Mexico is home to a large group of new age designers. These designers believe in the power of slow design and working with local artisans to keep age old traditions alive, all while making beautiful products.
La Metropolitana is one such design studio. Founded in 2008 in Mexico City by Alejandro Gutiérrez, Rodrigo Escobedo and Mauricio Guerrero, the design studio primarily works on furniture designs. Working with local artisans and craftsmen, the team creates designs that are uniquely Mexican with a simplistic appeal. Designs at La Metropolitana try to make use of modern technology while encouraging traditional crafts. This is achieved by combining methods like CNC fabrication with traditional styles, materials and finishes.
The studio is particularly fond of wood for its projects. Wood as a material has a long history and deep-rooted relationship with the country. To La Metropolitana, it is a sacred symbol of human civilization. The properties of wood that allow it to be transformed and manipulated has allowed humans to make objects that, regardless of their form and function, retain their connection with nature. And it is this bond that La Metropolitana seeks to continue through its designs. Furniture pieces like the Buró HB and Mesa de Comedor SD use a mix of solid wood and plywood with natural finishes. The designs are functional and sturdy, with the beauty of the wood grain highlighted in every piece.
La Metropolitana’s designs have made the studio a mainstay in the Mexican design industry. Today, the brand works on furniture, accessories, interiors, graphics and art. For the interiors of Circulo Mexicano, a boutique hotel situated in downtown Mexico City, La Metropolitana worked with Ambrosi Etchegray to create the interior and furniture designs. The designers renovated the 19th Century residential building into a chic hotel with Shaker inspired interiors. The studio designed a custom line of furniture to fit the minimalist aesthetic of the interiors. As the Shakers were known for their dedication to wood craft and ascetic lifestyle, the design of the furniture was crucial to the overall design. The resulting line of designs held up to the Shaker standard, acting as both furniture and decor in the rooms. In 2016, La Metropolitana was approached by Noma to design a pop up restaurant in Mexico. With the pop up, chef Rene Redezpi wanted to learn and work with traditional Yucatecan ingredients. In keeping with this concept, the restaurant was designed as an open air eatery in a tropical jungle-like atmosphere. Along with wood, materials like thatch and bricks were used abundantly in the design. A special furniture series using Tzalam wood from the Yucatan peninsula was created for the restaurant seating. The seating area used no flooring, allowing the diners to feel the sand and connect with their surroundings.
The studio uses design as their primary tool to draw attention to social issues in the country. The team, for instance, created an art installation as a call for social action for the hundreds who go missing in Mexico due to violence. The art piece used wood to recreate the look of charred bones, raised on sticks. Signifying the remnants of something that was once alive, the installation evokes strong emotions that highlight the severity of the issue.. In another instance of social awareness, La Metropolitana started a remote workshop project. By creating workshops away from the city, the team enabled artisans to work from their own towns. This gives them the freedom to spend time with their families and stay in familiar surroundings to do their best work. Through such innovative initiatives, La Metropolitana makes it clear that the future of Mexican design is very bright.