Last year, a group of architects from El Salvador and other Latin American countries teamed up with graphic, furniture, textile and interior designers with the belief that peer support was needed in order to succeed on the global market. With the first of its kind physical "home for design" in the heart of El Salvador, the Carrot Concept was created.
A view of a studio as seen from the garden
“The Design community here in El Salvador has come so far in such a short period of time. Our exposure is increasing and people are noticing that we can cause positive change in the community," says co-founder and designer Harry Washington. "What we needed was a ‘Carrot on a Stick’ to encourage Salvadoran designers to keep the momentum going. We needed something visible and permanent to support the goals we’re trying to achieve.”
Carrot Concept designers, from left: Guillermo Altamirano, Claudia and Harry Washington, Josefina Alvarez, Jose Roberto Paredes, Roberto Dumont
Part studio space, part exhibition space, the Carrot Concept is a cross-discipline home for a team of designers including Harry Washington and his wife, Claudia Washington, both furniture designers; Guillermo Altamirano, a specialist in green architecture and bioclimatic design, Pipa & Co's Josefina Alvarez, a graphic design company that includes textile designer Alexandra Lopez and screen printer Marvin Portillo; and Roberto Dumont Associates, designers who collaborate with local workshops on designs for everyday life.
A table by Ernesto Pastore beside a chair by Claudia & Harry Washington
Less than a decade ago, El Salvador had little presence on the global design scene. In 2007, in an effort to promote native designers on the global scene, it launched Contempo, the country's first national furniture and design exhibition and competition, with financial investment from foreigners, including industry heavyweight Jerry Helling of Bernhardt Design.
The annual competition has sent many winners to New York's ICFF, and this year, the Carrot Concept will have its very own presence at satellite fair Wanted Design, which is open to the public from Friday through May 21. Carrot Concept members attending include Alvarez, the Washingtons, Jose Roberto Paredes, Guillermo Atlamirano, Roberto Dumondt, Isabel Muyshondt, Luis May and Maria Delgado.
A pair of bookcases by Cinco Patas Al Gato
“We often talk so casually about how focusing on design can change the world, but in El Salvador a passionate group of makers, thinkers and doers is putting that to practice. They’re attempting to influence the national dialogue through art and design,” said Helling.
A chair by Marka Moderna
The Carrot Concept home also includes an on-site boutique where visitors can purchase Carrot Concept designs as well as an assortment from other local designers and artists. Soya, an organic cafe co-founded by a local doctor, offers visitors delicious and healthy smoothies and other alternatives to traditional Salvadoran cuisine. If you can't make it to El Salvador, an ecommerce site for shopping the Carrot Concept's assortment is expected to launch in June.
Written by Zoe Settle