context of a particular technique, spend time with the artisans and get to know more about mexican culture. You will have a voice on the creative process and be involved in the creation process of one of our pieces during your participation. Your name will be in the credits of the final piece!
(Accommodation, meals, activities and ground transportation from and to the meeting point included during the first week of participation.)