How you preserve good taste
...is disclosed by textile designer Katharina Wohlgemuth.
A hacienda on the slopes of the cordillera in the Coffee Triangle. Columbia. A tropical day is dawning. The cultivated red-haired lady is sitting casually elegant on a rattan sofa. From her pastel-yellow wooden veranda she is looking down on the coffee plantation, which is just emerging lush green from beneath the wispy shroud of the early morning mist. In the midst of lush surroundings, with the aroma of the steaming coffee in her nostrils, Katharina Wohlgemuth, a textile designer from Hamburg, is languidly welcoming in the new day.
Aromas with a tale to tell
There is a decorative aluminium tube on the side table. Something special inside is staying dry and enjoying the protection of the metal shell. A cigar. The label gives the game away. It is not a well-known brand but a coveted rarity from a neighbouring area. The connoisseur takes the hand-rolled speciality out of the aluminium tube and breathes in the spicy aroma. The tube has done a good job. She relishes the smell of earth, leather and wood that recounts tales of Columbia. She takes a sip of the mildly nutty tasting highland coffee and then the tales become animated.
It is still early as she embarks on a trip around the area in a willy, as the overland jeeps are called here. There is a hearty welcome for the visitor in the small village shop in the middle of the plantation. The people know each other. The gourmet wants to cook for friends in the evening. She’s happy when she discovers a selection of dried herbs packed in aluminium containers on the shelf. “My experience with buying food in tropical countries has taught me a lesson: only aluminium packaging can guarantee that the contents are protected against the environment on the outside. So I always turn to aluminium.” The shop owner draws the lady’s attention to a new delivery of traditional indigenous materials. Expressively, the colours light up the abstract embroidered patterns on the artfully crafted woven fabrics. The designer is enraptured.
“This is my creative home,” she says, her voice exuding passion. “I’ve been practically everywhere in the world. As a designer I’m always looking for something new. For strong ideas. But I always come back here. The colours and the fragrances are enough to make me completely dizzy,” she explains on the trip back. And sure enough, Mother Nature ignites a firework display for the senses in this corner of the Earth. Orchids glow in an impressive diversity of colours and shapes. Songbirds with colourful feathers chirp in competition. All around there are infinite variations of green, captured in strangely shaped leaves. Then there is the morning sky. The colour gradation from shades of blue and rose pink through to deep orange is picturesque and seems to smoulder on the fringe of the hill’s lush vegetation.