The Marvin and Sylvia Rubin Family Foundation announced that it has awarded a grant to R.I.S.E. Artisan Fund to fund a textile project led by Maddalena Forcella and Ana Paula Fuentes, social designers based in Oaxaca in southern México.
The designers will be working with 26 indigenous weavers in San Bartolo Yautepec, a Zapotec village in the highlands of Oaxaca. Using back-strap looms that predate the arrival of Spanish colonialists, the Zapotec weavers produce fabric with intricate brocade motifs. The fabric is then used to create huipiles, traditional Mexican garments. “For us, these are some of the most beautiful huipiles in México,” Fuentes said. “But unfortunately the weaving tradition has been disappearing little by little, mainly because of the lack of markets. Many women have stopped weaving.”
The social design project aims for more than creating new product designs, but also to create positive impact for the weavers and the community, explained Fuentes. While the designers aim to transform traditional textiles into contemporary design, elevating the textiles for contemporary markets, they also aim to enable the weavers, most of whom are women, to establish their own enterprise and build their own market relationships. “What is transformational about the social design process of Ana Paula and Maddalena is how they engage with these communities and transform the design process for creating value,” said Stella Rubin of the Rubin Foundation.