There are people who inhabit spaces so absolutely that they become an extension of themselves. Casa Chiqui is just that: a home for the treasures that Chiqui de Echaverría has discovered around the world thanks to her keen eye for handcrafted design. Her iconic shop in Cartagena's Centro Historico houses the exceptional pieces Chiqui has brought back from her travels to destinations as diverse as Indonesia, Morocco, India and Mexico.
Driven by her fascination with the extraordinary and inimitable, Chiqui began bringing these objects to Cartagena as decoration for her family home, which soon took on the feel of a global crafts museum. And not only because of the variety of pieces brought from different countries, but because its doors were always open to friends and travelers from Colombia and the world.
As part of Chiqui's dream of sharing a part of her world with all of Cartagena - and seeing that her collection of treasures was beginning to overflow the confines of her home - the doors of Casa Chiqui finally opened. Housed in a 1930s warehouse restored by Chiqui herself, the shop has become a favorite destination for visitors to Cartagena.
Alongside our treasures from around the world is Casa Chiqui's unique line of jewelry and accessories, which combines Chiqui's global experiences with the art and spirit of her beloved Cartagena. Designed by Chiqui herself, each piece in the collection is handcrafted by Colombian specialists in our Cartagena store.
Chiqui collaborates with 94 artisans from indigenous and rural communities throughout Colombia. Mostly women heads of households, our artisans use ancient techniques and natural fibers, such as iraca and cumare palm, to bring Chiqui's designs to life. Working together, they have managed to combine traditional processes or develop new techniques to transform classic products of Colombian folklore, such as the Wayuu backpack, into extraordinary creations.
In many cases, entire communities are sustained by their artisan work; that is why Chiqui's efforts to renew and reinvent these traditions are crucial, as this touch of modernity could guarantee the future of these ancestral techniques and the communities that safeguard them.
For communities like the indigenous Wayuu, the art of weaving is much more than a way of earning a living. For them it also symbolizes the spinning of tradition, the passing of the fibers of culture from mother to daughter, from one generation to the next. The same can be said of the plaiting of arrow cane, which the communities of the Colombian Caribbean coast weave into designs called pintas, and which reflect the legacy of a particular family or tribe. A deep knowledge of these customs has only reaffirmed Chiqui's commitment to celebrating the typical crafts of her country.
I am a tireless traveler and a lover of unique objects of exceptional beauty. Burma, Mexico, Thailand, India, Turkey, Indonesia. I have visited the villages and markets of these countries countless times since I was a teenager, when I spent several months exploring the islands of Bali with just a backpack. Since then, I have never stopped traveling, nor have I stopped cultivating my collection of global treasures.
A Costa Rican by birth, Cartagena is where I am happiest. And you could say that the story of my house in the Centro Historico is the story of my life. More than thirty years ago, my husband and I bought a house there that from the beginning kept its doors open to our family and friends, and friends of friends. Our intimate and informal gatherings quickly turned into large parties where people from Cartagena gathered with visitors from all over the world.
I have always loved welcoming people into my world, and when I founded Casa Chiqui a decade ago my dream was to build a home away from home, a meeting space for other travelers like me. Those who have visited my boutique know that, at Casa Chiqui, the extraordinary is the norm.
And while I continue to bring the wonders of the world to my beloved Cartagena, I have never overlooked the quality of Colombian crafts. Over the years I have cultivated relationships with master artisans from all over the country, whose work is also on display at Casa Chiqui.
Later, and prompted by my daughter, I began designing my own line of jewelry and accessories. By experimenting with the materials and techniques of traditional Colombian crafts, I discovered their unexpected possibilities and developed something surprisingly wonderful.
Welcome to Casa Chiqui. I hope you feel at home. With love,
Chiqui de Echavarría.