Fernando Laposse is a London based Mexican designer, who trained in Central Saint Martins as a product designer.
Fernando specialises in transforming humble natural materials into refined design pieces. He has worked extensively with overlooked plant fibers such as sisal, loofah, and corn leaves.
His works are the result of extensive research which culminates into objects of “endemic design” where materials and their historical and cultural ties to a particular location and its people take center stage. He often works with indigenous communities in his native Mexico to create local employment opportunities and raise awareness about the challenges they face in a globalized world.
Fernando’s projects are informative and educational and touch on topics such as sustainability, the loss of biodiversity, community dissolution, migration and the negative impacts of global trade in local agriculture and food culture. He does so by documenting the issues and announcing possible resolutions through the transformative power of design.
His projects have been exhibited at the Triennale di Milano, Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, The Design Museum in London, Victoria and Albert, the World Economic Forum to name a few. His work is held in the permanent collections of the V&A and SF Moma.
What is an Alternative Thinker for you?
I guess it would be someone that walks slightly off the beaten path and has the sensitivity to notice things that most don’t.
What are you bringing forward in your work?
I try to bring attention to natural materials and talk about issues regarding sustainability and ecology. I think what is perhaps particular about my work is that I work closely with indigenous communities and highlight their profound relations to certain materials and the challenges they face to maintain them in a globalised world.
Why did you highlight this/these specific project(s) below?
I think they are the most representative of the philosophy of my practice both conceptually and aesthetically.
What would you like to see change in the current economy?
I hope we can break free of the trap we have created where we measure success based on yearly economic growth, it’s a system that has pushed the countries to produce and consume many times beyond the capabilities of our natural resources and ecosystems. We can’t even get close to achieving true sustainability without first getting rid of this unrealistic measuring stick.
Tell us what your vision of the new world – post COVID-19 – is like?
I hope this will be the wakeup call we all needed. I am not only talking about our relationship with nature but also amongst each other. This crisis is exposing some very serious social issues which we can’t ignore anymore. For example, in Mexico where I am currently based there is a clear distinction between the people that can stay at home and practice social distancing and the ones that have to risk their health because they can’t afford to stop working. The region where I normally work with corn is seeing a big spike in COVID cases because of all the illegal migrants that kept the fields and restaurants running in the United States who were fired without furlough or health insurance and are now forced to migrate back home. The system is broken, and I truly hope we will take the following months and years as an opportunity to make amends.
Who would you like to collaborate with in terms of brands / institutions / property developers / other Alternative Thinkers?
I think I would like to work with like-minded people that are concerned with being thorough when it comes to addressing issues of sustainability and social justice. For me it’s important that there is a coherence between the message and the ultimate results of a project, and I am sure this platform can provide those connections.
Laposse, an advocate for sustainable craft traditions, was chosen by the Miami Design District in 2019 for the way he expresses beauty, history, and environmental sensitivities throughout his work. His unique designs both educate and engage the public in their appreciation for the natural world. For Pink Beasts, Laposse collaborated with like-minded fiber artist, Angela Damman as well as artisans in Sacabah, Yucatán as part of the installation.
Sisal Sanctum, an installation commissioned by citizenM by London-based designer Fernando Laposse, has opened for the London Design Festival 2018. Located at the entrance to citizenM Shoreditch, the work shines a light on sisal and the people that are sustained by its production. Sisal Sanctum creates a sensorial and tactile landscape using raw sisal, a natural fibre harvested from a species of Agave cactus found in the South of Mexico.
Totomoxtle is a new material that harnesses the brilliant spectrum of colour seen in the husks of heirloom corn. Varying from deep purples, to soft creams, Totomoxtle showcases the natural colour range of species of native corn that exist in Mexico. Each husk is carefully cut and peeled off the cob, ironed flat and glued onto a paper pulp or textile backing. At this point the material is ready to be cut by hand or laser into small pieces that are reassembled to make marquetry for furniture or interior surfaces.