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Dutch Design Week + Design Week Mexico

Two design weeks in two different countries demonstrate current social movements propelling design.

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Piet Hein Eek Signature work features recycled wood
Photo: Frank Tjepkema
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Ilara Cavaglia
The Popping Sound of Bubble Wrap
Photo: Frank Tjepkema
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Perpetuo by Sebastián Ángeles made in collaboration with Martín Cruz—a master weaver at Artesanías Clarita.
Photo: Marybeth Shaw
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Guest at the Design Week Mexico Inauguración at Espacio CDMX
Photo: Marybeth Shaw

Dutch Design Week and Design Week Mexico are the highlights of our fall show season, with a full roster of programming, from temporary installations in special venues, to museum and gallery exhibitions. At Dutch Design Week, we witnessed an intensification of efforts in sustainability. At Design Week Mexico, an upbeat ambience prevailed, with a focus on hybrid works by teams of Mexican craftspeople and contemporary designers. Here are a few notable projects spotted during our days exploring these centers of creativity.

— Recycling in Eindhoven

Throughout show venues—Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE), Piet Hein Eek, Kazerne and Microlab—designers sought to raise awareness by turning discarded materials into functional design. In fact, the DAE Graduation Show took place in a shopping mall called “Heuvel” which is 70% vacant, thus emphasizing the urgent need for repurposing architecture as well as materials. Ilara Cagvaglia’s project, The Popping Sound of Bubble Wrap, explored her fascination with material culture and the negative impacts of consumption. She used discarded bubble wrap as a molding material that yielded organic and synthetic forms in earthy tones that call to mind desert landscapes.

Piet Hein Eek’s signature works often feature recycled wood, re-composed to create contemporary furniture. He lacquers his finished pieces with a high gloss coating that transforms the reused wood of disparate finishes into highly desirable assemblage. Where Eek preserved the diversity of elements composing his furniture, Teun Zwets opted for a homogenous high gloss paint to unify the whole. Zwets reused discarded wood profiles that he split with an axe and glued together to create one-of-a-kind, functional furniture. Another recycler, Ilse Evers, founder of Eversom, used discarded fire hoses to create handbags and outdoor furniture that have the look of luxurious brick red leather.

Perhaps the ultimate act of recycling on display in Eind-hoven was at Microlab: the Living Coffin. Grown from mycelium and upcycled hemp by Loop Biotech, these biodegradable containers return the body’s nutrients to the soil. Meanwhile, at the Van Abbe Museum of Contemporary Art, a coffin made from Ikea furniture components was on display—a comment on the temporal nature of the body and consumer goods.

— Partnerships with Craft in CDMX

In Mexico, we witnessed a celebration of materials and fabrication techniques in volcanic stone, woven leather, rattan and straw, clay, wood, wool and cotton. All of these materials have been used since ancient times as building materials, functional and decorative elements. What was remarkable were the joyous partnerships of formally trained designers and artisans working through-out the country on ambitious projects that propel both sets of professionals forward.

The circle was a key motif. Ceramics were shaped, round medallions decorated buildings, and colorful dots of all shapes and sizes were sewn onto fabric, bringing a playful touch to housewares and tapestries. One of the most impressive circular forms was Perpetuo by artist Sebastián Ángeles at “Vision y Tradicion”, an exhibition mounted at the Museo Nacional de Antropoligia. To create the eight-foot-tall wicker sculpture, Ángeles collaborated with Martín Cruz—a weaver at Artesanías Clarita, a workshop in Tequisquiapan. By refining various processes, he was able to translate techniques reserved for crafting small baskets to larger-scale work. This symbol of in-perpetuity took more than a month and a half to complete.

Soft geometrics were also in abundance at the Design House in the capital’s Lomas neighborhood, where we also enjoyed a crash course in contemporary Mexican color. Rooms bathed in terra cotta and sienna alternated with spaces washed in cool neutral pigments. The Design House was a showcase for interior design, furniture and finishes—displayed in sixteen interior and five exterior spaces.

The sculptural ground floor terrace, by Mood Estudio, was painted a rich clay color that complemented the verdant hues of the surrounding foliage. Tadeo Lopez Toledano, architect and founder of the firm, describes his vision for the terrace as a thread between past and present, with an understanding that our new way of living is seamless. The terrace is a space for recreation, and now blends indoors and out. The ochre shades were the visual representation of nature and man-made structures existing side by side.

— International Design Imperatives

The exhibitions at Dutch Design Week and Design Week Mexico show that despite globalization, design is extremely diverse and deeply inflected by its geographic context and the lives of the people who create it. This breadth of design approaches engenders a similarly and vitally diverse set of approaches to existential global problems. Both shows featured designers engaged with the urgent question of sustainability; those in Eindhoven tended to focus on recyclability and contemporary consumer culture while Mexican designers focused on innovative applications of natural materials and long-venerated craft techniques—looking to the past to design the future.

Howl9 ft3 img1
Piet Hein Eek Signature work features recycled wood
Photo: Frank Tjepkema

Dutch Design Week and Design Week Mexico are the highlights of our fall show season, with a full roster of programming, from temporary installations in special venues, to museum and gallery exhibitions. At Dutch Design Week, we witnessed an intensification of efforts in sustainability. At Design Week Mexico, an upbeat ambience prevailed, with a focus on hybrid works by teams of Mexican craftspeople and contemporary designers. Here are a few notable projects spotted during our days exploring these centers of creativity.

— Recycling in Eindhoven
Howl9 ft3 img2
Ilara Cavaglia
The Popping Sound of Bubble Wrap
Photo: Frank Tjepkema

Throughout show venues—Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE), Piet Hein Eek, Kazerne and Microlab—designers sought to raise awareness by turning discarded materials into functional design. In fact, the DAE Graduation Show took place in a shopping mall called “Heuvel” which is 70% vacant, thus emphasizing the urgent need for repurposing architecture as well as materials. Ilara Cagvaglia’s project, The Popping Sound of Bubble Wrap, explored her fascination with material culture and the negative impacts of consumption. She used discarded bubble wrap as a molding material that yielded organic and synthetic forms in earthy tones that call to mind desert landscapes.

Howl9 ft3 img3
Perpetuo by Sebastián Ángeles made in collaboration with Martín Cruz—a master weaver at Artesanías Clarita.
Photo: Marybeth Shaw

Piet Hein Eek’s signature works often feature recycled wood, re-composed to create contemporary furniture. He lacquers his finished pieces with a high gloss coating that transforms the reused wood of disparate finishes into highly desirable assemblage. Where Eek preserved the diversity of elements composing his furniture, Teun Zwets opted for a homogenous high gloss paint to unify the whole. Zwets reused discarded wood profiles that he split with an axe and glued together to create one-of-a-kind, functional furniture. Another recycler, Ilse Evers, founder of Eversom, used discarded fire hoses to create handbags and outdoor furniture that have the look of luxurious brick red leather.

Perhaps the ultimate act of recycling on display in Eind-hoven was at Microlab: the Living Coffin. Grown from mycelium and upcycled hemp by Loop Biotech, these biodegradable containers return the body’s nutrients to the soil. Meanwhile, at the Van Abbe Museum of Contemporary Art, a coffin made from Ikea furniture components was on display—a comment on the temporal nature of the body and consumer goods.

— Partnerships with Craft in CDMX

In Mexico, we witnessed a celebration of materials and fabrication techniques in volcanic stone, woven leather, rattan and straw, clay, wood, wool and cotton. All of these materials have been used since ancient times as building materials, functional and decorative elements. What was remarkable were the joyous partnerships of formally trained designers and artisans working through-out the country on ambitious projects that propel both sets of professionals forward.

The circle was a key motif. Ceramics were shaped, round medallions decorated buildings, and colorful dots of all shapes and sizes were sewn onto fabric, bringing a playful touch to housewares and tapestries. One of the most impressive circular forms was Perpetuo by artist Sebastián Ángeles at “Vision y Tradicion”, an exhibition mounted at the Museo Nacional de Antropoligia. To create the eight-foot-tall wicker sculpture, Ángeles collaborated with Martín Cruz—a weaver at Artesanías Clarita, a workshop in Tequisquiapan. By refining various processes, he was able to translate techniques reserved for crafting small baskets to larger-scale work. This symbol of in-perpetuity took more than a month and a half to complete.

Soft geometrics were also in abundance at the Design House in the capital’s Lomas neighborhood, where we also enjoyed a crash course in contemporary Mexican color. Rooms bathed in terra cotta and sienna alternated with spaces washed in cool neutral pigments. The Design House was a showcase for interior design, furniture and finishes—displayed in sixteen interior and five exterior spaces.

The sculptural ground floor terrace, by Mood Estudio, was painted a rich clay color that complemented the verdant hues of the surrounding foliage. Tadeo Lopez Toledano, architect and founder of the firm, describes his vision for the terrace as a thread between past and present, with an understanding that our new way of living is seamless. The terrace is a space for recreation, and now blends indoors and out. The ochre shades were the visual representation of nature and man-made structures existing side by side.

Howl9 ft3 img4
Guest at the Design Week Mexico Inauguración at Espacio CDMX
Photo: Marybeth Shaw
— International Design Imperatives

The exhibitions at Dutch Design Week and Design Week Mexico show that despite globalization, design is extremely diverse and deeply inflected by its geographic context and the lives of the people who create it. This breadth of design approaches engenders a similarly and vitally diverse set of approaches to existential global problems. Both shows featured designers engaged with the urgent question of sustainability; those in Eindhoven tended to focus on recyclability and contemporary consumer culture while Mexican designers focused on innovative applications of natural materials and long-venerated craft techniques—looking to the past to design the future.