For many the real joy of travel is rummaging around markets at dawn or discovering an artist down a nondescript alleyway. But for the time-pushed in search of intriguing artisan-made objets d’art – a brightly coloured Mexican pedal-loom table cloth (£180), perhaps, or a wooden Venezuelan Mora playing-card box (£55) – the first port of call should be Maison Numen, an online store that opened in June 2016 selling beautiful handmade pieces from around the globe. Founded by Venezuelan art curator Ana Caufman, who traverses the world seeking out the most finely crafted pieces, and ex-financier Jessica Macias, this elegantly designed website launched with 193 pieces from 35 designers working in Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Peru and Colombia, with more to follow from Europe later this year.
“We want to showcase some of the world’s hidden treasures, things that are still not easily accessible,” says Macias. “We show you the piece, the artisan and the story behind it, with pictures and videos so that you feel immersed in the story.” Standout products include a jaunty striped alpaca throw (from £245) from Peru, made from 100 per cent baby alpaca wool, hand-spun and handwoven on an Andean loom. Items range from the affordable, such as the wonderfully graphic Guapa baskets (£45, example second picture), woven by the Guarakena people of the Venezuelan Amazon, to the collectable, such as the intricate blue and white ceramics (set of three from £1,300, examples third picture) made by Mexican artist Ana Gomez in the local Talavera style. There are knitted shawls (from £45), handcarved wooden salad servers (£140, examples first picture), glass tea lights (from £25) and exuberantly embroidered clutch bags (from £175, example fourth picture, £375), making Maison Numen the perfect place to pick up gifts and wedding presents.
“We look for makers who work with traditional techniques and sometimes reinvent them to adapt to modern times,” adds Macias. “Some come from deep in the Amazon rainforest, others from a city workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. And now we are even sourcing from design shows in London.”