From New York to Nicaragua … the story of Amano

Buenas Tardes! Who is Amano, and what is the story behind this project?  The idea of Amano started as all good things start, only a dream.   A dream that was planted a while back in the year 2014 at Parsons School of Design, during the senior thesis inspired by Tony Whitfield who created our thesis around the theme of collaborating with non profits to design for the greater good of society.  After graduation, living in New York City led to many different places to explore design, yet something was still missing, something had not been completed, accomplished or explored. A few years later, I randomly visited a friend of mine in Bluefields, Nicaragua, and found myself sitting on the beach watching the sun set, the dream sparked again. On the way back to the airport, out of the blue I saw a sign for San Juan de Oriente, with a lot of ceramics on the side of the road. Skip a few years forward and I find myself back in San Juan de Oriente, doing some personal projects, mold making workshops, learning how to use a kick wheel, learning about the artisans and culture of Nicaragua.

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mold making workshop, San Juan de Oriente
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digging up clay at Laguna Apoyo
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working on a prototype
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visit to the museum in Granada
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kick wheel lessons with Pedro Guerrero

Working in a small town I heard about a group of young entrepreneurs who have been working with local potters for export to the United States.   Doing a bit of research, I learned about Chaka Marketbridge, a Virginia based company exporting small orders via containers every four months.  Skip forward a year later and there I am working with Chaka on orders at the cusp of their business growing!

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pine and clay prototypes San Juan de Oriente
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where is Daina? packing like crazy for Chaka

Our first big break was a Pine Needle and Clay order for West Elm, a Williams Sonoma brand store.  It was an amazing experience, working with potters in San Juan de Oriente and pine weavers in San Jose de Cusmapa.

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Pine Needle and Clay Collection, Chaka Marketbridge
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getting ready for pine weaving production
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process of combining pine needles and clay

Another year later and Chaka Marketbridge got an even bigger order, quite a feat for a small pottery town!  With the help of a group of about 40 artisans, an order of 14,00 units was completed!

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Striped Bottle Collection, Chaka Marketbridge for Steven Allan
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ceramic vases everywhere!
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this order employed over 40 artisans in San Juan de Oriente

Overseeing design, production, quality and packaging for 14,000 units was the most challenging job I have ever experienced.  We packed 4 whole containers over the span of a week with two groups packing in separate areas, a cow truck transporting boxes to the containers, and myself running back and forth.

After two years of living and working on various projects here in Nicaragua eventually I had a room full of samples, and naturally lead me to think … should I or should I not, open a storefront?  That thought kept lingering on in my head and I knew that while riding my bike around San Juan del Sur the perfect place will appear and it did!

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store front before opening

As of now Amano has been open nine months, and everyone could not be happier.  I will also be posting biweekly blogs on the various projects we work on.

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close to opening day with co founder Manuel Corea

 

 

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