In a narrow passageway in Villa Crespo, a hidden workshop is tucked away. It’s one of those places that you’d walk straight past unless you knew to look for it. But the two rooms accommodate the beautifully intricate jewelry of Inés Bonadeo.
One room displays her finished pieces and the other is where the magic happens. The primary materials, welders and tools hanging from the busy workshop walls invite visitors to imagine the process the pieces go through to reach their final, nature-based designs.
“Nature always finds a way to sneak in,” Bonadeo says, standing in front of the wooden cabinet filled with her delicate designs where bronze, silver and gold has been shaped into leafy, elegant pieces.
Bonadeo is one of the boutique creators whose workshop you can visit with Shop Hop Buenos Aires. Founded in 2010 by British-born Sophie Lloyd, the company offers visitors tours of the capital’s artisanal design scene. Whether it’s knitwear made from baby Andean llama wool, local leather, or jewelry designs inspired by Argentine imagery, Shop Hop aims to help makers of beautiful objects find an audience around the world.
In the workshop, Shop Hop director Mani Boucher chats sagely to Bonadeo about the importance of knowing the story behind the design. It gives the buyer a more meaningful connection to what they’re purchasing, Boucher says.
Boucher joined Shop Hop in 2019, when her now-business partner, Sophie, moved to Portugal. She told the Herald that she has a passion for sharing the stories and products of Argentine designers because they have the “capacity and the creativity to do many things with just a few resources.”
The country’s unpredictable economic and social circumstances, she said, make Argentines “more creative people, because in our daily lives we need to solve things, so that makes our brains work in unexpected ways.”
Shop Hop tailors its tours to visitors’ interests — options include visiting sustainable designers who seek out and reuse materials, turning them into items to be treasured. One of her designers even creates jewelry from recycled milk packaging.
Boucher has ample experience in the fashion industry, working for both Argentine and international brands. She explained that the Argentine design scene is smaller than in large European cities, so she knows the close-knit community well.
AMULETT is a leather goods (marroquinerías) design business based in an old factory in Villa Crespo that has been turned into a modern workspace with high ceilings and open-plan rooms. Here, visitors learn about the process and ideas behind the designs and speak with their creators.
The designers produce clothing, too: a short walk away, in Palermo, Animaná works with natural fibers produced by over 7,500 Andean artisans. Their products include scarves, blankets, and jumpers made with yarns including alpaca, llama and baby llama, coloured using natural dyes such as fruits.
The tours keep Boucher busy — but to her, showing off Argentine talent is a passion.
“The world needs to know about these people,” she said.