Cristal de Luz
Exhibition: Cities | October 5, 2011 by oldadmin
Many livelihood models combine craft and design to generate income for poor communities, but perhaps none has been more successful than COOPA-ROCA, an artisanal cooperative founded by Maria Teresa Tetê Leal, known as TT, in Rocinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha, home to an estimated 180,000 people, was established when job seekers migrated to Rio. Many of Rocinha’s female residents found jobs as domestic workers in the wealthy gated communities nearby, but many more remained unemployed. TT founded COOPA-ROCA to improve the lives of these women by increasing their earning ability through traditional craft production. The cooperative has since partnered with global designers including Cacharel, Paul Smith, Tord Boontje, and Ernesto Neto, and has earned an international reputation for its unique, high-quality craftsmanship.
The Cristal de Luz represents a new direction for the cooperative. Designed by TT in collaboration with COOPA-ROCA artisans, the light is sold under the cooperative’s own label, established in 2010. By creating and launching its own fashion, accessories, and design products, COOPA-ROCA seeks to build a self-sufficient business model that expands work opportunities to even more female artisans in the favela. For the Cristal de Luz, the artisans make cotton and viscose crocheted covers over industrially produced white globes, reflecting the dexterity and skilled craftsmanship for which the cooperative is known. With more than a hundred members, COOPA-ROCA continues to increase the scale of its production. Through more products like this, it endeavors to improve livelihoods in the favela and demonstrate the possibilities for generating successful businesses in low-income communities.
Designer: Maria Teresa Tetê Leal. Produced by COOPA-ROCA Collective. Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2006–present.