What inspired you to begin Colectivo 1050?
Colectivo started in 2009 as a way to show the research and product development effort we were doing in the pottery villages in Oaxaca since 2003, as part of the Innovando la Tradicion project. My partners, Diego Mier y Teran and me, had been attracted to indigenous villages for a long time. We made a promise to ourselves to show the world that crafts and pottery are a source of inspiration to solve the most pressing problems of modern society.
What sets you apart and makes you unique? How do you compete with all of the other ceramic manufacturers in Mexico?
I think that what makes us different is our approach to crafts. The question we asked ourselves wasn’t how design could help crafts, but how can crafts help design? Our methodology for product development is based on upgrading the skills of the artisans, challenging their wisdom and learning from that.
I don't think we compete with others; we complement the rest of the manufacturers here in Oaxaca and in Mexico. But I can say that nobody else is working with artisan potters hand in hand, as true partners. To build up that social capital has taken us 13 years of work. Our approach is unique and difficult to find anywhere else in Mexico. I can humbly say that nobody can compete with us in that field.
Who does all of your design work? Are you open to developing customized work for various clients?
Yes, we are open to customization, but the clients have to comply with our methodologies of participatory design practices. In order to build horizontal relationships and strong cultural products, we have developed some mandatory rules for product development. For example, we don't give answers—we don't design objects on paper and then give those sketches to the artisans. We pose difficult questions and pair designer with artisan to answer each question in collaboration, by making iterations and following our unique methods of designing relationships.
What techniques/materials do you specialize in?
Clay from Oaxaca. There are 70 villages in the whole state of Oaxaca that have accomplished perfection n 35 different production processes of sourcing the local soils, preparing clay, forming the pieces, and sourcing local fuels to fire them. It is a material/technique/art that requires a deep nderstanding of nature and its cycles all year around.
How long have you been exporting?
ur first export sale was in 2012 to MoMa stores in NY and Tokyo. Since then, we’ve exported to other museums in the US and Europ.
Who is your ideal clientele?
Our ideal clientele is a client who understands the value and wisdom of pottery, and who is willing to adjust their systems to embrace it. It could be wholesalers, importers, designers, or retail chains anywhere in the world.
Do you consider yourself to be a brand or supplier or both?
We are a brand. Definitely. We offer beautiful wisdom.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
One of our goals for 2017 is to organize our production better to maintain balance in the villages. The demand is bigger than we can cope with, and we don't want to lower the quality or resort to "employing" artisans. We want to stay small because small is beautiful.
As part of the Innovando la Tradicion project, we will also start a community of knowledge in 2017. This project funnels all our experience in training and research into an educational program of artisans for artisans. We want to scale up and grow as a community of visionaries and warriors of clay tradition! The pilot program will start in August 2017 and we will launch a campaign to raise funds for this project in San Francisco next November 28th at Cala Restaurant. Stay tuned!
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: http://1050grados.com