The unveiling of a new design company is always exciting business, even more so when it hails from a locale as vibrant as Mexico City. Riding the crest of a growing new wave of Mexican design is Luteca, a contemporary furniture brand that seeks to bridge the nation’s illustrious design legacy with its swiftly evolving present.
Founded by creative director/designer Alexander Andersson, Amanda Price Reant and Sebastian Reant, Luteca’s inaugural collection is comprised of two parts. The first is an assortment of new creations designed by Andersson, who grew up in Sweden but has close ties to Mexico because of his Mexican mother. Andresson’s designs are seamless hybrids of both sides of his background. Minimal, Modernist silhouettes are injected with tenets of Mexican craft, like rustic woven seats and slat backs for chairs.
'I grew up with all this Scandinavian design and I wanted to create a collection in Sweden, but it was so difficult and inflexible in Europe. I wanted to produce furniture like they did in the 1930s and 1940s, like Finn Juhl, Wagner and all those designers,' recalls Andersson, who studied industrial design. 'I had this Hemingway-esque dream of moving to a hot place in Mexico and making furniture. So I went and became a woodworker. It took me five years to learn the craft. It’s an art form and requires so much more than just design.
As Andersson put together his operation, he came across the furniture designs of the pioneering Mexican architect, Pedro Ramirez Vázquez, who granted Andersson first-ever access to his furniture design archive right before his death at age 94. A stunning series of never-before-seen Ramirez Vázquez designs therefore forms the second part of Luteca’s offering. Curated together with Javier Ramirez Campuzano, the icon’s son who continues to run his father’s design studio, Luteca will continue to bring small editions of Vázquez’s hidden creations to life.
'Many of these designs were produced as a prototype or two for Ramirez Vázquez’s house only, or maybe as a bespoke piece for a client. The development of the pieces took almost two years. They are completely handmade and hand polished,' explains Andersson, who sees both sides of the collection blending together. 'There is a common line in the language from the post modernism of Ramirez Vázquez to the back to basics sensibility of my designs. I think they mirror each other very well.'
Luteca is backed by Mexico’s artisanal, handcraft tradition, whose strong suits range from metalwork and glassware to silversmithing and leatherwork. Luteca has developed and adapted production processes, which are not usually made for furniture, to suit their manufacturing needs. Vázquez’s laser cut sheet steel coffee tables, for example, are produced by metal factories and engineers that supply the automobile and aviation industry. Every piece is made in Mexico, with all the handcrafting done in Mexico City. Now that’s what we call a national treasure.