Abitare Online, 17/12/2017

Reflections on the Design Week that recently wrapped up in Mexico City. Just a taste of what’s to come in 2018, when the metropolis will be the World Design Capital

The ninth edition of the Design Week, with a packed programme of exhibitions, installations, workshops, conferences and a small trade show with 140 international exhibitors, recently wrapped up in Mexico City. The guest country was Switzerland, fêted in an exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno, which shows the importance of Helvetic design cultural and a few “stories” that connect the two countries, one of them being the decade that Hannes Meyer, the former director of the Bauhaus, spent in Mexico.

The nearby Museo Tamayo welcomes the exhibition Inedito, focused on the work of emerging young talents, and Visión & tradición, an experiment in collaboration between craftsmen from the state of Puebla and Swiss and Mexican designers. In the park that surrounds the museum is the temporary pavilion Parteluz designed by the Materia studio.

Overall what emerges is the ambition of Mexican design to build a strong identity for itself based on the complex roots of the local culture. A very interesting endeavour but one that, without the support of an industrial sector and an internal market that isn’t just niche, in many cases represents an element of weakness when compared to the international market’s taste. It’s just a sample of what we’ll get to see over the course of 2018 when Mexico City will be the World Design Capital, offering a reflection on socially responsible design, that is to say on the importance of good projects that generate positive change in the lives of residents. By 2020 80 per cent of Latin America’s population will be urbanised, an extremely complex prospect in which it’s not possible to define a strategic role for design if not through its interconnections with other aspects of scientific, technical and humanistic knowledge. This wider concept of design as a tool and impulse for transformation of the city is central in the tiny but extremely dense exhibition Mexico Ciudad Diseño (Pasado) at the Archivo de Diseño y Arquitectura. The intermediate stage of a three-year investigation divided into three exhibitions and a final publication, it brings together 100 fragments: pieces of design and everyday objects, as well as graphic design, architectural, urban planning and infrastructure projects that testify to the most important moments in the political, social and economic life of the city over the course of the 20th century.