Born out of a desire to create a culture and community of design in Chile, Krä is a company co-founded by Pedro Comparini and Cristian Sanhueza, along with a group of friends who wanted to create something that was rooted in Chilean traditions, but was also new. "Design doesn't really exist in Chile," says Comparini. "We are working in a different concept and to bring people together."
Krä finds its inspiration from the Selkman, a native tribe of the Patagonia region, who would build large bonfires to keep warm in the harsh climate. Body painting was an important part of the Selkman's expression, and they would cover themselves in basic geometric patterns using only mud, ash, and other natural materials with the colors of black, white, and red. Light also played an important role in the tribe's culture. Their two main Gods were the sun and the moon. In 1520, Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the region. His crew witnessed the Selkman's bonfires on shore and named the area Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire. By the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the aboriginal population had perished due to disease brought by European settlers.
Conceived as light sculptures or "light containers," rather than a light fixture, Krä's vessels draw on the Selkman traditions and their material palette of mud and earth. As Comparini and Sanhueza explain, "Our work is inspired by our country's aborigines, their nature and materials, and by means of pure and sustainable processes that respect nature and the environment." Working with a small group of craftspeople, each vessel is modeled, glazed, and fired by hand, the result being that no two pieces are ever identical. Each light vessel has a distinctive shape that works with both the positive and negative output of a light source. The vessels are outfitted with warm ambient sources, which are in keeping with the glow of a candle or firelight, once again paying homage to the source of their inspiration--the Selkman bonfires. The first series of light sculptures is comprised of three "containers." Samanta, a sheet of clay with a single ripple, casts a flat pattern of light; Roxxane, a cylindrical tube, provides a spotlight effect; and Alvar, a kidney-bean-like shape, creates an amorphous wash of light. The stands and bases are formed from stainless steel, used for its contrasting effect against the clay. The texture of the clay also adds another dimension to light's interface with the vessel.
Krä is well on its way to establishing itself internationally with exhibits at several design shows including the Milan Furniture Fair this past April. By drawing from its Chilean heritage, the company has created a contemporary art form while respecting tradition.