My 30th birthday was last weekend, and I celebrated in a major way: By visiting Mexico City for Caravana Americana. The design fair, which is put on by LAGO DF, highlights some of the best Latin American creations out there. As a whole, it’s a sea of pottery, jewelry and home goods from Mexican states far and wide.
While each brand’s offerings were absolutely stunning, the greatest part of the event was the insight it provided into the inner workings of Mexico’s design community. For instance, I learned that many of the designers’ pieces are actually the result of cross-country collaborations; a leather maker here, a weaver there. Wherever the experts are, these creatives are seeking them out. And it’s all in an effort to elevate their offerings, honor ancient techniques and hopefully snag some international fanfare.
Unfortunately, getting the world to pay attention has proven to be a monumental challenge. While speaking with one of the fair’s managers, I got an honest glimpse into Mexico’s current design reputation and the stereotypes holding Mexican makers back. She explained how foreigners only associate Latin American design with the colorful blankets, patterned ponchos and woven baskets one finds at the country’s many street markets. These preconceived notions are proving difficult to undo, and oftentimes result in Mexican companies being overlooked when it comes to serious design coverage.
I obviously knew this wasn’t all Mexico had to offer, but it wasn’t until I visited Caravana Americana and saw all of these wonderful makers in one place that it truly sunk in. I was stunned by the depth of talent, subtle colors and quality of craftsmanship. Needless to say, I left wanting every single thing I saw.
Scroll down to check out my favorite pieces from the market, and take a peek at even more great Latin American designs from Caravana Americana in this week’s edition of Best of the Web. Enjoy! —Garrett
Image above: Caravana Americana takes place in Estación Indianilla. Before becoming a cultural center in 2006, the 1880s-era space served as a repair shop and storage facility for Mexico City’s trams.
Image Above: Colectivo 1050 is a non-profit group that works to not only educate the public on the importance of Oaxacan pottery, but to also teach potters new forms and skills to help their businesses thrive. Founder Kythzia Barrera told me a fantastic tale about the little hands you see above. While they look simple in form, the beauties are actually a fantastic teaching tool. In order to make them, a potter must master many tools and techniques. She says that in many ways the successful creation of these signifies a true artisan.
Image Above: Last year, Debra Broberg and Laura Melendrez won a Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Fellowship for their venture Amor & Rosas. The tags on each of their gorgeous garments – which are embellished using traditional Latin American techniques – feature a photo and the signature of the Mexican craftswoman who made it. Their goal is to raise awareness of nearly-extinct Latin American art practices and to support the artisans who’ve perfected them.
Image Above: (Left) Malte Taller uses decals to update classic pewter plates. (Right) Traditionally, these baskets and pouches would be woven using plant-based materials. Onora gives hers a modern twist by using copper wiring instead.
- Geometry’s in Fashion: The color scheme of Inés Bellorez’s latest collection of handbags was inspired by one of my favorite artists, Esther Stewart (whose home you can peek at here). The richly colored designs depict different landscapes and natural elements such as mountains, sunsets and the ocean.
- Hearty Leather That’ll Last: Mr. Fox makes the type of bags you’ll have forever. This classic shape will never go out of style and will only look better with age.
- Pillow Talk: COLORINDIO makes coasters and pillows covered in traditional Latin American weaves and tassels! Lots of tassels.
- Tie Dye Updated: Taller Nu’s bags were one of the market’s top picks. The brand’s most eye-catching piece features a trippy design made from vegetable dye.
- Cyclical Styles: Siblings Army has put a twist on the visor by decking it out in an oxblood hue and caramel leather.
- Modern Mexican Nooks: The metal arc of Christian Vivanco’s Félix chair provides privacy to those using it without totally secluding them.
- Essays: Why Representation In Branding Matters by Paige Ricks, Indigenous Peoples’ Day by Grace, Advice & Etiquette: Handling Offensive Comments + Conversation by Grace
- Interiors: A Bungalow in Memphis, TN for an Artist, a Lawyer & a College Student, A Mississippi Home That Gave New Life to an Old Farmhouse, A Vibrant Rental for Two Creatives in Omaha, NE, A Cottage in Olympia Bursting at the Seams with Love
- Studio Tours: St. Augustine’s YIELD Design Co.
- Before & After: A Kitchen for Two House Flippers Who Put Down Roots, An Essex, England Renovation Focused on Restoration
- Garden: 10 Fall Bulbs To Order Now For a Beautiful Spring