From Huitzilac, Morelos
Huitzilac, Morelos. A small town 60 kilometers away from Mexico City, which has a rustic furniture industry. In October 2015, Moisés Hernández set a collaborative exhibition. The point of it was to generate a dialogue between Swiss design and everyday Mexican objects.
One of the objects selected was a stool. The swiss one was made for a Japanese company that uses Japanese oak, a small tree that commonly ends up as paper pulp. The Mexican one was produced rustically in the forest.
Because of this exhibition, Diario travelled to Huitzilac, where I met Mr. Rodolfo who’s 78 years old and has been in the business since he was a kid.
Mr. Rodolfo has four sons and just one of theme is also a carpenter and helps him to do the hard work like cutting big blocks of wood, carrying supplies, tools and furnitures. The character of their products is really interesting and unique. This is why they have domestic and international clients.
Huitzilac is surrounded by oak and pine forest, this makes easier for the craftsmen to get raw material. This is why there’s around ten traditional carpentry workshops in town, although it has decreased in the last years.
The kind of furniture they manufacture the most are sofas, beds, bookshelves, cabinets, chairs and stools. What caught my attention was the fact that the legs of almost all the furnitures were made out of branches that the carpenters find in the woods or are given to them for free by the sawmills. Then craftsmen take the crust off with a sickle. This was the key detail that made me decide to rethink the stool focusing on highlighting this human gesture of making.
Rodolfo, in his workshop, chop the branches to the desired length. Then he take away the tree’s crust with a sickle to have a softer texture. Diario decided to highlight this gesture because we think it is somehow the signature of the craftsman and the typology of the region. So the legs are painted with basic colors and then the carpenter takes off some of the paint revealing the natural color of the wood. This gives an added value to every stool because each one is different to the others.