Trancoso in the 1970's was still a barter economy filled with close-knit families of fishermen, farmers, and amazingly-skilled craftsmen. The village's isolation spawned a spirit of ingenuity and creativity among natives, especially in working with wood and other organic materials, as well as in the simple art of recycling - very little existed in Trancoso that wasn't used and reused in a harmonious cycle over generations.
The local artisans married their natural instincts for tradition and preservation with a keen sense of beauty, inspiring Wilbert Das in 2008 to begin UXUA with them, a collaboration which continues today, restoring houses, creating furniture, lighting, decor. All one-of-a-kind pieces with a soul. Wilbert has shared knowledge gained over his design career in Italy, while learning priceless lessons in return. Here are some collaborators.
Regis is a builder. In a town of craftsmen who like to specialise in one thing, often with generations of their family doing the same, Regis always enjoyed following the creation of entire homes, top to bottom. He's built several of the most beautiful ones at UXUA, and being an innovator has contributed to some of the most interesting evolutions in environmental design to come out of the project, such as faucets and showers carved from treetrunks and wastewood, and new, beautiful methods for reinforcing traditional building materials so they meet modern engineering standards.
Dati is both a man of the sea and the land. He was born on the beach, and the water is his love. He's fished all his life and created a famed fisherman bar from old boats which has become UXUA Praia Bar. But Dati also learned woodworking skills from his grandfather, and together they built most the bridges crossing the rivers and streams of the area. Dati evolved his carpentry to such refinement that he's one of the best in all Bahia. He recently fulfilled a life-long dream of building a boat single-handedly using recycled materials, with such details as a cabin created of wooden milk and juice crates, aluminium and pressed cardboard.
Jedson has contributed on both absolutely practical as well as totally fanciful aspects of UXUA. He's a locksmith and metal-worker, and has helped restore countless locks on our property (there are literally hundreds of different kinds of locks at UXUA as we recycle them from old farms and casas), but beyond these essential elements of any hotel, he'as also created some not-so-essential details like iron butterflies 'flying' through our garden with tropical flowers growing around them. Jedson is a down-to-earth guy who hates gossip, as he will tell you while gossiping, in true Bahian style.
Seu Zac is the patron saint of fences, that is to say - he makes the best, and everyone recognises when one is his creation. He works by hand with euchalyptus wood he finds in the area. Because he doesn't use power tools, sometimes his neighbors won't even hear him as he repairs a stretch of their fence as a kindness. Beloved by farmers and gardeners and all those who need a little organic seperation, he's 70 years old and still walking the streets carefully to avoid the excess of people in need of his fences and begging him to come build them a work of art.