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“A Handmade Modernism: Artisanal Design in Mexico, 1952 – 2022”

Taking as a starting point the work of Cuban-Mexican designer Clara Porset, the exhibition “A Handmade Modernism,” counts amongst its inventory iconic pieces from some of the designers that today are part of our catalogue at Clásicos Mexicanos, such as Antonio Attolini, Ricardo Legorreta and Michael Van Beuren. The exhibit is based on the first design show in Mexico, called “Art in Everyday Life.” The original exhibit had objects of what Porset considered to be “good design” made in our country. Michael Van Beuren’s “Alacran” was part of the original show. This piece won the MoMa’s “Organic Design and Home Furniture” competition in 1941. 

In the brochure that accompanies the exhibit, Ana Elena Mullet, the curator, claims that “in Mexico, incorporating modernity into the design of the everyday environment involved a unification of local traditions and conditions with the dream of industrialization.” Because of this, the exhibition seeks to manifest the synthesis between traditional forms and industrial, modern ones, an interest shared with all of the authors featured in our catalogue. It is no wonder then, that works from three of our designers are now exhibited in this show. 

The exhibition is divided into four parts. The fourth and last section is called “new Mexican typologies.” According to Mullet, in Mexico, modern design is defined by its reinterpretation of popular prototypes and this is evident in the pieces that make up this last part. It consists of showing a typology of Mexican seats that, starting from Porset, defined a Mexican design style all throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. Many popular furniture prototypes are shown, reinterpreted by the exhibit’s featured artists and designers, incluiding Antonio Attolini Lack’s and Ricardo Legorreta’s interpretation of the traditional “silla de palo.” It’s important to mention that Legorreta’s original Vallarta chair can be found in this exhibition; this piece is now part of our catalogue and has been developed alongside Ricardo Legorreta’s studio, Legorreta Arquitectos.