Letters from a traveller | #10

From the Xingu to the other side of the ocean - Geneva and WIPO
February 20, 2020

When Yankatu  started the only thing I knew was that I was passionate about Brazil, its crafts, its craftsmen, its fauna and flora, its traditions and vibrant energy, and that I wanted to show people the beauty that I saw, but that I felt that not everyone saw. I wanted them to look at Brazilian handicrafts to see beyond, to see the artisans working, the places where they were made, the stories they brought embedded in the braid, in the lace, in color, in the drawing. I wanted them to see the beauty and importance of every detail, breathe the air of the forest, feel the breeze in the field, hear the song of birds. I wanted  you to know  how much knowledge  those who paint with chicken feathers have, create colors with fruits, leaves and roots, give life to the stone, turn straws into baskets, clay into shimmering pots, translate their stories and regions through their hands.

I wanted this so badly that several times I made seemingly uncommercial decisions so as not to give up my purpose, not to divert the route. So much so that I once heard from a dear craftsman that I looked more like an NGO. It is that I believe that it is possible to have social impact without having to be NGOs, it is possible to develop relationships where everyone benefits... thisis one of the pillars of my work. So much so that it was selected as a successful example of valuing local culture, generating income, social inclusion and female empowerment.


In Geneva I had the opportunity to present different Brazilian artisanal traditions to directors of foundations, institutes, museums, investment funds andcompanies. I talked a lot, I showed photos of works of artisans from north to south of the country in order to disseminate the numerous possibilities for developing works  that, in addition to being beautiful, will help communities to have sustainable income generation and the maintenance of traditional techniques that run the risk of disappearing for lack of a market that understands its value. It was difficult to know what to present among the numerous techniques and communities that exist in Brazil! For this I counted on the dear Josiane  Massom  and Helena  Kussik,  artesol  (  www.artesol.org.br) who helped me to verify needs and characteristics of each typology and biome.

I have been accompanied by ambassador Susan Kleebankfor days, the great heart behind the assembly of the exhibition and the web of incredible contacts Ihad, Eliane  Guglielme,  director of the Museum The House of the Brazilian object ( https://acasa.org.br/)  and Mariana  Berutto, who together with Viviane Fortes, brought to the exhibition the work of the Weavers of Tocoiós  and embroiderers of the Tannery. When he was not attending meetings, he visited the city'smuseums, which have beautiful and unmissable collections for those who love to understand a little more about history and culture. And, of course, I would stop from time to time to have a coffee and eat a sweetie,  procurso I took the opportunity to observe the movementof the city, its colors and faces, I try to absorb everything that was possible during the    durante os 5 days I spent in the city.

While all this was happening I still had the privilege of seeing posted by the design team of Instagram, @design, the article about the interview I gave to Kerri and Kristen in the gallery of Yankatu, in São Paulo, a few days before traveling. Once again I was moved, as they came from New York and chose Yankatu as one of the places to be visited during their stay in the city. They traduziram the two and a half hours that I spoke non-stop (until I get scared with me from time to time!) in posts thatdid not miss anything, captured with affection the essence of  Yankatu and even finished the visit embraced with  Koda, my love in the form of Husky Siberian, which appears in the  last  photo  of the stories with me.  comigo.

And it does not stop there, while all this was going on, I still went with the new project: XINGU.

I asked  Stive,my dear friend Mehinako who makes wonderful benches, to harvest in the kaupuna village region barks and leaves of trees, fruits and flowers, from the trees used by them in the construction of hollows, crafts and rituals, and send to Maibe, who is abotanical researcher and does a beautiful job at Mattricaria  there in Brasilia, for her to discover the redic properties of the region.

The idea is to bring the Xingu in all shapes in the next collection of  Yankatu!

Soon I go to the village again, this time taking with me even more dreams! In the next letter I tell you more about research, design, people and emotions!

A hug, with affection,

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros

About the author

Yankatu - Design + Art with Brazilian soul

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros Penteado

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