We can't really discuss the creation of the latest MZ Casa line without reflecting on the significance of weaving in Zapotec culture. We caught up with MZ's Product Design Director Samantha Wattson to learn about the process of creating a modern product line while also honoring history and tradition.
"The Legacy Collection was truly a blast to create," said MZ's Product Design Director Samantha Wattson. "While we, as a brand, are new to the home decor industry, Teotítlan has centuries on us, and an inherent knowledge of everything rugs. For us, this new line is all about exploring how we express ourselves in a fresh way, within this ancient tradition."
The Legacy of Teotitlan del Valle is rugs. And yet ... so much more than just rugs. Long before the Spanish conquest, Zapotec weavers used plant fibers and back strap looms to weave rugs that bore sacred symbols. Rugs that portrayed the natural world around them and the divine forces behind it.
When Franciscan missionaries came, they built a church out of the rubble of the decimated Zapotec temple. That church still stands in the center of Teotítlan today and some of the whitewashed walls have been stripped down to show those ancient symbols etched into stone.
The monks also brought with them sheep, and looms, and taught the Zapotec weavers how to card wool into yarn, and use the bi-peddle looms to create longer-lasting wool rugs. As before, the Zapotec weavers replicated their sacred designs into rug form, and have continued that tradition today, passing on the skill of weaving, and the significance of the symbols of their ancestors on, generation to generation.
Today, many of the Manos Zapotecas products bear the same symbols that can be found on those stones in the church, that were once the walls of the Zapotec temple. Our work is a balance of honoring the Zapotec legacy, and introducing modern ideas to help translate those ancient designs into everyday life elsewhere.
We pride ourselves on giving the bulk of the creative control to the artisans themselves, trusting in their artistic skill and weaving knowledge. However, we have introduced the concept of seasonal lines with a defined color palette, offer courses on design and color theory, and feedback on samples throughout production. We aim to utilize traditional handcrafted methods that are driven by modern design principles.
"Each of the weavers have a different style and personality that comes through their designs," said Sam. "For this line, we wanted to create a very cohesive collection, with unique pieces that our customers could mix and match. To achieve this, we went back and forth, making changes to the colors or designs here and there. It was really exciting to see everything come together."
The Legacy Collection is characterized by warm earth tones in rich hues. It's combination of sand, ochre red, and sage green are reminiscent of the Oaxacan valley. The minimal designs and color combinations on each piece are unique, designed to be complementary, adding a cohesive yet varied dash of color and culture to your space.
"I wanted this line to be simple, something beautiful to add to your home that doesn’t dominate, but never goes unnoticed," she said.