While the recent relationship between America and Mexico has vacillated between fraught and acrid, the design community has regularly stepped into the fray to highlight injustice and celebrate the common humanity between nations.
Now, Mexico's biggest design event, the 12th annual Design Week Mexico (DWM), is making a stand for cross-border understanding. This year's edition features the United States as the national guest of honor. It also marks the first time that DWM has included oversight from two international curators and collaborators - WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat.
The Design Within Reach contribution. Photo: Courtesy of Design Within Reach
Several of DWM's major programs have virtual and in-person components to accommodate social distancing. The Design House, for example, is displaying 40 vignettes with live and virtual tours until November 1. This year, architecture, landscape, product, and interior design professionals conjured up COVID-19-era work pods inside Público Coworking in Mexico City's Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood.
The spaces are legibly divided from one another and offer a balm for the quarantined soul, by combining modern and Memphis-inspired forms with soft flooring materials, natural fiber surfaces, and abundant houseplants. Participants in the effort include corporations that are based or widely distributed in the U.S., including Design Within Reach, RH, and Porcelanosa.
A work pod inside Público Coworking. Photo: Jaime Navarro
Inédito, an exhibit of individual high-concept design projects, is also open for viewing in a hybridized format. The theme of this year's sixth edition of the show focuses on ethical proposals to real-world challenges, such as Cosa Buena's hand-washing stations for rural communities. And, just as Cosa Buena comprises creative talent from both Mexico and the United States, Inédito widens DWM's geographic scope. The show includes Dinorah Martínez Schulte's ETH Zurich thesis - which advocates for 3D construction printing in mineral foams as an ecologically low-impact method for solving housing demand - as well as stained-glass and tapestry works by Dutch-born, Mexico City–based Emma Boomkamp. It runs until February 2021.
A piece by Vera Claire of Cosa Buena. Photo: Salvador Cueva
DWM's broadest international representation is yet to come, when Visión y Tradición celebrates artisans in Mexico's Oaxaca de Juárez (which DWM has also designated as this year's state guest of honor). Visión y Tradición is a residency program forging collaborations between artisans and contemporary designers, and participants include Cosa Buena and the Mexican-American brand Onora, as well as Rrres Studio, which is originally from the Dominican Republic.
Hainaut and Pijoulat promise to further diversify both Inédito and Visión y Tradición. The duo has tapped United States–based designers to participate in the former via the digital platform, and they are selecting American designers to collaborate with Oaxaca-based artisans in 2021. The guest curators have also conducted workshops between American and Mexican design schools and are planning a series of online panel discussions to take place next year.
While certain aspects of DWM, such as its Pavilion and Canal Nacional installations, can only be seen firsthand in Mexico City, organizers continue work to digitize the event experience. Design Market is now available as an e-commerce site, and DWM will make further announcements as programs go live.