Object of My Affection
Hechizoo’s Heart of Gold
Lee F Mindel FAIA, architect-extraordinaire, shares the latest on what's catching his eye
In these strange and challenging times, we designers still feel a strong need to persevere in our work—to continue creating and inspiring. An incredible example can be found in Colombia, where COVID struck the artisanal community amid already complex conditions. Bogotá’s local weaving atelier, Hechizoo Textiles, met the challenge with leadership, dedication, and much needed support.
As the pandemic led to widespread closures, Jorge Lizarazo, who founded the atelier in 2000, came up with a way to both safely quarantine and create, offering his employees the option to shelter in place on site at the workshop while continuing to work and generate income when Colombians needed it the most.
Lizarazo writes, “In truth, COVID has made us all more introspective. It has imposed on us certain conditions that have changed the way we observe and live. We have been redirected to closely observe spaces we don’t usually think about. Now the country house, the street to the grocery, and the workshop have become the main inspiration behind what I do.”
Hechizoo translates from Spanish to English as spell, charm, or enchantment as well as something handmade. This meaning becomes stunningly manifest in the Hechizoo’s textile production, which integrates precious and mundane materials, organic fibers and monofilament. The process and the result are spellbinding.
It’s no surprise that Lizarazo is trained in architecture. The material qualities are heightened by his focus on elements of proportion, structure, opacity, and movement, deserving of the title that Lizarazo gives his craft: soft architecture. But he is also a storyteller who emphasizes narratives of inclusion and diversity. His new series, for instance, integrates aspects of Japanese culture with native South American techniques, inspired by his visit with a tatami master in Japan.
For us architects and designers, Hechizoo powerfully exemplifies passion for craft. As the world shut down, Hechizoo’s artisans have woven a way forward in gold, transforming their environment in the pursuit of art while providing a model for how we can turn a difficult situation into an opportunity to serve a higher purpose. ◆