Droog has been commissioned to redesign the CACAU cultural center in São Tomé. The aim is to contribute to a sustainable socio-economic infrastructure for the island’s cultural center that celebrates art, music, fashion, film and food.
Throughout the project, Droog encourages the local community to participate in the project to further forge a community home. In the coming months, construction for the redesign of the interior of CACAU will take place. Droog is currently holding a workshop on the island to realise an important element for the new interior, a 90-meter long curtain designed specifically for the center’s new look.
Under guidance of textile designer Nikkie Wester, a community of around 25 men and women living on the island are being trained to weave the substantial textile. The newly learned skills and techniques hope to inject fresh economic activities into the community, as well as support the existing island-artisan activities.
The curtain offers CACAU the possibility to divide and/or open the space according to the needs of the center. It will ultimately represent the collective identity of the community, through the stitch of each individual. The artwork is rich in personality and identity and combines visual references of São Tomé’s flora and fauna, made from local non-toxic dyes and materials found on the island (such as banana fiber and pigments from plants and minerals). A poem dear to São Tomé, written by Alda Espírito Santo will lace the bottom edge of the artwork, uniting the piece. The fundamental idea of the collaboration was to recycle and use as many local materials and waste items as possible to realize the project.
The process involves locally handmade tools and looms, with one-on-one weaving guidance by Nikkie. The men and women began with smaller looms for training, and will eventually move to 5 larger looms (working with 3 people per loom) in order to realise the full design.
The training period also involves comprehensive dying techniques, mainly using an ancient tint called indigovera tincture (Indigo). The indigo plant is native to São Tomé however there were no current applications of indigo use as a dying material. The group who will assist in dying process is made up of 5 people, from a small cooperative called Uê Tela based in São Tomé. Other colours used in the CACAU project are a very dark grey/green, green, light green, yellow and pink, which are already being produced by Uê Tela from all natural materials.
The mission of the CACAU center is to enhance and develop cultural enterprise in the community, where even the redesign intertwines this mission in the minutiae of its development. Though the completion of the build is a few months away yet, the spirit of the Center is still very much awake.
Our local man on the scene, Dário Pequeno Paraíso is providing his talents to document the process. Keep up with Droog on social media to follow the process!
all images by Dário Pequeno Paraíso