As Fernando Laposse returned to his village in Mexico, a sense of nostalgia washed over him. His pilgrimage was prompted by a design project requiring a specific material–maize leaves that he remembered once thrived in the mountains around Tonahuixtla. He was heartbroken when he arrived to discover that the staple corn crop had disappeared, depriving the villagers of sustenance and disrupting a way of life that held deep meaning for him.
Born in France but raised by Mexican parents, a painter and a baker, it was natural for Laposse to connect art and food. The Central Saint Martins alum (University of the Arts London) was inspired to use his product designer training to preserve the indigenous craft and traditions intrinsically linked to materials. “When you discover the history of a material,” he says, “you also begin to understand socio-economic and trade histories, the power dynamics, and so on.”
Opening this week, Ghosts of Our Towns takes us on a multi-media journey of disruption and hope by way of the Mexican agriculture system. Laposse’s first solo exhibition at the Friedman Benda in New York features evocative installations, shining a light on often overlooked natural contributors to our material world. The exhibition is a stunning affirmation of the positive impact of sustainability in design.