Panam/Panama is a Craft/Design collaborative project between French designer Léa Baert and different communities of craftspeople in Panama.
The essential goal of Léa's project was to forge bonds, firstly between two cultures via a mutual exchange of different ways of seeing, and secondly between the craftspeople themselves, by bringing them together and overlapping their techniques to create a collection of craft objects.
During a month and a half, Baert three regions of the country searching for craftsmen in the manner of a treasure hunt. She was welcomed into seven workshops which all had different techniques and know-how: after a week in the Changuinola jungle amongst Teribe Indians, Lea spent ten days in a village called Monagrio on the Pacific Coast, and then two weeks in the Membrillo community, in the midst of the forest.
"Throughout improvised workshops with the craftsmen, I discovered each of their own techniques and material. I then offered to experiment altogether by changing their habits and playing with their manufacturing process. This project started with the wish to create bonding firstly between our two distinct cultures by exchanging views but also amongst the different craftsmen themselves, by connecting people and mingling all their techniques," said Léa.
The key piece in the collection recycles ventilator grilles as the “weft” on which Soila and Mario Gonzales weavers from the village Membrillo then proceed to employ their weaving skills. The bases are first crafted by German Ruiz, a potter from the village of La Arena, and then reinterpreted by Asael Magallon, carved from a delicate and rare local soapstone.