Pine & Clay – empowering foreign artisans in the American design market


I like well-designed products,

hand-crafted art,

and, very much, a good story.

West Elm has become a visionary in the furniture & home decor retail sphere with their business model that brings us stories of beautiful products from far away lands and people, while empowering those very people to have a measurably improved quality of life.

This committment to social responsibility has hit home in Atlanta with the kick-off of the Chaka products now available at the store.  Chaka MarketBridge is a fair-trade nonprofit started by Neil Paine as the result of a trip he took to Nicaragua.  While presenting Chaka and its products, Neil had plenty of stories of the jovial project manager, the man able to afford a real house for his family (instead of a lean-to temporary structure), and women who boldly took the step to organize themselves, despite the prevalent machismo mindset in their village, to now be producing many of the pottery pieces now for sale.

Examples of the pottery now available through West Elm is available here.

Also, Chaka has many beautiful pieces available on their website itself, here.

May your eyes feast on the beauty of empowering the artisans of the world.
chaka_mplichta-9 chaka_mplichta-8 chaka_mplichta-7chaka_mplichta-6chaka_mplichta-5chaka_mplichta-4

chaka_mplichta-2 chaka_mplichta-1

Neil will be back at West Elm in Atlantic Station this coming Saturday, August 24, to tell his story and that of the artisans.


Author: Meg C

Meghan is a recent Master of Architecture graduate from the University of Cincinnati. She is interested in all aspects of sustainability, finding the most pertinent ways it relates to the built environment including social justice in terms of material choice, implementation, and life-cycle. While pragmatic concerns are ever-present, she constantly explores the inexplicable beauty to be found in the intersection of order and the poetics of space.

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