Over nearly a decade, Mexico City’s design week has found its stride alongside the city’s contemporary design scene, most visibly with an installation and exhibitions at Museo Tamayo, the striking brutalist edifice by architect Teodoro González de León. But any fair is only as strong as the community it represents, and the latest iteration of Design Week Mexico (which ran 11–15 October, postponed after two fatal earthquakes last month) demonstrates that showcases create their own purpose when they transcend mere reflection and become, instead, part of the edifice itself.
By pairing younger talents with institutional support, for example, or talented artisans with opportunities beyond tourism, the festival is creating a vision of Latin America’s, and its own, design future. ‘Design matters – a conscious design matters – mainly to prevent but also to rebuild. Design can provide tools and solutions for the reconstruction, but also design can heal,’ says the Mexican designer Hector Esrawe, who created an outdoor pavilion for the fair inspired by chef Elena Reygadas, of the city’s acclaimed restaurant Rosetta. The subtle gathering space is an extension of the designer’s longstanding interest in work that is born of dialogue and in turn provokes it.
Other projects commissioned for the fair, including an elliptical concrete-and-wood structure by Mexico City-based firm Materia, were underway when the most recent earthquake struck, shifting the meaning of work that 'dematerialises' space. Indeed, reconstruction efforts post-disaster, the fair’s organisers say, must address both the perceptual and the physical. ‘One of the most important reflections of our present is how we reinvent our cities immersed in a continuous state of growth: how we choose to change, from a design perspective, rethinking urban growth and resilience,’ says Emilio Cabrero, director of Design Week.
Participating in Design Week, ‘showed us to respectfully get our past and our present closer together’, say Lucia Soto and Andrea Flores of Comité de Proyectos, which participated in two parts of the fair: Inédito and Visión & Tradición, which connected Mexican and Swiss industrial designers to artisans. As Andrea Cesarman, a co-founder of Design Week Mexico and of the Mexico City-based architecture firm C Cúbica, says, ‘We want to change the meaning of what it means to say, “Made in Mexico”.’