Bespoke Cuban Holidays for the Discerning Traveller

Thin as a rake, super-creative brain and a dream of a person, Idania de Rio is – as far as I’m concerned – the young designer of the moment here in Havana.
Born in what’s called Havana campo (Havana countryside) – in a tiny, 12-building village on the outskirts of the capital – Ida grew up drawing, copiously and meticulously, and has never stopped. She trained at Havana´s Design School, moving first into graphic design, book illustration and art posters. Then (2007) came a trip to Uruguay. There she spent two “fascinating and formative years” working as an illustrator in a high-profile, commercial advertising company. “I touted my own work around, too”, she explained, “but people said it was too experimental”.

Returning to Havana in 2009, inspired by the more client-centred experience, del Rio moved back into design, broadening her vision, practice and pace to include freelance projects from CD artwork, websites and concert stage visuals/design to satirical posters and restaurant business cards.
Now – in late 2013 – we are about to see her in full bloom. Supported by an artist friend she plans to open a small space in Old Havana; a design shop. It’s the first time we’ll be able to see, and buy, her beautiful, quirky and innovative products – ranging from t-shirts and “message” sofa cushions (expect surreal, gentle satire here) to cotton bags and tea towels: “…things that are reasonably priced and useful”, she insists.

I´ll be writing more about this exciting project as it develops but, in the meantime, if you’re here between September and December you’ll have the chance to catch her. Along with a group of 23 other young, emerging designers, she’ll be exhibiting at Factoría Habana – one of the capital’s most prestigious and experimental galleries. Her particular piece (about insomnia) is a pile of soft, downy, white pillows, each printed with a simple, tongue-in-cheek, image related to securing a good night’s sleep: an opened packet of one of Cuba’s much-used sleeping pills; a pair of crumpled knickers; a sleepy sheep, popping Prozac; a used, tied condom; a Cuban bank statement showing a trillion dollar deposit!
Don’t miss the work, or the artist.

FACTORÍA HABANA: Calle O’Reilly #308, esq. Calle Habana, Old Havana. Open: 9.30am-5pm (Mon-Sat). Tel: “+537 863-6690/866-9488. From September 20th for 3 months.

Sue Herrod


If you are in town to catch Idania de Rio, be sure to take one of our art tours to learn about Cuba’s has a rich artistic tradition and explore art from young, inspired artists.

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