Top Design Cities 2019: Oaxaca, Mexico
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Top Design Cities 2019: Oaxaca, Mexico

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By Mikki Brammer
Javier Reyes, founder of rrres studio, works with local artisans to create products with a modern sensibility using traditional techniques.

Built on a heritage of crafts such as weaving and pottery‚ Oaxaca‚ Mexico‚ could easily be considered a land of well- made tchotchkes. But its community of young designers is finding ways to keep the region’s long-established arts alive—and also give them contemporary relevance.

One of them is Dominican-born Javier Reyes‚ who moved to Oaxaca three years ago and began working directly with local craftspeople to realize new designs. "Since I came here I’ve been able to have a better understanding of our shared history and culture‚" he explains of his newfound appreciation for his roots. "I want to talk about those‚ the clash of two different worlds‚ the old and new world‚ the mix of cosmology and religion‚ and European and indigenous people."

His perfect day in Oaxaca...

The Zócalo

For a morning coffee with an added buzz‚ Reyes heads to The Zócalo—the historic center of the city—where classic bars and cafes line the main square.

Café Bar del Jardín

His preferred perch is under the arches of Café Bar del Jardín‚ on the plaza’s southwest corner‚ where he says you can see everyone "from marimba musicians and artisans from different parts of Oaxaca to people protesting."

Marisquería Playa del Carmen

Come lunchtime‚ Reyes also favors an old-time classic‚ Marisquería Playa del Carmen, which serves up particularly flavorful versions of typical Oaxacan seafood.

La Tiendita del Barro

For design inspiration on the way to the restaurant‚ he recommends stopping by La Tiendita del Barro by design firm Colectivo 1050o‚ which works with local artisans using pottery techniques distinct to the region.

Centro de las Artes San Agustín

Round out the day with a trip out to the Centro de las Artes San Agustín. The multicultural space is housed in an old textile factory restored to architectural glory in the nearby town of San Agustin Etla and showcases both Mexican and international artists. 

More Design Cities 2019: 

Chicago, Illinois

Seoul, South Korea

Barcelona, Spain

Cape Town, South Africa

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