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Welcome to My Design Alley. A design blog celebrating design in many forms - from interior spaces to new products, stores and interviews with designers both local and from around the world.

The Two of Us | Victoria Aguirre + Carl Wilson

The Two of Us | Victoria Aguirre + Carl Wilson

Today's Two of Us profile is a special one. Victoria Aguirre and Carl Wilson are partners in life and work, and founders of Pampa - a company in tune with design authenticity, fair trade ethics and keeping valuable traditions alive. Victoria and Carl are two of the most passionate people I have interviewed, everything they touch is with love and awareness. The couple regularly trace a path from Australia to Argentina, creating and curating the wonderful Pampa collection which includes rugs, throws, homewares and photographic prints.

The Pampa showroom in Byron Bay. Photo - Victoria Aguirre.

The Pampa showroom in Byron Bay. Photo - Victoria Aguirre.

Hi Victoria and Carl - tell me about how you first met? Victoria: We met 5 years ago in a town called Arica in the Atacama Desert in Chile while travelling. I was covering a photographic story for an adventure mag from Argentina (where I’m from) and Carl was travelling alone exploring and surfing from Northern Mexico to the South of Chile. After travelling through Chile, Argentina and Brazil together, I said yes when he asked me to move to Australia.

A snapshot from Argentina. Photo - Victoria Aguirre. 

A snapshot from Argentina. Photo - Victoria Aguirre. 

What first sparked the decision to work together? Victoria: My first year in Australia I was very home sick and didn’t know what to do for work. I'd always worked for myself as a photographer, graphic designer and journalist but couldn’t find my right path while settling here - I just knew I had to do something creative and challenging.

“Pampa was born from the nostalgic side of missing home and the inspiration of travelling together through South America.”

We travel to Argentina two to three times a year tracing a map between Australia and Argentina, covering the miles and bridging the distance between our two homes. 

Carl: Pampa came from a combination of factors. My need for a career change played a huge part as well as Victoria not being able to find meaningful employment upon arrival to Australia. We'd both seen the amazing works of artisans throughout South America and thought we could bring a selection of what we love to Australia. Together we came up with the idea to bring rugs to Australia which hadn't been seen here before and to create work and keep traditions alive for people in remote communities in Argentina.

“Creating meaningful employment was a risk well worth taking right from the very beginning.”

Where do you gather inspiration, is there ever any shortage? Victoria: Nature is our number one inspiration. Pampa means fertile earth - we are so proud of our name, it's the name of the area in Argentina where I grew up. Each individual collection of hand-woven rugs, cushions, throws and our photographic prints are named after the Argentinean landscape from where they originate. 

“Every collection has a deeply rooted sense of place.” 

Natural dyes extracted from plants, flowers, vegetables, insects, minerals and smoke are used to colour the fibres. The patterns and designs are passed down through the generations.

What’s the best part about working with your partner? Carl: Having the same goals and helping each other achieve them. 

“Being in this together gives us the extra drive we need to make our business succeed.”

Victoria, what do you most admire about Carl? His patience, honesty, calmness, kindness and genuine way of being, ALWAYS no matter what.

Carl, what’s one unique quality Victoria brings to the partnership? Her vision... she is always looking a few steps ahead.

Every Pampa rug is an individual creation, handpicked from the community where it was designed and handwoven

Every Pampa rug is an individual creation, handpicked from the community where it was designed and handwoven

Have you always worked in the creative field? Victoria: Yes. Always. I had some early years working in advertising agencies and then moved into freelance work orientated to graphic design and photography. I worked as a professional photographer for over 10 years before starting Pampa and my job involved writing and taking photos for lifestyle and adventure magazines in Argentina.

Carl: Far from it actually! I am an air-conditioning technician by trade and worked in this field for over 10 years prior to starting Pampa. Being a technician taught me to always think logically, but I had no business or creative working experience before embarking on Pampa. Photography was the limit of my creative past... 

“It’s been a steep but rewarding learning curve since day one.”
The beautiful Monte cushion - the techniques used to make Pampa cushions are part of the fabric of Argentinian tradition.

The beautiful Monte cushion - the techniques used to make Pampa cushions are part of the fabric of Argentinian tradition.

Victoria Aguirre's Fine Art Print photographic collection from Pampa.

Victoria Aguirre's Fine Art Print photographic collection from Pampa.

“What does design mean to us? Creation of an inspired life.”
Victoria Aguirre in Argentina. Photo - Carl Wilson.

Victoria Aguirre in Argentina. Photo - Carl Wilson.

Your focus at Pampa is on Fair Trade - why is it so important to you? Victoria: I can’t imagine working with the beautiful artisans and not paying them correctly. Once you see the time, effort, experience and skill that's put into each piece, you realise just how much they deserve. The profits each artisan makes are reinvested back into their family, used to cover day-to-day living expenses such as buying food and clothing, paying school fees, accessing medical care, and sourcing new tools and materials for weaving. Earning a fair wage has enabled the weavers to form their own co-operatives, giving individuals the added benefit of sharing materials, ideas and work loads.

“Respecting artisan’s creativity and technique helps give communities a sense of cultural independence and pride.”

What are you loving at the moment? Our dog Poncho, travelling through desert landscapes, my collection of Frida Kahlo books (too many!), Doma’s sushi in the Byron Bay Hinterland and Gustavlo Santaolalla’s music album Ronco.

What’s in store for Pampa in 2017? We have a collection of Mini Rugs and wonderful Ponchos, and also a line of beautifully curated Pampa objects coming very soon!!

Thank you Victoria and Carl! | Pampa @wearepampa


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