This article was originally published in Hand/Eye magazine, 22 March 2018
Mexico is emerging as an exciting place for home-grown design. Mexico City was declared World Design Capital in 2018 and events are planned throughout the year to highlight the country’s design sector. As consumers globally become more interested in handcrafted products, a new generation of Mexican designers is looking to the country’s indigenous and mestizo cultural traditions and craft-based skills for inspiration. In collaboration with artisans from throughout the country they are reinvigorating old traditions to create products with a contemporary, modern aesthetic that are also distinctly Mexican.
I recently visited Caravana Americana, a twice-yearly event showcasing design from Latin America, with a focus on Mexico, which took place in Mexico City in March. It presented an exciting line-up of designers, nearly all of whom are committed to supporting artisans in their home countries. There were some well-established brands such as Onora, which produces a luxurious range of textiles, homewares and accessories in collaboration with craftspeople from across Mexico, and El Camino de los Altos, a Chiapas-based organization comprised of 130 weavers from 10 indigenous communities, which makes a sophisticated range of home textiles. Both Onora and El Camino de los Altos create distinctive designs that are thoroughly rooted in traditional practices and motifs. Also featured at Caravana Americana were younger, emerging designers such as Amor & Rosas, which produces a line of clothing with hand-embroidered embellishments and M.A. (pictured above), which makes tapestries and ceramics in Oaxaca with playful designs and rich colors, among many others.
I stayed at a new hotel in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhoood that reflects this new spirit of modern Mexican design. Hotel Nuevo Leon is fitted out by Lagos del Mundo, with handmade rugs, baskets, prints and pottery. I spent a few extra days exploring Mexico City and meeting other designers, including Phigmento and BiYuu, both of whom work with weavers in Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca to make rugs with modern, geometric designs that still retain a Mexican design sensibility. I also met a brand called Anudando, which works with recycled plastic bags to create a range of hand-woven and crocheted baskets and textiles, and Fabrica Social, which updates the traditional Mexican huipile to suit contemporary tastes.
This fall, I'm excited to lead a tour to Mexico City and Oaxaca to explore traditional and present-day textiles and design. Our guide, Ana Paula Fuentes, was the founding director of the Textile Museum in Oaxaca and she is deeply immersed in the design/artisan sector in Mexico.