Krrb recently made a pilgrimage to Lima, Peru, where it is estimated that there are some 100,000 professional scavengers. Earlier in the week we visited with Cuatro en un Baúl, a trio who, with the help of young Peruvian artists and designers, specialize in refurbishing vintage furniture, often giving it a new twist. Today, it is on to the home/studio of artist and designer, Meche Correa and the studio/showroom/home of designer Vacide Erda Zimic.
Scavenging exists on many levels. On one hand there are dumpster divers and on the other there are miners of history, trolling for cultural artifacts that can be tweaked, twisted and reused in a modern context. And then there are hybrids, like the self-taught artist and designer, Meche Correa, who is a little of both.
A visit to Meche’s home and studio is a trip to a land bursting with every color and texture imaginable. She is a master anthropologist who has managed to weave centuries old Peruvian traditions into contemporary life. As sociologist Isabel Alvarez has written, “Each of [Meche's] pieces is an unprecedented and ever-present reinterpretation of the past of Peru.”
While mostly known for her fashion and jewelry, Meche has lately been venturing into the land of product design, drawing inspiration from one of the more under-reported oddities in the secondhand universe.
Thrift stores like the Salvation Army often bundle unsold clothes to be sold by the ton to developing countries. These massive bricks of multicolored fabric, sold for pennies on the dollar to used clothing brokers, are hoisted into shipping containers destined for foreign lands. Meche followed suit, prototyping a coffee table/set of six stools composed of compacted, recycled rags and t-shirts from her surrounding neighborhood.
Meche collects the material and thoroughly cleans it prior to compressing it into tightly packed bundles held in place by brushed-steel bookends.
The result is an amazingly solid, easily adjustable and incredibly comfortable table, stool and even bed.
This new direction is in line with other Peruvian designers who have taken up scavenging to supplement their many efforts, like accessories and jewelry designer Vacide Erda Zimic, whose felt scrap handbags are a truly delightful sight.
Vacide also utilizes a dizzying array of colors in her work but also works in monotones like this electric blue version of the felt scrap handbag.
Both Meche and Vacide are proving that there is more than one way to look at what many consider trash. In the right hands, refuse can be melded into truly beautiful work that is not only a visual rapture but an honest representation of their country’s past, present and future.
Stay tuned for more Scavengers’ Tales from Peru. And check out our visit with Cuatro en un Baúl, a trio who, with the help of young Peruvian artists and designers, specialize in refurbishing vintage furniture, often giving it a new twist.