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Alexander Alvarado

Alexander Alvarado

Concrete art and home decor in Central America

“Starting this project has filled me with enthusiasm, and has taught me that things start to flow little by little when... read more

“Starting this project has filled me with enthusiasm, and has taught me that things start to flow little by little when they are undertaken with faith, willingness and a lot of effort. Since I started, more and more doors have been opened to me.

“I am Alexander Alvarado Villegas, a persevering and creative person. I was born in San José in 1981 and grew up with my family in Ciudad Quesada de San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica, a small city with extensive country life, farms and rivers. My father is a veterinarian by profession, very hard-working, honest, creative and practical in solving problems. From him I learned to work with my hands and come up with creative solutions with objects within reach and improvise their use for other purposes. From my mother I learned optimism, positivism, energy, the capacity for self-analysis and empathy with other people.

“As a family we have gone through very difficult economic times; situations that forced us to make very important decisions to stay afloat. Today I thank life for that, because we are already much better. We have already overcome that stage, but the life lesson was learning to endure those difficult times by making the decisions that have to be made with a cool head and taking new opportunities that came along.

“My wife started the project at a stage in her life when she lost an important source of income as a result of the sudden reduction of work of her largest client. This forced us to look for additional income options; hers was the idea of developing specific objects from grey concrete. She started with training, experimentation, and capital investment. She began to produce, participate in artisan fairs and sell her products very well. Then she was presented with the opportunity of a permanent formal office job, so she put the project aside. The project resumed months after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when I started to work from home. The idea and the potential of the project had always caught my attention, but with greater exposure to designing and creating more objects rather than just being limited to industrial molds. I jumped right in and resumed the project, but this time experimented with colors and blends, including wooden pieces to embellish the designs, as well as experimenting with textures and washed gravels.

“My work experience in the last 8 years was in business analysis of very high value corporate projects and their financial viability. Therefore I wanted to create a sustainable, creative business with a vision bigger than the national market. For this reason, from the beginning of the project, the main vision was to export to international markets. However, even without starting a sales campaign, the pieces began to be sold with a lot of interest and admiration on the part of the clients when they saw the possibilities that the material presents. It is normally grey and used as the main material in the construction of civil works. These early sales allowed me to raise capital, which I invested in tools and equipment by starting a small company without debt and with high expectations of developing more and better designs and products.

“I love doing things with my hands, and solving problems with solutions different from what the market offers us. It is in line with my career as an architect to offer products of great design and quality with a democratic price. The most beautiful thing is the experimentation of new ideas, color combinations and the possibility that with what I have learned and my career I can make practically any object, including new things that are not available in the local market. Sometimes someone proposes a combination that I don't think looks good, but when executed gives me unexpectedly beautiful results. Art in particular produces a reaction of surprise in people, since this is not a material that is normally used in art with the colors and textures presented in the pieces. People are surprised, and do not believe that it is actually concrete.

“I am inspired by my country, Costa Rica. Like the rest of the countries after the Spanish colonization that were highly seismic and with the conditions of a tropical climate, they used constructive solutions from adobe, then evolutions with bahareque (blocks of clay with cane reinforcements) and later concrete. The latter has been used mainly to solve construction from a structural and enclosing aspect, but neglected the high possibility of it to be used from a more everyday and decorative approach. It is here that we try to show the nobility of concrete and its wide possibility of forms, colors and textures.

“One of my biggest dreams is for the company to grow with the placement of the products in the international market, and to develop a national line focused on the decoration and remodeling of larger spaces. New doors that I do not know yet will open new opportunities.”

5 items by Alexander Alvarado

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