“As a Mexican designer, it is difficult not to be interested in traditional crafts.”
Ana Elena Mallet & Pilar Obeso
Curators of the Mexican Collection
Mexico is a country of diverse, ancient traditions with a storied cultural past to say the very least. With such a strong and longstanding cultural heritage and focus on artisanal, handmade techniques, honoring these traditions without being repetitive; still pushing a contemporary aesthetic without losing this connection is a very thin line to walk, yet somehow these designers deliver it all. In a world of globalization at risk of nurturing a growing monoculture rather than celebrating what makes each of us unique and different, maintaining these distinct, authentic and local cultural voices becomes ever more important.
Adorno is proud to present the Mexican Collection, curated by Ana Elena Mallet and Pilar Obeso to be exhibited this year at Crossovers: 2019 during London Design Fair. A collection of 8 designers and studios rescuing time-honored traditional craft techniques, and materials for the world of contemporary design, solidifying and reaffirming their country’s distinct and compelling cultural voice.
Designers and studios in this collection represent a range of collaborative initiatives across Mexico’s design community including Tributo, Piedrafuego, Oscar Hagerman, Popdots, Ayres, Rituales, Estudio Pomelo, and Perla Valtierra
The Mexican Collection
What are the main themes presented in this collection?
Hancdcrafted and natural materials.
Give us three words that define the current design scene in Mexico.
Natural materials, handmade and heritage.
What do you want viewers who may be unfamiliar with design in Mexico to take away or learn about Mexican design after seeing this collection?
Mexican design is all about collaborative practices. Most of the pieces presented in this collection came to life because of the relationship between designers and artisans, and/or between designers. At the same time, we are witnessing the birth of a new generation of craftswomen and craftsmen, those who are doing both… generating ideas and turning them into real objects with their own hands. Whether they come from a design background or a craftsmanship background, that doesn’t matter, they want to be capable of being a grand creator.
What immediately stands out in the pieces you have selected is a great sense of understanding for traditional craft, how does your collection balance this respect for tradition, while bringing these aesthetics and ideas into the contemporary world of design?
As a Mexican designer, it is difficult not to be interested in traditional crafts. We have 32 states and most of them feature a heap of original techniques and local materials… of course, we are eager to experiment with as many as we possibly can! In different ways, we were raised learning about craftsmanship and as professionals of this field, it is our responsibility to honor and preserved Mexican heritage, not by replicating, but by creating one-of-a-kind pieces capable of continuing immortalizing our traditions.
Mexico has an incredibly rich and diverse natural landscape, producing a vast wealth of natural resources and materials, how has this influenced the designers in your collection?
The natural resources, with which the designers work, more than an influence mean a challenge for sustainable preservation. We are being part of the rescue of ancestral materials and its re-appreciation, but also in the rethinking of how natural resources should be used and extracted. We are responsible not only for presenting them into the world but also for its conservation.
Connections to World Design
What does this collection say about the state of contemporary design internationally?
Contemporary design is down to earth. Traditional crafts, ancestral techniques, and local resources are being guarded by coexisting in innovative ways.
What is exciting about having this collection displayed together with other top design scenes from around the world?
There will be no better response to the last question (about the state of contemporary design) than having all these collections coexisting in the same space. That is pretty exciting!
Curated by Ana Elena Mallet and Pilar Obeso
Ana Elena Mallet
Ana Elena Mallet is a seasoned and prominent voice of design in Mexico, she completed her education at Universidad Iberoamericana and UNAM both in Mexico City. Her Exhibitions include: Moderno: Design for the home. Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela 1945-1970 at the America’s Society in New York ( 2015) ; Inventando un México Moderno: el diseño de Clara Porset, Museo Franz Mayer, Mexico City (2006); El arte de la indumentaria y la moda México 1930-2016, Fomento Cultural Banamex, Mexico City. She has worked as a curator at the Museo Soumaya (1996-1999) and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (1999-2001), as Programming Deputy Director at the Museo Rufino Tamayo (2001-2002), and as Chief Curator at Museo del Objeto (2010-2011). Her writing has been featured in a number of publications including, Chilango, Harper’s Bazaar in Spanish, Open,Luna Córnea, Art Nexus, Código 06140 and La Tempestad.
“Pilar and I are very interested in the exchanges between craft men and designers. We believe that is one of the most strong bases of Mexican Contemporay Design. We have selected designers working with either rural or urban craft communities that are shaping a new way to approach everyday objects. I am very interested in the cross-pollination between Design and Folk Art as well as Mexican craftwork and its tradition in the country. I have dedicated my career to build awareness around Design in Mexico and its implications as a cultural discipline.I am very interested in the continuous exchanges between the craft community and the designers. Aware of Mexican traditions and the rich history of Art in the country. Design is my primary interest as a curator. As a designer, I believe in the importance of context, process, functionality, prototyping and aesthetics and how through exhibitions or platforms such as Adorno we can present all these “behind the scenes” that build a final product.”
Shortly after receiving her BFA in Fashion and Textile Design at Mexico City’s CENTRO de Diseño Cine y Televisión in 2009, Pilar Obeso launched a successful design career. In 2012, she co-founded TALLER NU, a socially conscious studio that focuses on ethical production methods, quality materials, and fine craftsmanship. Now CEO of TALLER NU, Obeso’s work has been displayed outside of her studio practice in multiple exhibitions across Mexico, including Design and Identity at Museo Franz Mayer in 2016, Contemporary Design in 2014, and Hilos y Entramados from 2016-2017.
“I describe my curatorial style as a never stop learning process full of curiosity. I like the idea of giving visibility to amazing designers and their creative process. I also believe in the importance of learning and revisiting the past and presenting the trends that are shaping the near future.”
What is your current favorite piece of design you have encountered and why?
Totomoxtle by Fernando Laposse is an amazing veneer made with husks of heirloom Mexican corn. It is not only insanely beautiful but also innovative, sensible and a tough job to preserve the varieties of Mexican corn and the communities that plant and harvest it.