The general worldwide view about Mexican craftwork has little to do with the new products that emerging designers are creating within the country itself.
The strong colours of many of the pieces, the close existing relationship with ancestral traditions that still live on the country’s culture and a lack of knowledge about the latest developments brewing in this part of the world, creates a distorted and unreal view that is changing thanks to people such as David Ponga.
This young designer, born to a Mexican father and Austrian mother, is one of the strongest and most interesting figures currently exporting the country’s craft designs and someone that is consciously working to change perspectives.
The end product is not of such great importance, it is more about developing an idea, material or craft. The fundamental thing is to create a product for consumers.
Educated in Austria and the British capital, Ponga, aged just 30, committed from the outset to a style and production process where the brand’s identity was clearly influenced by his Hispanic side. A trip to Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico, saw him discover materials and an original style of pottery, which has been vital to the development of his brand. However, the key to many of his products resides in the fact that they are objects and pieces of furniture that have been designed with the consumer in mind, the recipient who ultimately appreciates the value of the work and the enterprise in each of the products that bears his hallmark.
For three years, David Ponga has had his own studio in the Aztec capital (it opened after the one in Austria) and the ideas and products developed are the result of general agreement between both offices, a peculiarity that enriches the end product.
1. Thanks to his parents he has been lucky to be able to take inspiration from two very different cultures, but judging from his products, his Mexican side impacts most strongly. Was it something conscious?
I don’t straddle two cultures. The brand has been completely Mexican from its outset, however I have both backgrounds in my head and they are present in the study. However, the identity of the products as well as the brand has always been Mexican.
2. Your brand commits to handicraft work. It that a bonus for your products?
Working with Mexican crafts has been an essential part of the brand from the beginning. The project arose out of a trip to Oaxaca, where I got the chance to discover black mud and I decided that I wanted to create something new with it.
3. You make furniture, ceramics, lights… What discipline do you feel most comfortable with?
The end product is not of such great importance, it is more about developing an idea, material or craft. The fundamental thing is to create a product for consumers. As a designer, the category is not important, it is about the target or essence you have.
4. How many people work for your studio?
Between both countries, about 15 people.
5. What is the creative process like?
Design always begins with a material; from there, we analyse its characteristics and peculiarities. We aim to change perceptions of it in order to obtain a contemporary product that can be used in different spaces.
6. Is the entire production process artisanal?
All of the products are made by hand in Mexico by communities, craftsmen and traditional companies. There are also certain technical parts, like LED panels, which are imported.
7. How does your European education manifest itself in such handcrafted work?
Ultimately, it is not just about my education; the experiences and trips in my life also contribute to the design process. However, my education in Austria and London, which was quite technical and philosophical, also plays an important role.
8. So you manage the production process for each of the David Ponga pieces?
We are a small office and we are all involved, from the initial idea to how to photograph each piece. There is a lot of communication between everyone.
9. Your company has grown a lot in a short amount of time and positioned itself really well; is that down to luck or hard work?
I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in exact timing. It has been the result of taking the correct steps, having the right collaborators, but there is still a long way to go. We need to show the world the great beauty of Mexican craftwork.
10. Where would you like to take your brand?
The future is about achieving greater global recognition in order to really emerge on the international market.
Photos: Studio David Pompa www.davidpompa.com