8.11.2021 - 12.11.2021 Design, Events, Visual Arts

Black Gold: Design project in the Amazon rainforest at Austin Design Week

November 8-12, 2021, Austin, TX

RSVP: Nov 11 at 9-10 AM CT Film screening, lecture, and Q&A

Black Gold project website.

Polish Cultural Institute New York in partnership with The Spirit of Poland is pleased to present an exhibition „Black Gold”, a case study of a project carried out in the Amazon rainforest. Polish designers joined forces with the local community of acai berry pickers in Brazil to create a system of infrastructure and devices for improving the safety of the traditional collection method of the fruit, which grows at great heights on quite fragile palm trees, as well as for improvement of the Amazon forests from damage during this process. Acai berries are conquering new markets, with the US, EU and Asia being the leading importers of this Amazonian „black gold”.

The online exhibition will complement the film and the talk with designers. The short film which will be presented at ADW depicts the stages of the project conducted in the Brazilian state of Para, and the results of the collaboration with the local community members – a set of custom equipment for açaí berry pickers, called Kit dos Peconheiros.

The designers’ talk and workshop will explain more about the approach applied in this project and the challenges encountered.

The project evokes important questions about the role of designers in a rapidly changing world and the responsibility to positively affect the future.

Photo by Chico Kfouri 


The result of the project is a set of safety equipment for the açaí berry pickers in the Amazon rainforest, called KIT dos Peconheiros.

For many years açaí was little known outside of the Amazon. Yet, since the 90s it has made its way from remote riverside communities to cities all over the world. 95% of global açaí comes from the Amazonian state of Pará in Brazil. Its production is based mainly on extractives. This increasing demand for açaí berries and the lack of protection result in several accidents.


The R&D and testing team, consisting of designers and peconheiros, worked in different locations in Pará to develop solutions to prevent injuries and make açaí collection safer and more comfortable.

All the ideas are the results of many trials and tests, run by the team of professional peconheiros. Only they know the risks of the job, which demands excellent physical form and advanced climbing techniques. The focus was to improve safety, while maintaining the natural character of the work: climbing the fragile palm trees, cutting off the fruit bunches, sliding down with the harvested fruit on slippery trees, in the changing conditions of the rainforest. The team tested different designs, to ensure that the kit can be adapted to individual needs. Local experience and tradition was combined with a professional design approach. The selected solutions were further developed by design team, to meet standards of safety and endurance. All of the products are sustainable and friendly to the nature of the Amazon rainforest.

What is KIT dos peconheiros?

KIT dos peconheiros is the world’s first solution for peconheiros supporting the safety of açaí collection developed with the local team in the Amazonian state of pará designed and produced in sustainable manner.

The set consists of six products. They are dedicated to improving the comfort and safety of climbing the açaí palm trees.

What is so special about KIT dos peconheiros:

– uniqueness: the only solutions dedicated to peconheiros and developed by peconheiros and designers
– safety: suited to the nature of the job – working at height and under time constraints
– flexibility: adaptable to individual needs and styles of the work
– tradition: based on the traditional character of the work
– sustainability: friendly to the nature of the Amazon rainforest

Photo by Chico Kfouri 

Lead image by Chico Kfouri 

Black Gold is organized by with The Spirit of Poland in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

About Austin Design Week

Founded in 2016, Austin Design Week’s (ADW) mission is to build an inclusive community that is a source of empowerment and inspiration for Austin’s creative problem solvers. Every year, ADW invites designers, organizations, agencies, and companies to host free workshops, studio tours, panels, talks, installations, and interactive events centered around a theme that challenges us to consider the role of design in improving our communities and ourselves. From graphic design to architecture, digital design to fashion, and more, ADW brings together creatives across disciplines and across Austin to share their talents, projects, ideas, and workspaces while inviting in the larger community (in Austin and beyond).

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