founded by kythzia barrera — an eindhoven design academy graduate — and diego mier y terán, colectivo 1050º is a mexican brand of clay objects made by hand in oaxaca, mexico, with the mission of opening new paths to this disappearing discipline and empowering the artisans who practice it. ‘in a world of disposable plastic products, produced in millions, the unique craft of the potter is rarely valued,’ comments colectivo 1050º. ‘since they cannot earn a sufficient and fair income, many are abandoning the craft altogether.’

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
(above) image by fanel reyes
(main) image by diego mier y terán

 

 

the colectivo 1050 º’s designers work together with artisans, in a collaboration that results in pottery products adapted for our contemporary lifestyles. their pieces merge the wisdom of tradition with the dynamism of innovation, transforming mud into beauty. designboom met with the collective at caravana americana in mexico, where they discussed their mission, aim and current works.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

 

 

designboom: can you tell us how colectivo 1050º started?

 

colectivo 1050º: colectivo 1050 ° started with an urge to find reasonable and meaningful ways to be a designer and to practice design in the context of mexico, one of the richest and most diverse countries in the world in terms of culture and ecosystems. we were driven by the question of what we could learn as designers from the traditional potters, whom we consider the best and original designers in this territory.

 

first, we created ‘innovando la tradición’ (innovating tradition), a nonprofit organization, to increase the commercial, symbolic and cultural value of pottery, through a systemic approach. colectivo 1050 ° was then created as the commercial branch of innovando, and to close the loop by bringing money back to the artisans through sales in high-end scale markets.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by eric mindling

 

 

DB: if you were to describe the values of colectivo 1050º in 5 words, which would they be?

 

C1050º: conviviality, long-term thinking, experimentation, simplicity, and locality.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

 

 

DB: which have been the highlights of the studio until today?

 

C1050º: well, I wouldn’t call ourselves a studio, at least not in the common sense of ‘designers’ studio’. our practice is very loose, not localized in one spot, but dispersed throughout the different artisan’s workshops.

 

as for the highlights, we were selected as part of the destination: mexico exhibition at MoMA store. this year we made record sales (thanks in big part to caravana) and we also participated at in the santa fe folk art market.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by eric mindling

 

 

DB: your practice has a very strong social commitment, can you tell us a bit more about this?

 

C1050º: traditional pottery in oaxaca is at risk of disappearing. in a world of disposable plastic products, produced in the millions, the unique craft of the potter is rarely valued. since they cannot earn a sufficient and fair income, many are abandoning the craft altogether. young generations rarely see a future in creating the pots, pans and comales that have been at the root of their tradition for thousands of years. we fear that at least a third of the villages now working with clay will abandon their craft in the next decade, or after the current generation passes away.

 

traditional pottery embodies a way of relating to the world that is much more balanced than our current systems. while abandoning the old paradigm of competition and disconnection, there is so much to learn from the potters that live connected to their bodies, their communities, their surroundings, and their souls.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

 

 

C1050º continues… colectivo 1050° represents more than 45 artisans in seven villages. we strive to function through fair trade, and with ecologically sustainable practices. our products are free of lead, and full of solidarity.

 

sales from colectivo 1050° fund ‘innovando la tradición’, a multidisciplinary network of people and a non-profit working to preserve and find new paths for the artisans of Oaxaca and their immensely rich heritage.

 

colectivo 1050° is not primarily a commercial enterprise or a design project, it is first and foremost a project for social resilience and change, thinking globally and acting locally.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

 

 

DB: which pieces did you present during caravana americana?

 

C1050º: some of our classics are: ‘bartola water jugs’ in black clay; ‘zandunga glazed mezcal cups’ in green, yellow, pink, white, and blue; the ‘three little pigs’ in red clay; the ‘elia cooking pot’ also in red clay; as well as our new characters: the ‘tonaltepec dripped bowls’, a table set of black clay plates and more.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

 

 

DB: what was it that made you want to be part of caravana americana?

 

C1050º: it was a very important space that was needed for a design field ripe for the wholesale market. it was very well organized, a good proposal, that helped consolidate the local market and local sales.

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by eric mindling

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by diego mier y terán

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

colectivo 1050 grados interview caravana americana designboom
image by fanel reyes

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