Inédito award winning design studio ITZ Mayan Wood Furniture began with a fallen Pich tree. Ripped down from Hurricane Dean, the tree — 1.5 meters in diameter — provided the material with which designer Ania Wolowska and Luis López made their first table in the Bacalar Lagoon region of Quintana Roo.
Their Ocum Side Table just won the Inédito prize for Best Design and 100,000 pesos ($5,354) at Design Week Mexico, which took place Oct. 5-9. Ania and Luis’s studio specializes in producing high-quality furniture from a variety of native species of tropical hardwood, combining modern design with a commitment to environmental sustainability. Their designs, which preserve organic forms, represent an allegiance to the surrounding natural beauty.
The studio started five years ago in the Bacalar Lagoon region of Quintana Roo with basically no budget when a member of a of the neighboring Mayan ejidos (an area of communal land used for agriculture) offered them the pitch tree that had fallen on their property nearly four years prior. With this tree they made the first table.
After a year in Poland, where Ania finished her masters in furniture design at the Academy of Fine Art, Luis and Ania decided to move back to Quintana Roo, captivated by the breathtaking, turquoise Bacalar Lagoon and the peopleof the region. “We discovered extraordinary richness in wood species in this region almost by accident, and also a large number of talented carpenters,” Luis told The News.
The name ITZ, Mayan for “tree resin” or “sacred essence of things,” was decided upon in order to pay homage to the Maya communities of the region and traditions that inspired their designs. When they started the brand, everything was made by Ania, Luis and one Maya carpenter. In those first few months, Ania designed the studio’s first chair, “Kulche chair,” which eventually evolved into the “Tamay chair,” the piece shown at Museo Tamayo at Design Week.
The opening of the studio’s workshop quickly followed, along with a catalog of 20 products the hiring of their first eight employees. Ania currently designs all the furniture. Although they now have a team of around 28 employees, she supervises the entire process from beginning to end.
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