In 2011, Marta Castañeda founded a company that designs and implements social development projects in crafts and manufacturing, after she fell in love with Peruvian textiles. País Textil was created to support the production and business development of the groups of artisans and get fair prices for their work. It was also important to recover and foster ancient techniques of textile weaving, such as backstrap loom, and enhance the value of traditional Peruvian handicrafts. First class materials are used to make the País Textil products keeping in mind contemporary designs inspired by the textile living culture of Peru. We joined Marta Castañeda to find out more about her brand, the Peruvian culture and intercultural exchange.
Marta Castañeda, start by tagging yourself with three words.
Creative, persistent, workaholic.
What is the last thing you created with your hands?
Today, a moist tortilla of tomato, ham, smoked tabasco and eggs for my daughter’s breakfast.
If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?
Weave with great skill using a backstrap loom.
Looking back on everything you’ve done in your life – What’s one thing you are proudest of?
I have been able to change, rotate, redo and rebuild the course of my life.
“One of a Mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?
It allows us to understand that discovering something or someone new, different, surprising or original, is an experience that enriches us – even if it is disturbing at first – and is not a threat!
Your brand ‘País Textil’ and its products are made in Peru. What differentiates Peru from other countries? What does it have that no other culture has?
Peru is an astonishing and tangled country. A steep mountain range of the Andes and the cold water of the stream of Humboldt make it unique: coastal deserts in the equatorial zone, mountains almost at the edge of the sea, diverse forests… A large forest with enormous rivers forms the space where a varied range of cultures and people have been living – with a special agitation – for the last 600 years. It is one of the countries in which the most intricate and beautiful textiles on this planet have been developed – and they are still being done. This human and cultural strength makes it different, unique, rich and conflicting.
You have been working with artisan groups throughout Peru for many years. How did you get in touch with the rich handicraft culture of Peru?
It all started at my house as a child. My mother had decorated the most private part of the house with handicrafts. She was a great admirer of folk art and craftsmen. I think I inherited it.
Talking about other senses – how would you describe the “Tastes of Peru” and what is your favourite?
Peru is so diverse that it is difficult to say what Peruvian taste is. A hundred possibilities come to my mind and then different ones. I believe that we are people that really value food. That means, to share, to give, to meet and to celebrate and to thank. And create and mix. And I also believe that we are survivors; We have succeeded in turning obstacles into benefits. Immense terraces of cultivation in steep mountains, aqueducts so that the desert flourishes. And agriculture and fruits in each of the different climates. And we built cities of mud and stones and colours. And what I like most, the wonderful fabrics woven with mastery. For the rich and the poor!
What story do the País Textil products tell us about Peru and its people?
País textil tells us about the melting pot, what is now Peru. And it also speaks of resistance. I think that textile is the great indigenous resistance to conquest; have survived for centuries not only the pre-Hispanic textile techniques, identical but also iconography. And today, we help with a different look, with a contemporary design, to preserve a great tradition. And to ensure that the guardians of this tradition, by inheritance, keep it and can support their families.
We are delighted to add some of the País Textil products to our selection. Which one of them is your personal favourite and why?
The zig zag clutch. A weaver once told me that this design looked like mountains; Another that it resembles waves of the sea when it is very angry. I now see only geometry, and I like it. And when people ask me, like you asked me now, I remember what these weavers said. Technically this type of design is more complex. The weaver is forming the figures while weaving, line by line. Thus, I also feel admiration when looking at the bag. And lastly, I also like the feeling of just seeing fabric and leather inside, without hooks or buckles.