Smoking a Cuban cigar is a real ritual. Many factors have bearing on this enjoyment, with its mystical, sensual aura. One of the most important is the case that holds the cigar and preserves its unmistakeable aroma. Cuba makes one of the best cigars in the world, and it is also home to a tradition of making the most exclusive and elegant humidors.
These unique pieces of furniture, designed to store cigars and prevent their disintegration and drying, combine art with a utilitarian purpose. These splendid containers are designed by our artists, who utilize the qualities of Cuban precious woods, especially cedar, to keep Habanos safe from the vicissitudes of nature. Many artists are involved in creating humidors.
OnCuba visited the workshops of three prestigious artists whose work has been featured in the auctions that have been part of the Habano Festival for years. They explain that humidors not only protect our cigars, but also preserve and safeguard a tradition that is part of Cuban history and culture.
Raúl Valladares is one of the most prestigious Cuban contemporary sculptors and jewelry makers. This artist only makes humidors for very special occasions, because he feels passionately about the world of Habanos. He is the creator of the Habano Man Prize, the coveted “Oscar” of this world, which is awarded every year at the festival.
These silver sculptures more than 30 centimeters high, are made by hand without any mold whatsoever. They are unique, built with ancient jewelry-making techniques. He is the creator of the humidors for Cohíba, the emblematic brand that combines so many things into its bold, futuristic style; these cigar temples he has created go far beyond the ordinary: they are exotic, elegant, imaginative and transgressive.
With their large-scale, daring designs, women’s sensual high heels have become a source of inspiration for the humidors of Valladares. For him, they symbolize the sophistication and elegance of the captivating universe of Cuban cigars. His paradisiacal arsenal of fantastic and unusual metal marvels are then fused with the cedar as a demonstration of the best refuge and art for Habanos.
The artist José Ernesto Aguilera, who heads Humidores Habana, leaves in every one of his pieces an expression of his passion for metal and wood and his pride in the nation’s cigars. A case for the Punch brand opened the doors for him to the Habano Festival auction, and for several years, he has presented successfully at this event. Faithful to the aesthetics that identify them, with a meticulous style and euphuistic fabrication, Humidores Habana instills into every piece a diversity of ancient techniques, such as marquetry, jewelry making, and cabinetmaking.
From the most experimental to the most traditional, every one of his pieces boasts a bold design and creativity. Both the serialized humidors that come in limited editions and the more artistic ones—such as exact replicas of emblematic buildings like the Bacardí—are complex and exceptional. Since 2006, they have fulfilled the Réplicas Antiguas contracts for Habanos and obtained 30-some awards, both in Cuba and abroad.
His exclusive humidors have been acquired by important figures in the world of tobacco. Uninterruptedly since 2005, they have represented the emblematic Cohíba brand at the auction. For 2016, they will have the honor of representing the brand for its 50th anniversary. More than a container for cigars, each one of these humidors tells the story of their creator, preserving and chasing dreams.
Moisés González is a self-taught artist who moves with equal skill in pictorial creation, sculpture and the fashioning of humidors. He has been auctioning his work at the Habano Festival for 15 years. His greatest objective: to create a masterwork that has as much to say to lovers of the so-called fine arts to Habanos collectors, because the two publics have points of contact.
Curving lines, movement and a rupture with the rigidness of square boxes characterize his work. He offers humidors that are like installations—complex and exclusive, fusing an assembly of parts, inlay, relief, and carvings with traditional carpentry, and using a wide chromatic range of woods that combine traditional designs with a surreal influence. His passion consists of breaking down preconceptions and barriers to creativity.