The Palm Project’s Natural Bags and Baskets

Modern designs hand woven by craftswomen from Tlamacazapa, Mexico

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Mexico City-based designer and CENTRO university professor Moisés Hernández has been dedicated to forwarding design in his native country. His curatorial shop Diario is stocked with unique products made in Mexico (like this two-toned bright blue tablecloth we eyed a few years ago) and each item freshly reinterprets something traditionally handmade. Hernández continues to inject modern design into storied craft with his latest effort, Palm Project.

Thanks to funding from Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, Hernández visited the small town of Tlamacazapa, Guerrero in the mountains, where many residents weave objects out of palm by hand. He collaborated with twenty craftswomen to create new designs of the bags and baskets they were already skilled at making—helping them earn income and support their craftsmanship.

“I describe my design style as respectful of the ordinary objects that people have used or use in our lives,” Hernández tells CH. “My job is to improve these objects, refresh or adapt them to other contexts or markets. Design needs to improve people’s lives and has to be simple, efficient and with a touch of surprise.” The Palm Project collection offers items with straightforward functions—a daily bag, different sized and shaped baskets, trays—but a closer look at each of Hernández’s designs reveals careful consideration.

Rigid copper handles in the picnic basket and tote bag, for example, add a contrasting element to the natural palm. The shiny metallic material used to create the dramatic half-golden baskets similarly puts the spotlight on the palm. It also is a way to add color without having to dye the palm—the lack of water in the area was one of the issues the craftswomen brought up in dialogue with Hernández. Another way to optimize the water used was to recycle the pigment when dyeing a whole set of baskets, creating a gradient of dark to lighter trays.

The craftswomen will be selling some of the products themselves locally in markets; Hernández is also offering them from his online shop Diario at fair trade prices (the color gradient trays will be added next month). Check out more photos of the making process in the slideshow above.

Images courtesy of Palm Project