Fernando Laposse is a London based Mexican designer/artist, who specializes in transforming humble natural materials into refined pieces. He has worked extensively with overlooked plant fibers such as sisal, luffah, 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.
His 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.
Laposse makes benches using sisal, the raw fibers from the leaves of the agave plant which are typically used to make ropes, carpets and fishing nets; pink beasts using agave fibers dyed with cochineal, a natural pigment from insects and totomoxtle, a veneer for interiors and furniture made with the husks of endangered heirloom corn from Mexico, a new sustainable material which preserves biodiversity and supports indigenous communities.
Laposse believes that new technology, particularly the development of new biodegradable materials, may not necessarily be the answer to the environmental problems the world is facing, “There are a number of solutions that can be found by looking back to the historic use of materials. With my sisal furniture and installations, I try to present sisal in its raw form and to show people how simple it is to go from plant to final product. For this, I make the whole process myself, from harvesting the plants to crushing them to make fibers, combing and knotting them by hand to make hairy objects, furniture and installations. I doubt that the sisal industry will regain its previous glory anytime soon but with my pieces I try to adapt and reinterpret the ways that it is still used in Mexico by indigenous communities. Hopefully this will help to inform consumers of the skill and time needed to produce traditional weaves.”
Watch a video where Laposse talks about Totomoxtle