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San Francisco visits Design Week Mexico

If you’ve never been, it’s difficult to summarize what defines a Design Week globally—each city produces something completely unique, offering a perspective into a design that is tethered to its own location and history. In it’s most abstract form, a Design Week or Festival is a time when designers, entrepreneurs, artists, scholars, and the general public come together and explore how design can positively enhance our individual and collective communities. As Dawn Zidonis, Executive Director of AIGA SF and San Francisco Design Week is often quoted as saying “International Design Weeks are a great way to experience a city through the lens of Design”.

Design House, Mexico City

It was in this spirit that the World Design Week organization was founded as a community of design festival Directors around the world who gather under the unified banner of design’s positive influence. We were visited by the founders of Design Week Mexico this past June during San Francisco Design Week and in October we were invited to Mexico City to experience everything their festival had to offer.

San Francisco Design Week 2018 Opening Night: Executive Director Dawn Zidonis with founder Emilio Cabrera of Design Week Mexico and colleagues. Pier 27, San Francisco, California

Mexico City was crowned the World Design Capital of 2018 by the World Design Organization. To celebrate this, it was this year’s major destination for the convening of the World Design Week board who came together for Design Week Mexico from October 9–15, 2018. Design Week Mexico included a wide array of events, exhibitions, and gatherings.

Design Week Mexico and Arch Days Forum on October 13th the World Summit of Design Weeks was held in Mexico City, which the objective was to promote collaboration in the design field, to support product development, and to develop the economy of creative fields. The event addressed the economy and product development from the point of view of design. It also creates a tangible framework for designers to build a new national identity, to strengthen international networking, and to develop cooperation and innovation. Design weeks have great potential to cultivate and promote local design talents, as the participants are well aware, there are also many obstacles to overcome. We hope that this exchange of ideas and experience will help us to find solutions to our common challenges in a global context, members will also gain a deep insight into the international design industry as it stands today and see how it can develop in the future.” – Emilio Cabrera, founder, Design Week Mexico

Mexico City is an imposing place with 22 million residents, it dwarfs our own petite cities in the Bay Area. Similar to San Francisco Design Week, events take place in many different corners of the region.

The week was kicked off with the grand opening of the Visón y Tradicón exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Anthropología considered Mexico’s most important museum. The exhibition, which took over five years to develop, brought together designers and traditional artisans who working together, re-envisioned Mexico’s traditional craft techniques within a modernized world.

Visón y Tradicón exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Anthropología, Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Jaime Navarro, courtesy of Design Week Mexico, 2018

Immediately preceding the opening was the opening of the Inédito at the Museo Tamayo, a short walk through Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks on the continent. The modern art museum is a brutalist beauty, with concrete walls and glass exterior and an excellent setting for an exhibition reflecting on and foretelling Mexico’s global influence on modern trends in both art and design. The Fourth Edition of Inédito, the exhibition celebrates emerging Mexican designers, as well as established firms.

Inédito, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico. Image by Jaime Navarro, courtsey of Design Week Mexico, 2018

For the 10th year in a row, Design Week Mexico has premiered the Design House, an abandoned home that was transformed by 24 different design studios. Each room had a distinctive character–some vividly pink, others dark with volcanic surfaces and metal finishes. One of the most striking elements was the all-glass tree house, accessed by glass steps accentuated by vertical, built-in lights.

Design House, Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Jaime Navarro, courtesy of Design Week Mexico, 2018

Design House, Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Jaime Navarro, courtesy of Design Week Mexico, 2018.

In between planned events were the unofficial field trips hosted by World Design Weeks to locations such as the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, a library of glass and steel that is one of the most dramatic expressions of contemporary architecture. We also had a chance to visit the Camino Real Hotel in the Polanco neighborhood. Built for the 1968 Olympics and designed by late architect Ricardo Legoretta, the hotel is a treasure-trove of modern design.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos

Following the opening evening, the World Design Week crew convened for the opening Design Week Mexico’s host city and fellow World Design Week colleague, Barcelona Design Week. The exhibition was nestled within the Parque Lincoln, called such for the large statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Barcelona Exhibition, Parque Lincoln, Mexico City

World Design Weeks: Helsinki, Dutch Design Week, San Francisco, Seoul, Los Angeles, Barcelona and Mexico gathered to celebrate the opening of the Barcelona Exhibition

Following the exhibition was a luncheon hosted by Design Week Mexico at their headquarters and the office of Espacio CDMX Arquitectura y Diseño It was here that you could hear a diverse array of accents and languages as international guests came together for a traditional Mexican lunch. It is these types of events that truly bring the global design community together, away from the more formal evening events, where we could leisurely discuss our own festivals programs and share best practices and challenges over a meal.

Design lunch at Espacio CDMX Arquitectura y Diseño

One of our personal prerogatives was to visit the Casa Luis Barragén—no photos permitted inside the casa, so you’ll have to see it for yourself— considered Mexico’s most important architect. We were fortunate that the Casa was built into Design Week Mexico activities and included nearby programming and the exhibition, Utopía.

Our visit culminated with the opening off Architectura y Diseño, an exhibition that celebrated cutting-edge architecture, mapped out onto two tables that extended the length of the Design Week Mexico headquarters in Chapultepec Park. Among them was a new studio for the artist Silvia Gruner design by Sinestesia Arquitectura, as well as a beautiful new addition to an old building complex designed by Quintanilla Arquitectos.

While we were on a private tour of his studio, Design Week Mexico founder Emilio Cabrera was serendipitously awarded a high honor from the city for his contributions and advancements through his efforts with DWM, much to his surprise and our excitement.

Emilio Cabrera, founder, Design Week Mexico, receiving his award.

Congratulations to Design Week Mexico on another great year.

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