Editor's note: Prominent Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena met with interpretive specialist Ann Lambson when they visited the Denver Art Museum to install La Musidora on the plaza outside the Hamilton Building. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. La Musidora is on display through October 29, 2017.
Ann Lambson: So tell us a little about La Musidora.
Héctor Esrawe: La Musidora is inspired [by] the rocking chair and a musical instrument…so it’s a mix of those elements that creates a single word called la musidora which is a mix of “la mecedora” and “la música” in Spanish.
The main influence, naturally, is based on the craftsmen of Mexico. All the color palettes are influenced [by] the textiles of the traditional weaving that we have in Mexico. We translate these expressions and these techniques into new meanings; that is something that we like to do a lot. We like to use the reference, it could be based on our heritage, and then give it a new expression and a new meaning.
AL: How do you hope the community will interact with La Musidora?
Ignacio Cadena: …We love the causal quality of the piece. That it’s not art, and yet it is. It’s design, and yet it’s not. It’s public furniture, and yet it’s an installation. It’s everything, and people lose this fear of having contact with art or with design because it’s out there for you to use it. And we love this exploration of these ideas because we think these paradigms of culture that come out of a museum, which we think is beautiful, and that’s the whole thing behind [a] museum – to talk about culture and expressions and to just bring it out in the open space and make it more accessible and make it, in a way less, what do you say, less distant and just really practical. We love that idea. For us as designers the moment we love the most is what happened a couple days ago. We were walking, and we look at the people engaging with this and seeing the smiles that it provokes in them, and having them discover how it’s used.
AL: You’ve created a number of popular public design installations, each one is different, and yet there seems to be a thread that’s woven between these projects. Could you talk about the connections between your public installations?
IC Sure, from the heart, it’s community. It’s design. It’s art. It’s expression. It’s craftsmanship. It’s bridges connecting. From an aesthetic point of view – color, simplicity, and I think detail.
HE: Yeah and also to put another thing on top, is that we’re really proud of our inheritance in crafts, the background that we have as a culture. So yes we are revisiting where we come from, [and] trying in our way to give it new meanings, and new expressions, and new languages out of it.
AL: You are each leading designers in your own right, how and when did you start to work together?
HE: We were invited three times in three different occasions by three clients to sit at the same table without knowing each other. The third time we realized that the clients were seeing something that we hadn’t seen. So we start[ed] to collaborate around seven years ago. And since that time, even though we kept our [separate] studios, we are related in many ways. We are partners in a perfume company, but we’ve been teaming up for the last seven years in different projects.
IC: Yeah and at the end of the day I think that’s really what we can teach the people that work in our studios. We are used to collaborating with many different architects, designers, other studios, and we love that. But somehow Esrawe and Cadena, both our teams have somehow found a way to speak differently to each other, to respect the work of one another, and to always when we begin a project, to learn about each other. So it’s always really interesting because it’s never the same.
Photo at top: Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena at Untitled Final Friday June 30, 2017.