‘It’s a blessing to be born Jamaican’
For Dana Baugh, founder of BAUGHaus Design Studios, being Jamaican is nothing short of a blessing.
“[It] is everything. I mean how much of a blessing is it to be born in Jamaica ... on an island like Jamaica [and] to grow up with the types of things that many people [can] only dream about,” the ceramist said.
Baugh expressed that the innate resourcefulness of Jamaicans is an added benefit of being Jamaican, and that her rich Jamaican culture and heritage are always communicated through her artwork, which uses local materials like clay and wood.
Designers at BAUGHaus produce practical, Jamaican handcrafted furniture, lighting, soft goods, and ceramics for the home.
However, the main offerings which are widely adored are their porcelain home goods and custom lighting fixtures which are inspired by the Caribbean and fashioned in a modern design.
In a recent Gleaner interview, Baugh said she first began her business as a part-time venture while working full-time in the field of hospitality retail and as an interior designer.
But in 2016, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become her own boss, devoting all of her time and attention to design full-time.
“I’ve always wanted to create products, I just love things and have been fascinated with the way things are made and the expression of an idea,” she explained.
Six years after starting out with just one product, BAUGHaus now sells over a hundred items both locally and online to customers worldwide, including those in African nations like Kenya.
“I think that we don’t do enough of taking our icons, our culture and turn them into tangible products,” Baugh said.
As such, for Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence, Baugh produced a line of goods seeking to highlight trademark items of Jamaica.
One such item is the Lignum vitae teapot, which was created in honour of the ‘wood of life,’ a vibrant blue flower that is one of Jamaica’s six national symbols.
“Thinking of something as beautiful as the Lignum vitae, which is a national symbol, I wanted to create a product that we could be proud of,” she said.
Baugh continued by making reference to Japan’s iconic Sakura, commonly known as cherry blossoms which come in bloom during springtime (mid-March to late April), attracting tourists and locals with their bright pink beauty as they blanket the concrete sidewalks, park trails, and lush green lawns.
She suggested that manufacturers explore creating Jamaican-native items that are a part of Jamaica’s tradition and use them to convey Jamaica and its beauty, much like the Japanese do with cherry blossoms, which are used to make ornaments and teapots for sale.
Another item that Baugh has sought to memorialise is the traditional Dutch pot, also known as ‘Dutchie’, a staple in the Jamaican culinary experience and found in many households and the kitchens of cookshops.
The pot prepares Jamaican must-have meals like the Jamaican-style curried goat or chicken and various stews, soups, and rice dishes.
Baugh explained that the aim of inventions like the ‘Dutchie’ is to be multifunctional as it can be currently used as serveware, but she also plans to turn the miniature pots into candles for decorative purposes. When the candle is finished, it can be used to store objects, serve food, or eat a meal.
“There are tons of different things and I could go on and on about the different things about our culture but the core of BAUGHaus is to make sure that we take our culture and we create well-made, finely crafted products that express Jamaica,” she said.
Additional items in the Jamaica 60 collection include the ‘Lion of Judah’ shot glasses, Jamaican cocktail patty ornaments and patty plates.
Some notable items are the 12-inch banana leaf platters and breadfruit and sweetsop ornaments.
One of Baugh’s lasting memories of Jamaica is the observation that whenever she travels abroad, non-Jamaicans are fascinated by her country and its people.
She continued that being able to declare that the clothes she wears are made in Jamaica and that others can tell she is Jamaican simply by her conduct gives her a sense of pride.