Know the Giants
Behind Casa de los Gigantes
Meet Our Team
At Casa de los Gigantes, we are a family with about one hundred members, all of us passionate about Guatemala’s rich traditions and multicultural heritage, as well as the colorful and hardworking people that make this part of the planet so special. We are business people, artisans, and designers with a common goal of creating stunning handicrafts to share with our customers.
We come from all different parts of Guatemala, and some of us even from outside the country. Some of us are fathers and mothers, while others are young men and women only starting on the road of life. We all share a commitment to spreading our passion for handicrafts through the preservation of old traditions and the innovation of new designs.
Guatemala is our house, our Casa, and our customers, artisans, designers, and employees are the giants, the Gigantes, that make this dream possible.
Casa de los Gigantes is committed to developing crafts through innovation and building long-term, sustainable relationships with our artisans, designers and customers. We do this through our retail store, our export division, and our carpentry shop.
Our mission is to create handmade crafts using earth-friendly materials for today’s world. We believe that our crafts bring warmth and humanity to an increasingly technological and impersonal world, while simultaneously providing our artisans with a dignified way of making a living.
Our vision is a world in which the artisans’ skills are valued and their work is appreciated for its esthetic, cultural and practical values, and in which artisans can live with dignity and be well remunerated.
Casa de los Gigantes has been around since the 1960s when a graphic artist from Chicago visited Antigua and became enchanted by the city, its climate, and its people and cultures. He settled here and developed the business as a way to share the crafts of artisans from the Guatemalan highlands with a wider audience. Casa de los Gigantes became a destination store then.
Twenty-five years later, a Chilean-born crafts enthusiasts also fell in love with Antigua. With the store’s original owner ready to retire, she decided to continue his mission of bringing Guatemala’s tradition of wonderful crafts to the rest of the world.
Under new management since 1995, we have continued our collaboration with groups of artisans all over the country. Through this collaboration, we have expanded the range of our handcrafted products. While we initially worked only with highland pine in our carpentry shop, we now have a complete line of products made from teak from the lowlands of Guatemala. Our natural fiber offerings have grown from straw hats to a line of decorative vases, coasters, hot pads, and baskets made from pine needles. Although we started with only a small selection of textiles initially, we now offer both products made according to traditional weaving techniques and new designs inspired by these techniques.
We have invested in our own carpentry shop, where we were the first organization in Guatemala to work with plantation grown teak. We have been members of AGEXPORT for the last 20 years and won the Best Exporter of the Year Award in 2004. We have participated in the NWCF every year since its inception, as well as the Santa Fe Folk Art Market and the NY Fair.
We have grown to thirteen dedicated staff members here in Antigua, as well as hundreds of employees, artisans, and partners all across Guatemala. Since we were founded, we have developed our export business by collaborating with designers from both Guatemala and the United States, as well as large and small retailers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, under the name of Doña Cristina S.A. Our products are now sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, El Salvador, and Spain as well as Guatemala. We are so excited to continue our journey over the next fifty years.
Casa de los Gigantes takes its name from a seventeenth-century legend about the giants, larger-than-life wooden figurines who are paraded during religious events. According to the legend, during one such procession, an unexpected downpour forced the people carrying the giants to ask the owners of this house, the very same house in which our store is located today, for shelter. The house’s enormous doorways provided an ideal refuge for the giants. That evening, a curious boy peeked through the keyhole and was frightened by what he saw: huge men with swords glistening at their sides, standing poised for battle. The little boy ran through the streets, screaming for help.
Fearing that pirates were holed up in the house, the townspeople sounded the alarm, and all the churches’ bells began pealing. The soldiers arrived, assisted by the neighbors, ready for a fight to the finish. They placed a cannon and fired the first cannonball, demanding surrender. Upon hearing the thunderous explosion of the cannon fire, the owner of the house, Don Cristobal de Alvarenga, appeared with his entourage of servants. Instantly, they were completely surrounded by armed soldiers.
Don Cristobal immediately pulled out a white flag. To convince the soldiers and townspeople of his guests’ identity, he threw open the huge doors. Suspecting a plot, the men fell to the ground, ready to fire. When they saw that the “pirates” were only wooden statues, the soldiers doubled over in laughter. That night, there was much joking among those who had mistaken the giants for pirates. From that time on, this house has been known as: “THE HOUSE OF THE GIANTS”.