BY ANNIE WATERMAN
Nunalab turns Peruvian talents into brilliant product made responsibly
Nunalab was born in 2010 out of the shared passion of Ursula Alvarez and Mariela Bazan to fuse design and tradition in a co-creative process with Peruvian artisans. While Ursula and Mariela love to design, they are selling more than product: Nunalab is really an innovative package of services for buyers seeking new and sustainable production scenarios. If you want creativity that evolves in synch with social and environmental responsibility, Nunalab is a revolutionary tool for you.
Nunalab’s latest products blend a deep interest in the environment with a desire to involve Peru’s artisans in non-traditional ways. The new collection of fashion and home accessories are handmade by more than 70 women using up-cycled cotton jersey collected from t-shirt factories around Lima. Working with small strips of fabric, the women crochet, knit, macramé and stitch modern designs. Nunalab loves to work with recycled materials such as phone wire, cords, shoelaces, and cotton. Ursula adds, “We care about maintaining traditional craft technique while fusing more contemporary design concepts, materials, and styles into it.”
Buyers such as Jenny Krauss and Qunuq from the U.S. and Holland, respectively, are not the only ones to recognize Nunalab’s environmental innovation. The Peruvian Ministry of the Environment recently awarded Nunalab with the 2011 Premio a la Ecoefincia Empresarial prize for the best small enterprise offering environmental products in Peru. Ursula says, “We attract foreign buyers not only because we deliver well crafted finished goods, but because we show our clients a new way to source materials and give them an opportunity to work directly with the artisans. Our clients appreciate the handmade component as well as the use of up-cycled, alternative materials.” Jenny Krauss met Ursula in 2010 at the Peru Gift Show and co-designed their popular new line of jersey scarves.
Ursula and Mariela’s knowledge of the Peruvian artisan sphere is vast. Together they share over twenty years of experience with Peruvian artisans. Working with the National Director of Handcraft’s office, they have been instrumental in organizing the National Competition for Artisans & Design, which recognizes innovation in design and production techniques among Peruvian artisans.
Through consulting projects, these dynamic women have provided artisans with design and product development support to create innovative products. Nunalab grew directly out of consulting work, as they realized that offering design services was not always enough and that production oversight and customer service was essential to creating new sales. “We wanted to create a business to make our own links to the market, to really get the goods from artisans to customers,” says Ursula.
What is next for Nunalab? Appearances at the Peru Gift Show in April 2012 and Paris-based Maison et Object in September 2012. Look for a crowded booth: it is likely to be Nunalab.
For more information, please visit www.nunalab.com.