Tying the knot: The Chaotic Beauty of Macramé
Updated: Jan 28
Paloma Santa Cruz and Ricardo Duran, partners in love and art, share the story behind their Macramé creations at MxAtelier
Written by: Arianna Meschia for The Nopo
The beauty of MxAtelier’s macramé creations can only be paralleled by the bright enthusiasm and genuine passion for the craft the power-couple behind this Mexican brand exudes.
MxAtelier is the work of Colombian artist Paloma Santa Cruz and Mexican architect Ricardo Duran. I met them over Zoom at their home-turned-workshop in artsy Cancún, where huge bundles of strings laid scattered in wild heaps waiting to be reconfigured into an orderly and precise sequence of knots, gradually transforming into a masterful work of art.
Their workshop is, effectively, how I imagine Paloma’s brain: a chaotic and colorful playground, where a thousand ideas fly through the air, bursting, bubbling, exploding with creative energy. As Ricardo and Paloma lift a massive macramé wall hanging I can’t help but smile at the profound love I see in their eyes - for the craft and, clearly, for each other.
In 2017, Paloma was in Cancún to visit a friend when a spontaneous Valentine's party at her friend’s flat brought Ricardo to her. She had planned to stay only a few months, but it seems Ricardo’s bright eyes finally won her over after a fair amount of chasing; when Paloma finally accepted to go out with Ricardo, a pizza and excellent conversation got her hooked. Since that day four years ago, the two have been inseparable in love and in art.
It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that they have somehow managed to survive lockdown in a flat surrounded by macramé to the point of drowning, Paloma tells me laughing, as Ricardo explains their life and business partnership works because they fully complement each other.
“Paloma does all the creation while I take care of business. I’m the one who speaks to clients and suppliers or scours the internet to find some obscure piece of string she saw six months previous in a market stall,” he chuckles, before becoming serious again. “And at the same time, she’s very good at keeping me in check whenever my workaholic nature makes me slip into work chat in the evenings in front of the TV!”
The family aspect of the business extends to Ricardo’s parents, who help source and store materials in Mérida, where he is originally from, and to Paloma’s ones in Colombia. She says she owes a lot to her parents, having inherited her dexterity from her mother and her eye for design from her father, who used to run a family business with her back in Cartagena.
Family and tradition are key elements in Mx Atelier’s production and ethos. Everything is done 100% by hand, without any machines apart from a few telares to wrangle the pieces of cotton string, which can reach 9 meters in length.
As much as knotting some string might seem like an easy task, the real artistry in macramé work lies in the painstaking precision needed, as well as of course in the inventive designs Paloma conjures up from her mind hive of images and references.
“Every piece is absolutely unique, and I speak to the client at length to understand where they’re going to put it or how they will use it. I don’t design per se, I might make a few sketches, but the finished product always changes a lot throughout the process of production.”
Despite there being a few well-defined categories of knots, no two macramé creations are the same, because even the tightness or looseness of the knots themselves will give you a different-looking result, making it an incredibly versatile artform with huge design potential.
Using inspirations from her travels, online research, other macramé or knitting work, and even woodcarving (pro tip: it’s great to find inspiring patterns!) Paloma magically transforms something as simple as cotton strings into stunning pieces of art. Her obsession with detail and exuberant passion for the discipline are what make MxAtelier’s work so unique.
“The first time I saw macramé I was so completely taken by it that I came very close to instantly quitting my job to dedicate myself only to it,” Paloma remembers thinking back to her early days of experimentation when she used to make everything from clothing to lampshades.
Completely self-taught, soon enough she was getting orders from both commercial venues and private homes, and has since been able to leave her job behind. As the orders kept coming, however, Paloma and Ricardo have stayed adamantly true to the authenticity and uniqueness of their brand, shying away from more commercial items or technical shortcuts. “We don’t do what sells, we sell what we do,” Ricardo wisely says to me in closing.
If you’d like to fill your home, office, or business with their beautiful creations, head over to our shop and browse their stunning Chaos collection available from today!