Legacy and Artistry

Guatemalan textile atelier Lorenza Filati brings Mayan heritage into modern homes

A visit to the highlands of Guatemala is a lesson in pattern and color. The square women’s tunics worn by Mayan descendants are richly embroidered at the neckline, and sometimes all the way down to the waist. Each village has developed its own pattern language, and once you learn it, you can often tell what village someone is from. Some patterns feature flocks of birds, others a field of bright flowers, and still others a riot of colorful geometries. 

The textiles of designer Lorena Figueroa start with this amazing heritage. “In Guatemala, our textile traditions date from Pre-Hispanic times and have been passed down from generation to generation. Wait: they are not just passed down. They evolve over time, too, as expressions of culture and spirituality. They are a living system of signs and symbols linked to the world-view of the artisans who make them,” she says.

“Standing- and backstrap-looms create about a dozen different weaving techniques, with embroidery often adding another intensely beautiful layer. The shapes and colors shift according to the rules of each Mayan community,” Figueroa continues, admiring the talents of her fellow citizens. 

Figueroa’s company, Lorenza Filati, adapts what she sees unfolding in the mountains around her Guatemala City home base into a home textile collection featuring the best of the hand woven fabrics from different regions of Guatemala. At times vintage fabrics from Mayan clothing come into play alongside newly designed elements. Each object Figueroa produces offers a fusion between heritage and design, which makes her work original and authentic – a combination much sought after by the specialty boutiques designers who will see the Lorenza Filati Collection at Artisan Resource @ NY NOW, a Manhattan tradeshow which runs February 1-5, 2015. 

“For the 2015 collection I wanted to play with geometrical shapes and hand-beaded motifs which take almost three weeks to make. The result is mesmerizing.  I’m still working with the tassels and pompoms I can’t seem to live without, as well as a range of contrasting colors. I always want my pieces to overflow with personality so they become, in the end, jewels for the home," comments Figueroa. “You have to come and see for yourself.”

For more information, visit http://lorenzafilati.com/content/home, or visit their booth at Artisan Resource @ NY NOW, February 1-5, 2015.

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