Press: Navajo Design Code Magazine
Nizhoni Ranch Gallery
CODE MAGAZINE contacted us about an article some months ago.
It is exciting to see Europe’s appreciation of Navajo Art and Design. Along with the article on Steve, there was a feature article on Niroki Nakamura, Japanese Designer, and as he says, “I wanted to “clash’ my design philosophy into Navajo Culture.”
True Navajo pieces are serious undertakings, as Steve Getzwiller of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery in Sonoita, Arizona, will tell you. The hand-woven, rugs commissioned by Getzwiller and produced by Southwest American Navajo can take anywhere from between a month to a year or more to complete, with careful consideration given to the sourcing of materials and dyes.
When he was young, Getzwiller sixth generation rancher, traded his childhood collection of rifles and shotguns for his first Navajo rugs. Since then, he’s worked with hundreds of weavers over the past four decades, becoming one of the world’s leading experts and proponents of the living art form prized for its rich history, incomparable quality, and intricate geometric patterns and colors. “I’m a collector first and foremost,” says Getzwiller.
Nizhoni, the name of the home and gallery he shares with his wife Gail, means “beautiful” in Navajo. “We have clients from all over the world.” The centerpiece of Nizhoni’s work is the Navajo Churro Collection, named for the Spanish breed of sheep’s wool Getzwiller reintroduced to Navajo weaving.
“To bring the designs back to wearable art is natural,” says Getzwiller, explaining that the original 17-19th century pieces were prized wearable possessions. A good “wearable blanket” of the time was worth 40 horses. It wasn’t just stylish though, said Getzwiller, “It was woven so fine and tight it could shed water. It could save your life in those times!”
Mystery surrounds Visvim’s Hiroki Nakamura. While the Japanese designers’ work has become synonymous with the idea of new classics, interviews with him often focus on abstract concepts and give little away about the man himself. CODE met up and had a down to earth conversation about his curiosity and looking back in order to see the future.
Hiroki Nakamura wearing Navajo First Phase Chief Blanket
He says, “The Navajo blankets are beautiful, and I realized that the beauty of Navajo craft is unevenness. It’s not perfect, yet somehow, it’s so harmonized, which is something we’ve lost in modern manufacturing. With today’s production and digital world, everything is made flat with digital cameras and computers. It’s kind of like we’re missing a feeling – missing the hands-on feeling” .