OAXACA, Mexico — We periodically check in on Colectivo 1050° from Mexico, a collaborative endeavor of traditional potters who make jaw-dropping designs with clay. The group was founded by Kythzia Barrera who is a graduate of Eindhoven Design Academy.
Above photograph by Fanel Reyes.
For Barrera the collective answers problems on two sides of the design fence: consumers are too often saddled with cheap, artless mass-produced designs, while traditional, highly-skilled potters leave the field because they lack a market for their work. The risk is that as these potters leave, their centuries-old techniques will disappear. Through a serious collaborative effort the collective seeks to preserve tradition and make a mark on modern design.
The collective sat down for an interview with Juliana Neira of Designboom in November. They were exhibiting work as part of Caravana Americana in Mexico City. Below are portions of that interview. As always, we suggest reading the interview in its entirety here.
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.
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.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.