Style of the Southwest – how you can incorporate it in your home

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by Beth Wegener, October 2021

Southwest decorating style is the liberating option you’ve been longing for. Southwest interior design embodies many popular trends on social media right now, meaning you have a wealth of ideas and products available with a few searches, such as this.

As an interior design strategy, it works because it is flexible enough to remain relevant to design trends, while maintaining a depth of timelessness. Southwest style is imbued with a deep history stemming from architecture and textile styles of the American West and Mexico. It pulls from Native American and Spanish influence, as well as years of innovation through generations of designers including architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. And it can be used subtly with unifying pieces or as an all out theme for your whole space, giving you complete control over your style rather than it controlling you.

Style modifications

The architecture and pallet of this style allow for great adaptability. The architecture of the style is exemplified by natural, soft lines. It imitates the geography of the American south west with symmetry and unexpected gentleness for such harsh environments.

The palette tends to be rugged and earthy in tone, but it can pull out the playful colors of native textiles, desert sunrises, or even the bright saturation of the Texas flag. Southwest style can bleed over into a more modern tilt when it is combined with dark accents and the geometric elements are emphasized. It can also lean boho because of its reliance on textiles and natural materials. Or it can lean minimalist with neutral tones and a reliance on simple geometric shapes. This makes it an adaptable style which can be easily individualized, depending on the design emphasis.

Southwest Style for You

Alpaca blankets from Los Andes align well with Southwest decor style for several reasons. The colors align with the natural colors of this style and the variety offered at the shop means you’ll find something to fit any palette. Additionally, the patterns of these blankets frequently depict geometric designs popular in Southwestern art and decor. Finally, Los Andes works to bring responsibly-sourced, handcrafted products to consumers. The company’s commitment to sustainability and maintaining relationships with native Chilean artisans mean their products are beautifully made and contribute to a process with longstanding traditions just like the Southwestern decor style! Their pieces include throw blankets, which can unify a space, and southwestern bedding, which can accentuate your style with a big impact.

Los Andes Blankets

One important aspect of Southwestern decor is its ability to tell a story. As you look at various rooms decorated in this style, they pull you in with an element of history—they are full of pieces you look at and wish you knew all the stories they hold. The blankets at the Los Andes shop also carry a story. You can read the journey of Los Andes here, giving you a depth and an added layer of richness to these artisan pieces.

 

Make sure to check out @ursulastrailofturquoise on Instagram and see all the beautiful Southwestern furniture in Casa de Myers!

Southwestern style in decor

Posted on Categories:Berho Bros, LLC, dba Los Andes Shop, Blog, Information Section

Our native print blankets work great in Southwestern style decor.

What are key elements of Southwestern decor style? 

  • Warm colors that reflect the sky and earth, such as terracotta and turquoise, although modern Southwestern decor often prefers the more subdued palette of natural grays, browns, and whites. 

  • Simple wood furniture, often with iron accents. 

  • Leather upholstery.

  • Woven textiles in geometric patterns inspired by Native Americans master weavers.

  • Pottery in earth tones.

How is it possible that blankets made in Ecuador work so well in a decor style representing the southwestern United States?

Ecuador and much of the United States Southwest were both colonized by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  Because one country, government and church ruled over a vast area, there are many commonalities across the whole former Spanish empire, including language, city layout, and construction styles. 

For example, from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Santiago, Chile, the principal town plaza has a cathedral along one side, and a government building called the cabildo along another.  Streets are laid out in a grid, and the closer the building to the main plaza, the greater importance it had socially and economically.

Like the U.S. Southwest, there were many native groups in what is now Ecuador. The people who make our blankets, called Otavaleños, had been infringed on by the larger, more powerful Incas just prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, who forced them to create woolen and cotton cloth that was sent throughout much of South America.

When the Otavaleños gained their freedom, they continued using these skills and created their own designs.  Many have geometric patterns and incorporate native symbols.  While not exactly the same as the famous Navajo designs, there are many similarities, especially to the casual observer.

To learn more about Southwestern interior decor, check out these pages:

A Beautiful Mess

The Spruce

To learn more about the native crafters that make our products, click here.

 

 

Textile creation in Ecuador

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Early colonial weaving
Early colonial weaving

Our handicrafts are not only beautiful and unusual, but they also tell a story of success for the people of Otavalo. (Debbie cannot resist explaining this because, after all, she has a degree in Latin American History. 🙂 )

The Spaniards forced many native Ecuadorians to work in “obrajes”, a colonial version of a textiles sweatshop. According to historians,  they were paid the equivalent of $5 per month, were whipped frequently and suffered other inhumane treatment. The wool and cotton fabric they produced was used by Spaniards all over their empire for hundreds of years.

After Independence from Spain, the Ecuadorian people were able to use the skills they had acquired in this industry for their own benefit. They now own all the means of production.  Some continue to carry on traditional methods, such as “backstrap weaving.”

traditional loom
traditional loom – hammock

Others have modernized and use computerized looms.

When you purchase an item from Los Andes Shop, you are supporting the small business textile artisans of Otavalo – we buy from them directly, and have been working with several for over 15 years.

Debbie & don Jose, ca. 2011
Debbie & don Jose, ca. 2011

 

 

Quality of service

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Of course we are proud to bring you these beautiful products made by native artisans – but just as important to us is our relationship with you – our customers!

Whether you order online or visit us in an outdoor market or pop-up event, we value you, and LOVE to get to know you – to learn about you and your interests.  Talking with you is what keeps us going!

Many customers have taken time to post reviews or even to call us with positive comments about the high quality personal service they have received, so we think we do a pretty good job in this area, but if you disagree, please let us know!  There is always room for improvement!

Design

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Patterns and traditional colors from the área. Hand knitted crafts keep the original designs and the colors that made them famous, also incorporating new patterns and color combinations, without abandoning the traditional heart of the town of Otavalo.