The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.
The Colombia-based textile wizards at VERDI are anything but your typical rug merchants. Using a combination of modern concepts and traditional Colombian techniques, they’ve been crafting rugs, carpets, handbags, textiles, and more that aren’t just composed of fine, fine fibers, but strong and sometimes precious metals as well. Its Bucket Bag—a mix of fique, plantain, and cotton fibers with copper threads throughout—is one good example of what the company produces. Its Sea Shell Weave Bag, which uses 100-percent silver-plated threads, may be an even better one. As said, it’s anything but typical.
Naturally, then, the company’s new Bogotá showroom is a full break from what you might see in other retail spaces from other rug or textile companies. It’s a richly colored, carefully lit space with the walls bearing many organic displays of the brand’s facility with fibers. But it’s at the center of the showroom that things truly take off. Hanging over visitors heads is a fantastic, almost Seussian tree—a supernatural piece of fauna composed of copper, fiber, straw, and other materials. It’s simply stunning.
Obviously, we had to get the full story behind the tree from the team at VERDI themselves and share it with you.
VERDI is a member of The List, the destination for all things Surface-approved. Want to join The List? Contact our team to find out how to apply.
Project Description: VERDI’S “Tree of Life,” the centerpiece for the brand’s new showroom space in Bogotá, Colombia.
Inspiration: Present in almost every world mythology, the “Tree of Life” not only embodies creation itself but also resonates with ancestry and our connection to the past. At VERDI, it symbolizes creative director Tomás Vera’s enduring bond with his late father, upon who’s legacy he built the brand, while emphasizing VERDI’s material identity through the tree’s copper trunk and loose fiber threads.
Blueprint: It all started with an idea that creative director Vera had in 2013, when, after a trip through Mexico, he envisioned VERDI’s “Tree of Life” and had it made into a render that would eventually become a reality. Five years later, it did, and we built the VERDI showroom around it. Fourteen people worked on the tree for almost five months weaving and twirling copper around the straw boning in the trunk, and later sewing non-spun fiber to its branches to create its leaf-like robustness. The entire 400-square-meter exhibition space rests behind contrasts in an unassuming and industrial neighborhood in the city and took eight months to build.
Materials: The core or inner structure of the tree is made out of metal and fiberglass. The metallic tubes wrapping the trunk are made out of copper-woven straw-boning. The foliage is made out of pre-spun, pre-dyed fique fiber.
Challenges: Because everything is delicately handwoven and the tree has such a huge scale, the sole craft behind every minor detail was a very big challenge. The tree’s installation was also difficult, as in order to install the copper wrapping, we were forced to cut the tree top, insert the wrapping, and later put it all back together.
Uniqueness: This piece is particularly special not only because it represents the brand’s material identity (metal and fiber) and encompasses the brand’s three pillars (home, fashion, and art), but it also represents the connection to nature and our ancestors. For VERDI, this is hugely significant, as the brand itself was built upon a family legacy and honors a family tradition. Also, it brings back Colombian craft and reinterprets traditional techniques in a way that has never been done before.
Takeaway: Two days after launching our showroom, a Colombian-based Spanish journalist Rocío Arias Hoffman said, “experience, a word so commonly used by marketeers worldwide, is an omnipresent notion in contemporary brands. To defy its meaning and to actually make it a reality is a whole other business, and this is exactly what VERDI, local design studio of handwoven luxury, is doing today.”
An encounter with the VERDI tree is nothing less than an immersion into cultural indulgence. Not only is it built from a heartwarming legacy of both family and traditional Colombian craftsmanship, but it also echoes our belief that exceptional, sustainable craft is today’s ultimate luxury. The showroom that encompasses the tree contributes to the whole experience (music, coffee, collection exhibition), leaving design connoisseurs and design travelers worldwide an intimate sense of wonder and a reinstated love of craft.
What’s Next: We have been working on new pieces for all our pillars: designing a new handbag collection with organic silk and other fibers, developing new weaves in our design lab, and exploring new, unique, and exciting art pieces for design galleries and collectors. We’re also planning on making a formal introduction to the international market through a powerful activation in 2020. We’re still working on it, but all we know is it will be big, so stay tuned!