The DNA of AZOTEA is to reimagine furniture that all have a past, a story to tell. In giving these pieces a second life, through the mastery of local artisans, the project collaborates on the road to a more sustainable world. In the last year, founder, Esteban Caicedo took the leap to designing original pieces. Which in his words resulted in the current bombazo the studio is seeing. Esteban explores, recontextualizes, and resignify’s ideas that spark material memory. Many pieces shelter a deep connection with his Afro-Colombian roots. Influenced by the close vernacular relationship communities have to wood and palm on the Pacific Coast region of Colombia — our favorite original designs from AZOTEA, like the Penacho Chair, reflect a merging of Afro and Latin diaspora material culture.


“We have a sale every two months, it lasts a week. It’s a mix of restored and upcycled pieces we curate plus a selection of original pieces designed and produced in our studio. It's basically a potpourri of those two streams coming together and forming the DNA of the project.”

“I am an actor. I studied theater, but I've always loved design as much as I’ve loved being on stage. I loved the set design and props. Above all I really liked doing stuff behind the curtains. One of my favorite things is to stage the pieces around the studio with my partner Ignacio, it’s exciting for people to come and see them, it almost feels like we’re showcasing a new AZOTEA every time we have a new batch.”

“I begin working, as I think many creatives work, without thinking that people will like it. Because if you think that what you are making is going to please people chances are you have less opportunity to be creative. I’ve discovered my process begins with intention, intention of taking things to a conclusion. This whole series of palm and chuspata work has been an exploration of the materials, resignification, recontextualization, and form, a marriage between Afro-Colombian and Afro-Mexican heritage. Many times we discover the piece throughout the process. Sometimes I’ll start with the intention of creating a chair and then I would end up making a bureau or a piece that is more sculptural than functional — people would say ‘I don't know where I’m going to put this, but I’ll take it’.

For example the Penacho Chair, I began with this idea of the chaquira — in English I think it’s called beads or bangles — of the abstraction of the elements that we use in Colombia, but also in Africa for styling our hair. Originally the back of the chair was only supposed to be the stacked chaquiras, but we had extra space at the top. So I told maestro Eugenio ‘let's wrap one last chaquira with material marrying chuspata with rattan’, something that he wouldn’t normally do, and it turned into a headpiece that a woman would wear on her head.”

“At the end of the day I don’t come from a design background, so the artisans have been my teachers. That is why I say the business has grown beyond my ideas, it’s their project too. I think designers are very cautious about the people who they work with. Because they’re afraid to let others know that all ideas are not theirs. Here, it’s a true collaboration. Maybe because I’ve always worked in community when it comes to theater. In theater, there is nothing you do wholly on your own. The play is only going to happen because you have your lighting crew, your sound crew, you have your actors, your director. There’s no ‘me’ doing one thing all by yourself. In theater, it’s a unit, it’s improvisation, your partner is next to you, you rely on their instincts, trusting that they know what they are doing. I’m bringing that collaborative spirit into this. It’s the soul of the project. And I think that’s why the business has been so successful.”

“The beauty of not being formally trained, it’s easier to break the rules.”

— Esteban Caicedo