Have you ever traveled abroad and discovered beautiful, locally made furniture, accessories or art, but had no way to get it back home? The founders of The Citizenry, Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley, decided to combine their love of far away places and beautiful things all while supporting small artisans. Their new line focuses on a new part of the world each season, bringing handcrafted items that represent cultural history and keep ancient techniques alive. The Citiznery’s pieces combine beautiful craftsmanship and elegant design. But most importantly, they also make a positive impact on the communities they work with. I love stumbling upon beautiful pieces that have an equally lovely story behind them!
We were lucky enough to chat with Carly and Rachel. They took us on a narrative journey to Argentina where their super chic leather butterfly chair is designed and handcrafted. To say we are obsessed is an understatement. Here’s their story…
How The Citizenry Was Born
Rachel: The idea really came from our own frustrations trying to find beautifully crafted items for our own homes. We were looking for high quality, handcrafted pieces, from a company serious about social impact and sustainability, at a price that didn’t break the bank.
Carly: We started thinking about the things in our homes that we treasured, and all those items had a story behind them – either the story of the maker or the place where it was from. We wanted to build a brand that celebrates those people and the stories behind the products. We know everyone can’t hop on a plane to Peru or Argentina to go shopping, so we decided to create the next best thing online: the experience of traveling abroad, shopping back alley markets, and accessing the highest quality materials and makers from around the world, at home.
What Influences Design
Carly: Each season we create a new collection inspired by a different corner of the world. We love taking a technique that’s been around for centuries and juxtaposing it with our more modern, minimal style.
Rachel: Working with beautiful, natural materials is also really influential. We pick geographies based on the quality of a particular natural resource. For instance, in Argentina, we work exclusively with the most premium leathers sourced from the rich grasslands of the “pampas” and use vegetable-based tannins to soften and enrich its natural beauty.
The Story Behind the Butterfly Chair
Carly: We went to Argentina to create a statement piece in leather. After spending time in Buenos Aires, we knew we wanted to create our own interpretation of the iconic butterfly chair. Since the design was originally created by two Argentina architects, it seemed only fitting. So we set out to find the best leather workers & chair makers in Buenos Aires. When we met Santiago, the Lead Designer behind the Palermo Leather Workshop, we knew we’d found the perfect partner.
It really is a collaborative design process with our artisan partners. We both bring ideas, pattern and colors to the table to work together to make something we’re all really proud of. It took a year to perfect the copper finish of our butterfly chair – impossible without Santiago’s expertise and commitment – but it’s become one of our absolute favorite pieces in the collection.
Rachel: It’s a small workshop on a quiet, residential street. You enter through this unassuming door to find a workshop with leather working talent like you’ve never seen. The men who craft these chairs are smart, so entertaining, and of course, were models in a previous life. It is Argentina after all! And like all of our partners, they really so become our friends. Any time we go to Argentina we make sure to set aside time for these epic steak dinners, accompanied by more than a few bottles of malbec, at Don Julio’s or La Brigada… just to catch up!
A Favorite Travel Memory
Carly: One of my favorite travel experiences was finding and visiting the Lurin Artisan Cooperative, our weaving partners that create some of my favorite rugs (the Estrellas & Cielo Azul) in the collection. They’re a tiny, incredibly talented group that does everything from start to finish – from picking berries to make the dyes, to hand-spinning the wool and hand-looming these, huge beautiful pieces.
Each rug takes about six weeks to complete. Watching this group execute every detail, you really start to understand why. After spending a day with them, talking about how important it was for them to keep their culture alive through this craft, we knew we had to shine a light on their story and talent.
We could listen to countless hours of storytelling from these two. The people behind these beautifully crafted pieces The Citizenry have collected just makes them that much more special. If you have yet to check out their gorgeous store, head to The Citizenry now. Read more about the quality and details behind each throw, rug and chair, watch videos from their artisan partners and while you’re there, enjoy an exclusive Apartment 34 discount on everything in the shop. Click HERE for exclusive offer!
P.S. We’ve been working with The Citizenry first hand on a very exciting collaboration. Announcement coming very soon!
images c/o The Citizenry
This post is in partnership with The Citizenry. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34’s doors open.