Part II of Our Exploration of Mexico City’s Caravana Americana

Part II of Our Exploration of Mexico City’s Caravana Americana

By Paige Alexus
Last week, we shared our discoveries from Caravana Americana by LAGO, Mexico City’s design fair that showcased the best of Latin American furnishings, objects, and fashion.

We were truly inspired by the artisans, makers, and designers who are each doing their part in preserving their culture’s traditional techniques, while introducing a fresh perspective for the modern consumer.

As we explored the show floor, we also noticed a number of other themes taking place, including modern interpretations of traditional symbols—along with efforts to source local materials, follow sustainable practices, and create functional pieces for everyday life. 

Follow us through the second half of our adventure and get to know these companies who are working to produce handmade goods that exude passion and pride.

Read the first half of our story about Caravana Americana here.

Sourcing Local Materials

AYRES: Utilitarian Goods For the Kitchen 

AYRES was created by Joana Valdez—an industrial designer from Mérida who began her career with jewelry design—and Karim Molina, a Venezuelan publicist who studied textile design in Buenos Aires. After meeting in Mérida, the two have come together to design simple, utilitarian goods that are handmade by artisans in Mexico out of locally-sourced, natural ingredients. They work primarily with lava stone, marble, and woods sourced from the Yucatán. 

AYRES creates geometric cheese boards made with various tones of marble, lava stone, and leather. 

The mortar of their pestle and mortar is available in two types of marble, while the pestle is handmade out of Guayacan wood that’s sourced from the Yucatán and is finished with palm wax and linseed oil.

CU29: Lighting Made With Locally-Sourced Copper 

According to CU29, "We are proud of tradition. We hold a true commitment to preserving artisans’ techniques through fair trade of unique materials and talents of regional craft secrets that have been passed down through generations." As they’re currently working mostly with copper, they source all their material from Michoacán, Mexico, which is known to be a town that’s worked with copper since pre-Hispanic times. Since the town’s copper mines are now closed, they use recycled copper that’s smelted into ingots—and then beaten, rolled, and cut into a precise gauge and diameter once it’s cooled. They then hand it over to a coppersmith who turns it into a lamp by weaving the copper or hand-pounding it from a flat sheet.

The process of turning recycled copper into a modern lamp can take one to two days per piece. Once the hammered or woven pieces are finished, they’re heat-treated to seal in a patina, or polished for a copper shine. 

ISHI: Jewelry Made With Oaxacan Silk 

One of the jewelry designers that caught our eye was ISHI, a line designed by Regina Barrios—who also owns LAGO with Alessandro Cerutti, a boutique shop in Mexico City’s Polanco neighborhood. Based in Mexico City, she collaborates with talented communities throughout the nation, including the Zapotec from Oaxaca and the Huichol in the northwest Sierras. She strives to introduce ancestral craftsmanship into our modern, globalized lifestyle, while expressing Mexico’s rich culture through jewelry design. A line of necklaces Barrios presented at the show was made with silk that she sources from two small villages in the northern Sierras in Oaxaca, where the Zapotec people create natural thread and dye it with cochineal that they grow (a small insect that produces the natural dye, carmine).  

ISHI uses rough silk that’s dyed naturally with cochineal, indigo, nuts, moss, and the bark of a tree called Palo de Águila. Their Cajonos collection (shown here) features silk from two small villages in the northern Sierras in Oaxaca, where the Zapotec people grow the worm, make the thread, and dye it. They also use a waist loom to make rebozos, or shawls.

Reinventing a Traditional Shape 

Los Patrones: A Fresh Take on the Rocking Chair 

With a name that translates to "The Bosses," Los Patrones describes themselves as a "tribute to those who have paved the way for the path we walk today. Who taught us how to work—with responsibility and dedication—in the old way." Though they create mostly metal furnishings, they presented La Norestense at the show, a handwoven rocking chair designed by Christian Vivanco. Made with the Tule palm, it’s a reconfiguration of the traditional rocking chair from Monterrey, Mexico. 

The La Norestense rocking chair is produced between two Mexican cities. The metal work is done in Monterrey, Mexico, while the palm weaving is done in Mexico City.

The design of La Norestense began with a study of the traditional rocking chair that’s been a large part of daily life in Monterrey, Mexico. 

Celebrating Traditional Symbols

Korimi: Playful Kids' Products Inspired by Mexican Folk Stories 

With a name that translates to "rainbow" in Tarahumara, Korimi creates handmade clothing and accessories for children that are inspired by Mexican stories and legends. The founders create playful, colorful illustrations that are then hand-embroidered onto muslin cotton by women in Chiapas and Mexico City. Each piece tells a story that shares Mexico’s imagination. 

Based in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas, Korimi started working with a group of craftswomen in 2012 and has grown exponentially since then. This has allowed them to receive assistance from non-governmental programs to help modernize the artisanal sector they work within. They’re committed to developing sustainable products and empowering women through their craft.

Each linen cushion is hand-embroidered by artisans in Chimalhuacán Estado de México. The designs are based off of animal figures in Mexican folk tales. Shown here is Cushion Torito. 

They produce little denim vests for kids that are handmade with a traditional embroidery process in Zinacantán in Chiapas, México.

Produced by artisans from Chiapas, Mexico, the denim shoes are hand-embroidered with 100-percent cotton lining and a non-skid sole made with genuine leather. 

Korimi’s community is made up of several groups of artisans that have different dialects and traditions—but are all united by a love for textiles. From their Instagram: "Guillermo is responsible for planning and project management while Margarita, Cecilia, and Mari coordinate designs and field training in order to create sources of solid work for the women of Chiapas." 

In Korimi’s last trip to Oaxaca, they started working with Lanii Gifts to create mini backpacks that are handwoven by Oaxacan artisans and hand-embroidered by women from Michoacán. 

Escudo Peru: One-of-a-Kind Fashion Pieces 

Inspired by Peru’s traditions and based in Barranco, Lima, Escudo Peru designs clothing that takes cues from Peru’s soulful culture. With a commitment to their heritage, they create one-of-a-kind pieces with a a careful attention to detail and a high respect for artisanal techniques and Peruvian folk art. 

Escudo Peru references the past when looking towards the future. They bring together old and new through their use of fibers, knits, embroideries, colors, and seams. 

Aiming For Sustainability

Xaquixe: A Glass Studio With Sustainable Practices 

Studio Xaquixe showcased their beautiful glassware at the show and shared their holistic perspective that guides their design and manufacturing processes. With a goal of counteracting an environmental destruction of Mexico, they’re doing everything they can to innovate sustainably and to protect the glass-making culture of Mexico. As a result, they’ve become a pioneer in glass recycling.

Studio Xaquixe finds discarded glass from communities and collection centers in Oaxaca, Mexico, and turns it into a "formulated glass" recipe—a mix of 95-percent glass and five-percent raw materials. In their glass-blowing studio, they use a heat recovery system that reuses wasted heat from one part of the process, and filters it to another. This reduces energy consumption by up to 35 percent.  

Celebrating Functionality 

Cuchara: Functional Furnishings Inspired by Graphic and Industrial Design 

Based in Mexico City and founded by Emiliano Molina, Cuchara works with craft resources that have survived from the traditional carpentry industry in Mexico—but reinterprets them with a modern sense. Molina takes inspiration from graphic and industrial design to create simple furnishings that are geometric, durable, and functional. 

A pair of Finger Chairs by Cuchara are shown here in front of one of their consoles. It’s created with walnut and black vinipiel for durability. 

Natural Urbano: Common Elements Turned Into Useful Objects 

Originally from Ensenada, Mexico, but currently based in León, Guanajuato, Natural Urbano calls themselves a study focused on value creation. They bring together common elements to create conceptual objects that can be adapted for different uses. They’re all about functionality, simplicity, and usefulness. 

Made out of cedar and metal, Natural Urbano’s Tool Lamp was designed by Sebastian Beltran and is inspired by old woodworking tools.

Also designed by Sebastian Beltran is the Pelican, or "pelicano aterrizando." Inspired by an 80-centimeters-tall sculpture that was made about 20 years ago for a Sculpture Biennale in Baja, California, Beltran turned it into a modern rocking toy. 

Malte Taller: Pewter Gets a Graphic Treatment 

The team behind Malte Taller stands proudly behind pewter and all of its functional aspects. They use the malleable metal alloy—traditionally 85- to 99-percent tin with a mix of copper, antimony, and a few other ingredients—to create tabletop goods that are given a graphic design treatment. As a material that’s become a popular material in Mexican culture, it can be used with any source of energy including gas, induction, or direct fire. It's also easy to clean, resists bacteria, scratch-resistant, dishwasher-safe, and doesn’t rust. 

Malte Taller works with flux inks to create graphic illustrations on their pewter tabletop goods. They can also create custom designs for you. 



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