• Rachele Viard

Martine Bourjolly-Cantave, an Interior and Jewelry Designer Who Should Be on Your Radar

Martine Bourjolly-Cantave, is a multi-talented designer who has always pushed the envelope. She is an interior designer with an eclectic portfolio as well as a jewelry and accessory designer known for creating statement pieces. The creative force behind Nomades Héritage has cultivated a dynamic career in the arts and interior design spanning close to 23 years.

Photo credit: Michael Celestin

The Haitian designer, said she became fascinated with textures and colors at a very young age and she was fortunate that her parents encouraged her creative instincts. “My parents always encouraged me. I took drawing lessons and most of the summer camps I attended centered on arts and crafts. I had everything I needed to draw, paint, dye, do macramé, and embroider. Often, they would take me to their friends’ studios, and I would get questions like “Do you see why they are different?” Or they would point out why they were the best at what they’re doing.” Cantave explained.

Though she developed an interest early on in the arts, she noted that as a child she first wanted to be a nurse, then later she decided to become a psychologist to help others. Though ultimately, Cantave went on to study interior design at the Academy of Fashion and Design in Montreal, Canada. “There I discovered design, a concept I was not familiar with. To conceive a space or something that meets the need of the client and is in perfect harmony with its surrounding can be fulfilling…I can say I have a thing for it,” Cantave shared.

Her attention to detail, her ability to realize her client’s vision, her expertise and designer’s eye has enabled Cantave to brand herself in the industry. Cantave explained her designing process as follows: “I dream about it, not forgetting a single detail. In my dream I’m limitless. Then when I wake up, I let the client gently pull me back to reality.” Some of the projects she’s realized are ABAKO boutique, HYPE shoe store and TAFIA liquor store as well as others though some places are no longer in existence or have since been remolded. She has also naturally worked privately with clients designing their homes.

I always wondered why the name Nomades Héritage, Cantave explained “I always felt connected to the nomadic people, because of their culture, their jewelry and the heritage they’ve carried from all the different places they’ve been through along their journey, especially the desert tribes. The beads, adornments and artifacts that I use in my jewelry come from all over the world, and feel like nomads to me, telling me their stories and getting ready for more endless encounters. I could say the same for the craft pieces that I design. A single piece of craft can be made in different studios using different techniques and materials. And it’s also the same process I use when designing spaces. It’s a well balanced mix of textures, colors and stories that brings the space to life.”

Cantave is always focused on originality and uniqueness. She launched her jewelry line in 2007, her approach to creating her pieces is much like her approach to reimaging or designing a space, “I make sure that I choose pieces that interpret my creativity through the assembly. The final product has to look as much as possible like something I’ve never seen before, either by its structure or a unique mix of materials” she shared. And her pieces are exactly that expertly crafted, unique and striking and can be worn for just about any occasion.

However what Cantave is most proud of is Ayitizana. It is a vehicle which she uses to mentor and guide artisans looking to hone their skills. “To work with artisans is to multiply the ways to express my creativity. Like sharing my updated version of what captivated me when I was a child. But to mentor them, that is the real deal. To help and assist them in reaching standards that will open markets for them so they can become financially stable and convince them that Haitian craft can be a profitable source of income,” she said.

Photo credit: Maxence Bradley

More than showcasing her own work, and taking center spotlight it’s evident it’s more important to Cantave that she promotes and uplifts the people she works with, and imparts her experience to those without the access and opportunities that she has been afforded.


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