Fernando Laposse on corn, colour and (Mexican) culture

02.06.20. Internet. Lockdown special

The fourth ‘lockdown special’ episode of Material Matters features the excellent Fernando Laposse. The up-and-coming designer has made his name in recent years with his colourfully beautiful veneer, Totomoxtle, which is made from the husks of Mexican corn grown in the tiny village of Tonahuixtla.

The product was included in last year’s exhibition Food: Bigger than the Plate at the V&A, as well as being shortlisted for the London Design Museum’s Beazley Designs of the Year in 2018.

In this episode the Paris-born but Mexican-bred designer talks about the background of this deeply personal project, which involves macro-economics (and Mexico’s controversial free trade agreement with the US and Canada); agricultural heritage; global food culture; old family friends and childhood summer holidays; as well as craft and, of course, corn.

Importantly it illustrates how design thinking can genuinely make a difference to an entire community, showing that traditional techniques and ways of living can still thrive in the globalised economy.

As Fernando says, his work ‘is preoccupied with sustainability, the loss of biodiversity, community disenfranchisement and the politics of food’.  

Find out more about Fernando Laposse

Totomoxtle is created from the husks of Mexican corn grown in the tiny village of Tonahuixtla. 

The product can be used as a finish in a number of different environments.
 This is Delfino Martinez, an old family friend who was vital to the success of the project.

Farmers use a traditional bull plough to till the soil. All images courtesy of the artist.