The Dwell 24: Platalea Studio

The Dwell 24: Platalea Studio

By Dwell
A pair of Mexico City designers imagine bold dinnerware and furnishings inspired by their culture and current social issues.

Platalea Studio’s Lilia Corona and Rodrigo Lobato are lifelong students of the culture and crafts of Mexico. Their bold dinnerware, light fixtures, and furnishings take up traditional materials and techniques while addressing complex themes like colonialism, sexuality, and Mexican identity—"basically how Mexican society is involved with the outside, and how the outside is involved with Mexico," Corona explains.

Rodrigo Lobato and Lilia Corona at their studio in Mexico City.

The pair met while studying design at Universidad Iberoamericana and bonded over a shared love of film, their childhoods living all over Mexico, and a belief that design has the ability to give marginalized people a voice. 

After forming Platalea in 2017, they began partnering with artisans in Mexico City, transgender muxe people in Oaxaca, and students in Guatemala in a series of "mutual apprenticeships" that activate local economies and engage the studio in larger conversations. 

"We like to get involved with people who do their work with love," Corona says.  

The result: modern objects that are charged with a greater resonance.

The Xipe Tótec collection of pitchers, mugs, platters, and cups by Platalea Studio speaks to the tradition of Mexican cuisine. 

The Happiness collection by Platalea is a playful series of objects that took their color and shape inspiration from unsolved childhood mysteries which became longings in adulthood.

Learn why Corona's dream home would include an Ultrafragola mirror by Ettore Sottsas, and read more of her responses to our Q&A below.

Hometown: Mexico City 

Describe what you make in 140 characters. [Rodrigo and I] work with artisanal processes, materials, and new technologies to create emotional ties that empower themes that fuel human development. 

What's the last thing you designed? A Siamese ghost suit for indigenous women in Xadani Oaxaca. 

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Looking at food recipes, while discussing complex themes. 

How do you procrastinate? We bake bread, we have sex, and we see a lot of movies. 

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The official historical patriarchal narrative, and redesigning an ambidextrous can opener that is not electric.

The Confetti bench by Platalea Studio is another member of the Happiness collection.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Joan Fontcuberta, Rosalind E. Krauss, Kazimir Malevich, Yoko Ono, Agnès Varda, Comandanta Ramona officer of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), and Frida Escobeda.

What skill would you most like to learn? Agriculture. 

What is your most treasured possession? A paper drawn effigy of the Virgin Mary of Mercy, and a Victorinox multi tool.

Another piece in the Happiness collection by Platalea

What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? As a child, I remember being fascinated by a small chair I had. I loved the idea of having objects made for my size. 

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Disposable objects and objects that favor the destruction of life.

Inside Platalea Studio in Mexico City

Finish this statement: All design should...provoke happiness. 

What’s in your dream house? An Ultrafragola mirror by Ettore Sottsas, a pair of armchairs from Leroy Person c. 1979, and a painting by Daniel Lezama named El Sueño del Tepeyac II, 2003. 

Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? Cooking.

The Momo vessel, a member of the Silva collection by Platalea 

 Other pieces in the Silva collection by Platalea 

How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? The pandemic has forced people to pay more attention to the space they live in and what they choose to have in their homes. Workplace and commercial spaces will be redesigned to lessen infection vectors like unnecessary surfaces or touchpoints. 

How can the design world be more inclusive? Design has never been inclusive.What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry?Design impacts our lives subconsciously regardless of whether we agree or not.        

You can learn more about Platalea Studio by visiting their website or on Instagram.

The Dwell 24 2020

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