So Cuban artists of renown do well abroad, and are gaining traction domestically. But what about Cuba’s lesser known creators and craftsmen?
Its wood workers? Making 2x4s with century-old machines. Its architects? Trying to salvage historic homes with salvaged materials.
Or graphic and industrial designers? Many of these folks don’t have the cash to shop abroad, for supplies or new clients. They have their sites set on the same emerging middle class. Their neighbors with the bakery, the tour company, the bar, the bike repair shop.
So say the owners of Clandestina, Havana’s first independent design store. It’s a place to buy something just because it’s pretty, or clever. This is the forward edge of Cuban creativity and enterprise.
For co-owner Idania del Rio and her partner Leire, these are heady times. Everything is new. From ordering a sign for their store facade to paying taxes to marketing and sales. All this, while trying to create.
“We’re looking for new ideas, especially in silk screening. But the design has to be viable. It has to be something really unique. It can’t be high-tech here because we don’t have anything high-tech. So we designers have to hold tight to aesthetic and conceptual values. We’re never going to have super-complex industrial design products. It’s more about the content, exploiting an aesthetic that we’ve been pursuing for a while. ”
You might call that aesthetic Second-Hand Chic. Or in this case, Third-hand. Del Rio crosses town to meet with her silk-screener, David, to see if his ink will take to her latest creation: Recycled recycled-handbags.
The original use for these bags was to ship sugar or rice on container ships. The dock workers then sold the bags to women who made big bags, who used them for shopping.