5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico

As part of the 14-day design festival that took place in Mexico City, SPACE10 presented the exhibition "Deconstructed Home", with the intention of taking it to different places in Mexico. Five designers were convened and through six intensive weeks of design research and experimentation, they identified and explored new possibilities and uses for the biomaterial of their choice.

The resulting work is developed into a thought-provoking exhibition that shares the designers' visions of how these biomaterials could shape homes of the future, referring both to the spaces where we live and sleep, and our wider home, the planet. Designers considered how the local soil beneath our feet or the wax of xunaán kaab - a stingless bee native to Mexico - could help shape the future of materials. Others looked at how waste from maize, rambutan and tamarind harvests could be reworked in a way that supports the environment and local communities.

The recent pandemic has highlighted flaws in our global supply chain, the ongoing climate emergency has revealed more problems with the way we manufacture and transport materials and products around the world. How can we make use of discarded natural materials and design processes to engage with our local ecosystems in a supportive way? And how can the materials of the future create a positive impact for local communities?
- Elsa Dagný Ásgeirsdóttir, Senior Creative Producer, SPACE10

The exhibition invites visitors to consider how we can design, make and build our homes and everyday objects in connection with place, culture and time, in a regenerative way. The design ranges from the physical walls that form a place of shelter to the objects that preserve and enable nourishment. Almendra Isabel's photographs accompany the exhibition, capturing the place of origin of each material to share how the projects can create a positive impact for local communities and species. The prototypes are displayed alongside the raw materials they are made from, connecting landscape, matter and object. Read on to find out more about the projects.

Protective Articles / Taina Campos
Maize, Milpa Alta, Mexico City

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico - Image 7 of 10
© Almendra Isabel

"The protection items are a series of containers that can be used to serve, protect and transport food, made from discarded corn husks. To design the vessels, Taina Campos worked with Mujeres de la Tierra (Women of the Earth), a community organisation that supports women who have suffered domestic violence. The women make and sell tortillas, tamales and atole to become economically independent. They wanted non-plastic containers to carry their food, so Taina turned to the waste from the maize harvest to make a material. Protecting native maize is culturally and ecologically vital, for the health of the land and the people".

Migrant Objects / Bertín López
Rambutan, Tapachula, Soconusco

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico - Image 2 of 10
© Almendra Isabel

"Bertín López transforms discarded rambutan shells into material to create objects for the home. The bowls honour the land and farmers of Soconusco by using the entire harvest. The rambutan migrated from Southeast Asia in the 1950s and established itself in the soils of Soconusco. What was once foreign has become part of the local identity. Migrating Objects supports the complex relationships between rambutan trees and surrounding species by playing a vital role in the ecosystem. The design could be relevant in other hot climates where the diaspora rambutan has also found a home."

Homes for Honey / Gabriel Calvillo
Beeswax, Tixpehual, Yucatan

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico - Image 4 of 10
© Almendra Isabel

"Gabriel Calvillo uses beeswax to mould pots and frames, essential structures for native beehives. Homes for Honey is a cross-species collaboration, where humans prefabricate the foundations and bees finish the construction. Melipona is a tribe of stingless bee species with local ecological and cultural value. Mayan peoples used hollow logs to raise Xunaán kaab (Melipona beecheii) for two thousand years, creating an intimate relationship of interdependence between pollinators and people. However, stingless beekeepers are declining, as is biodiversity. Native bees are important for building resilience in a time of climate uncertainty."

Building with soil / Karen Kerstin Poulain
Soil, San Francisco Chimalpa, Naucalpan

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico - Image 3 of 10
© Almendra Isabel

"For Building with soil, Karen Kerstin Poulain imagines an alternative way of working with dirt: pouring it! Made from tepetate, water, rice husks and very little energy input, the composite is resistant to compression and cracking, while reducing agricultural waste. Soil is little explored in modern Mexican architecture, with barriers in the lack of local techniques and social connotations with poverty. While concrete was the darling of industrialisation, it is an energy-intensive material and is responsible for eight per cent of global CO2 emissions. To build affordable housing, we need alternative methods, and liquid soil has great potential.

Weaving Relics / Paloma Morán Palomar
Tamarindo by Tequesquitlan, Jalisco

5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico - Image 6 of 10
© Almendra Isabel

"Weaving Relics transforms tamarind fibre into yarn to explore possibilities in textile applications. Paloma Morán Palomar's family grows tamarind in Tequesquitlan, a small town in Jalisco. While the edible fruits and seeds are used, the peel and fibres are discarded. The project reconsiders the waste while respecting the memory of the material. The resulting carpet interweaves traditional weaving techniques with current material discoveries. By experimenting with what she has at hand, Paloma turns waste into something useful, valuable and beautiful, extending the family, cultural and ecological heritage into new futures."

Following the exhibition's debut at LOOT, the project will be exhibited at Casa UC (Av México 200, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06100 Mexico City, CDMX) in collaboration with What Design Can Do Mexico and the Universidad de la Comunicación. Subsequently, the exhibition will travel to PAD, in Guadalajara.

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Cite: Arellano, Mónica. "5 Designers Explore the Possibilities of Biomaterials in Mexico" [5 diseñadores exploran las posibilidades de los biomateriales en México] 19 May 2022. ArchDaily. (Trans. Pérez Bravo, Amelia) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/981871/5-designers-explore-the-possibilities-of-biomaterials-in-mexico> ISSN 0719-8884

© Almendra Isabel


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