Designed by Copenhagen-based sustainable designers Aiayu with traditional craftsmanship, refined materials and an elegant expression at its heart, the Layer Cushion, Rhythm Throw, Twine Cushion and Ample Throw are made in Bolivian baby llama wool.
Here, we visit both the factory in La Paz, Bolivia in which the products are produced as well as taking a trip to the Bolivian highlands to say hello to the very llamas whose wool is used in the designs.
"At Aiayu, we work from the idea that our designs should be made to last in a responsible manner, seeking to change the industry's perception of design and manufacturing. As part of this, we wanted to work with a unique, natural material that was refined under sustainable circumstances, prompting us to look towards Bolivia back in 2005, when we started the collaboration with the factory where the Aiayu for Muuto designs are produced," says Aiayu founder and Head of Design, Maria Høgh Heilmann.
In Bolivia's third largest city of La Paz, located on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 3,500m above sea level, Aiayu found a factory that matched its aspirations. The factory is the only one in the city of La Paz that holds the WRAP-certification, meaning that they produce under lawful, humane and ethical conditions. Adding to that, factory cleans 100% of its water post-production while reusing 75% of it, keeping its use of natural resources as low as possible. The factory also provides health insurance, pension plans, paid vacations and double pay for overtime work.
"When we started our collaboration with the factory in 2005, they only produced wool but in the years that followed, we joined forces with the Danish and Dutch governments to expand the capacity of the factory, so that it now includes a spinning mill, a dye house and a knitting shop too, allowing for that them to do every single step of the production from processing the raw wool to creating the final product," says Høgh Heilmann and adds: "Not only is this a unique thing to do in our industry, but it also allows us to secure a high level of quality and be fully transparent in the production."
Roughly 350 kilometers drive by car south of La Paz is the municipality of Turco, located not far from the extinct volcano of Nevado Sajama, seen in the image above. There, herds of llamas roam freely in the highlands and it is from these llamas that the wool for the Aiayu for Muuto products is sourced. The name of the material, baby llama wool, describes the highest quality of llama wool with the word “baby” referring to the inherent softness of the llama wool.
Many products made in Bolivian wool are made from alpaca fibers. Both alpaca and llama fibers are hollow on the inside, yet the diameter of the hole in llama fiber is larger than that of alpaca fiber, giving llama fiber higher breathability and insulation capacity, allowing for it to keep you cool on hot summer evenings and warm on cold winter nights. Adding to that, llama wool is hypoallergenic and highly durable as it does not peel. Products made in baby llama wool are very resistant to stretching and will retain their shape over time.
"What we found in Bolivia was a combination of local know-how, an inherently traditional craftsmanship and a raw material of the highest quality, all within close distance to one another. By working with the factory and growing their operations with them, we are able to create products that'll last for many years into the future through an emphasis on quality and long-lasting aesthetics, as seen in the Aiayu for Muuto designs," ends Høgh Heilmann.