Exploring Mexico City's creative landscape ahead of its reign as World Design Capital

A new exhibition
A new exhibition at Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura – curated by Mario Ballesteros – celebrates Mexico City's contemporary design landscape.
(Image credit: Pia Riverola)

Mexico City’s design heritage may have its roots in handicrafts and folk art, but it's a preconception that it is confidently transcending as the city moves full steam ahead to its status as the 2018 World Design Capital.

To honour the occasion, curator Mario Ballesteros is exploring Mexico City's past, present and future in a trio of exhibitions to be hosted over the next two years at gallery Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura. Kicking off with the present, the first installation embraces three themes that make up the city’s design identity: Informal Inventors, New Craftsmanship and Beyond Function.

A delightful retro aesthetic emerges in Informal Inventors, including recycled cameras and jackets that create sound through body movements. These designers are described as ‘techno-pirates and aesthetic shakers’ – creating works pulled together with a 'street design' approach to resources. The eclectic array has been laid out on a theatrical bed of shredded plastic by designers PALMA, scattered across the light-filled space.

blown glass vessels

Pop-hued blown glass vessels by Diego Vides Borrell in the Beyond Function section

(Image credit: press)

The next section celebrates dynamic artisans and native techniques by way of Juan José Nemer and Mauricio Álvarez's organic lamps – made from wooden chocolate blending mills – and Ricardo Casas’ chair and ottoman for Notwaste, crafted from recycled OSB panelling and rubber weaving.

Of the plethora of abstract forms, the most contemporary designs are found in the final offering. Shapes are experimental and materials futuristic, with a mix of marble, pine and brass seen in studio Mob’s ‘Porin’ table and a coat hanger that nods to Japanese ideas of harmony and grace, and pop-hued blown glass vessels by Diego Vides Borrell.

Set out as a ‘landscape of both familiar and strange objects’, the exhibition is a true re-discovery of the city's tantalising creative talents.

The exhibition

Divided into three categories, the exhibition is a breakdown of the city's design DNA, via themes of ‘Informal Inventors’, 'New Craftsman' and 'Beyond Function'.

(Image credit: Luis Young)

Informal Inventors

The products in ‘Informal Inventors’ have been laid out on shredded plastic by designers PALMA, scattered across the light-filled space.

(Image credit: Luis Young)

lamp for Squad Design Gallery in Beirut

Left: a custom mirror designed by Lagos del Mundo. Right: Mexico City-based Francisco Torres and Rosa Hanhausen designed their modular 'Mesh' lamp for Squad Design Gallery in Beirut, Lebanon.

(Image credit: Pia Riverola)

New Craftsmanship

While the ‘Informal Inventors' section explores technology, and 'New Craftsmanship' artisanal work, the 'Beyond Function' products experiment with shape and materials.

(Image credit: Luis Young)


’MXCD01 Mexico Design City – Present’ is on view until 24 November. For more information, visit the Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura website


Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura
Calle General Francisco Ramírez 4
Miguel Hidalgo
Ampliación Daniel Garza
11840 Mexico City


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.