El Universo: The Thirdling culture lands in the MAAC

Written by Mishell Sánchez. Photos by José Beltrán/

Posted by eluniverso.com on February 24, 2022. Link.

In room 6 of the Anthropological and Contemporary Art Museum (MAAC) a new culture lands with a concept of social balance, wisdom and justice. This is the first edition of Thirdlings, a collection of clay figures inspired by the ancient Valdivian culture, designed by Nuno Acosta and manufactured by the craftsman Juan Orrala.

Nuno Acosta is a publicist and graphic designer, through his brand Picaia he presents ‘Thirdlings’. Photo: José Beltrán Photo: El Universo

Acosta explains that it is a proposal that combines new designs with ancient techniques; For this reason, each one of the pieces refers to the clay cultures of 4,000 years ago, while their forms could be assimilated to beings with superior intelligence.

Nuno Acosta together with the craftsman Juan Orrala during the inauguration of Thirdlings last Thursday.

This first edition of Thirdlings was launched under the designation of First in its kind. The designer, who through this proposal also ventures into fiction, describes that these figures come from a civilization recently discovered by the sea, in which each character has an important role that contributes to leadership, communication and production. “The story, which is fiction, we are telling it as an archaeological find, in which you find some figures on the seashore (province of Santa Elena), and we discover that, four thousand years ago, these superior intelligences designed a society of creators and producers”, describes Acosta.

This is how, among the figures, one finds La Linker, which is the one that builds bridges between creators and producers, with its little antennas. There is also another called The Seer, who has three eyes: with one he looks at the past, so as not to make the same mistakes; with the second he looks at the present, to understand the situation and participate in each collective activity; and with the third eye he looks into the future, taking charge of imagining and dreaming. The third figure is The Bringer and the heir, who is seen as a leader because of her ability to care for her son and the commune.

Nuno Acosta with his Thirdlings in the Maac. Photo: José Beltrán Photo: El Universo

In total there are eight figures revealed. Its purpose is to reveal 47 figures in the coming years. The revealed figures include Valdivian patterns proposed by the artisan Orrala.

Their name of Thirdlings is due to the fact that these beings conquered this third planet, Earth (the third planet near the Sun). In addition, he plays a bit with the idea of an Ecuador in the process of development, but with an incredible richness in its culture and crafts.

Nuno Acosta with the craftsman Juan Orrala in his workshop in Valdivia, Santa Elena. Orrala is known for his work in ceramics. Photo: Courtesy

He says that with his proposal he seeks to encourage new designers to work with artisans. “Beyond the digital or virtual world, know that there are very talented people, here around the corner or in one of our towns, in which something can be created,” he says and maintains that what artisans need Ecuadorians is marketing.

He says that he plans to contact artisans from some regions of the country to create native third-farmers. “Basically, we want to connect creators with producers. I am working with a Valdivia artisan. So, I’m exploring crafts. My plan is to reach various places in Ecuador with various styles of crafts, new designs”, he says.

Fair Trade

Acosta defines this business model as fair trade, since the craftsman becomes a partner of him and of Picaia (a brand founded with his wife to package innovation in crafts), for which he receives payment for his work and royalties for the sale of each piece.

Each figure is valued at $99.00 and the purchase can be made through the page es.picaia.com from anywhere in the world. “We’re going to send some to London, New York,” he says.

“We have realized that in the world there is an increasingly large market of people who are willing to acquire a collectible piece of contemporary art, that has fair trade, that has responsibility, that is a limited edition,” he says about the edition, of which only one hundred figures per model will be manufactured.

He maintains that with its launch in a museum they want to promote culture, through a brand that promotes creative and cultural responsibility. “We’re going to broaden the culture… What sets us apart is our local culture,” he says.


The exhibition brings together 17 figures, including original prototypes, finished ones, definitive figures and new character prototypes, including a snake, a man with a toucan helmet and a three-eyed builder.

Thirdlings is exhibited until March in the museum, located in Malecón and Loja. Admission is free, between Tuesday and Saturday, from 09:00 to 17:00. (I)