Design Engagements in Puebla, Mexico

I recently had the pleasure of giving two lectures and visiting leading design schools in Puebla City, Mexico.

The first lecture: “El Paisaje de la Moda Canadiense y la Investigación de Sostenibilidad de la Moda” was held on March 26, 2019 at the School of Design at Ibero University. I talked (in Spanish) to the students in the textile design program about my recent research in Oaxaca, as well as discussed fashion sustainability in the Canadian context. The students asked thought-provoking and challenging questions, and it was definitely an occasion of reciprocal learning.

I toured the campus and was impressed by the faculty I met as well as with the facilities. The textile design program has computerized weaving machines, as well as handlooms, and upon graduation students find work in Mexico’s thriving textile industry. Ibero Puebla offers engineering, industrial design, jewelry and many other programs. Due to this extensive program offering, the textile design students have access to many different workshops and labs as well as lazer cutters and an on-site vinyl cutting service.

In addition to visiting Ibero’s beautiful campus, I had the honour of acting as a judge for a sustainable fashion design competition on March 29, 2019. The students were tasked with creating a garment entirely from second-use materials. All of the finished designs will be exhibited at the Cholula Festival of Jazz at the end of April, so movement was one of the criteria for inclusion in the finished garment. In addition to this the winning team receives a prize.

Program Director Maestra Adriana Quiroz Hernandez explained to me that part of her pedagogical goals for the competition were to encourage the students to engage with each other and collectively design and problem-solve their way to a successful finished design. There were eleven teams in total, and each team was assembled from all four years of the program, so students got to know other program students outside of their year.

The groups assembled at 9 am on March 28 and had until 4:00 that afternoon to design, implement and finish their sustainable creations. I was in the hall where the work was being done and was favourably impressed with the level of cooperation, innovation and high spirited fun exhibited by the students; many of whom had only met that day.

The judges comprised several program faculty members, the dean of the faculty of design, Cholula vintage boutique owner Lupe Baez and myself. The judging was extremely challenging because all of the designs matched up with much of the judging criteria: use of materials; level of finish; design creativity. In the end there was one group whose design exhibited strengths in all aspects of the rubric. Congratulations to all of the students and faculty at Ibero Puebla, Diseño Textil y Moda.

I also visited the university of Unarte which offers fine arts, graphic design, fashion design, interior design, industrial design as well as a degree in sustainable architecture. There I met with students from the fashion design program and gave a talk entitled: “Sostenibilidad, Tintes Naturales y Diseño Colectivo”. Which was followed by a lively Q&A moderated by the director of the fashion program: Nieves Rodoreda.

I also toured the design studios library and campus of Unarte and appreciated the focus on creativity and inter-disciplinary exploration.

In addition to my academic engagements I also attended the opening night of the Casa Besign 2019. Situated in a stately old mansion on Boulevard Juarez the interior design exposition contains spaces designed by 23 Mexican interior designers. The installations were truly innovative and avant garde throughout.

To support Besign 2019, there was also an exposition of contemporary Mexican design and a retrospective of the oeuvre of Italian Memphis designer: Allesandro Mendini at the San Pedro Museo de Arte in Puebla centro.

In addition to the design expos, there are also the distinguished permanent collections of the many museos of Puebla:

The spectacular churches of Puebla and Cholula

As well as the wonderful architecture to be found everywhere in Puebla centro.

All of which made for an intellectually stimulating and pleasurable experience. Muchas gracias Puebla, I can’t wait to return.

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