José Ernesto Aguilera Reina is living a dream ever since he created the project ‘Humidores Habana´ (Havana Humidors), which has allowed him to take his work to more than 30 countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Self-made goldsmith, he was captivated by the beauty of wood. This enchantment motivated him to work with wood, fusing it with metals, stone and bone, among other materials and thereby creating original humidors that stand out with exquisite detail and elegance.
Cases to preserve Havana cigars that show talent, skill and functionality, that is our principal objective”, says the artist to Cubaplus. “The secret of Humidores Habana is the variety of raw materials that we use”, he says, pointing out that his stamp consists of embossed metals for embellishment and unique combinations of different types of woods, both virgin and recycled.
Another distinguishing element is the use of marquetry which, Aguilera Reina points out, “gives the pieces a special touch that, in addition to its practical character, tells stories and reveals the myths that exist behind a Havana cigar”.
Member of the Craftsmen Artists Association of Cuba, José began his relation with Havana cigars S.A. upon having made a case for Punch Cigars in 2005. His creations are now an integral part of the traditional auction that the company organizes, and whose collection is dedicated to public health in Cuba.
Winner of innumerable awards, Aguilera Reina employs a group of 25 people, the majority promising young and talented workers trained at Humidores Habana.
“Many boys have approached me with artistic worries and little knowledge, but with the desire to work and succeed they have become an essential part of the project,” affirms the craftsman.
“Together we make annually about 350 replicas of ancient humidors to sell internationally in the Casas del Habano (Houses of the Havana Cigar), as well as exclusive pieces and other orders. The main thing is to continue to create,” he highlights.
In addition to the Punch collection that integrates three humidors, José fully appreciates that of “King Goblin” as well as the return of the Count of Montecristo, a humidor displaying a ship decoratedwith marquetry and mounted on wheels, with a bronze and silver figure head.
Aguilera Reina has realized a large number of unique pieces in his career, some of which stand out, like of which stand out Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), La Espiga (The Spike) and El Exterminador (Terminator), the last inspired by the movie starring American actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He has also made limited editions such as “The Indian and his horn of plenty”, ‘The Cowboy’s Corral´ and the two series “Tobacco growing Farmers” and “Tobacco Curing Houses”. Others are currently treasured by outstanding personalities of the national culture such as musicians Silvio Rodríguez, Carlos Varela and Leo Brower.
“We do not stop creating, because working is a constant,” he reiterates as he shares details of the ‘Treasures of Cuba´ project, which gives homage to everyday people, the culture and Cuban identity. The series is composed of 10 pieces that protagonize, among others, a handy-man, a street vendor of food and a security officer. “They are admirable persons that we can find in any neighbourhood or city in Cuba, people who reinvent themselves daily and who have realized the importance of the work they do and are happy,” he says.
For Aguilera Reina this series is a debt with the people. He would like to help the municipality of Havana with different programs, or set up a school workshop to bring art closer to any one that has the vocation. “Humidores Habana was born in the basement of the building where I live and grew thanks to the collaboration, patience and fondness of my neighbors. I dream of giving back to society everything it gave me, and wish to one day turn this dream into reality”