Adrian Marfil together with Juan Garcia in 2013 understood the importance of traditional metalworking in the area of Monterrey, giving it a contemporary twist, they founded Los Patrones, one of the emerging furniture producer in Mexico. Adrian hosted me a couple of days to follow the production of the chair, showing me around a new area of Mexico for me.
Matteo: Hola carnal!
Adrian: Hola Matteo!
M:You did study in Mexico and in Barcelona right? how do you think this affects your work today?
A: I did study both in Mexico (CEDIM) and Spain (IED BCN). I believe that in general, the work designers make is completely related to their experience, context and worldviews. I think that my time in Europe made me realize how many opportunities we have in Mexico, being a manufacturing country there are a lot of things going on, especially in Monterrey, which is one of the industrial centres of Mexico. One of the things that struck me the most while living outside of Mexico was that I didn’t give enough value to what we have in our country, it took me some time living and working away from home to see things in a different light.
“Europe made me realize how many opportunities we have in Mexico...”
M: How did Los Patrones were born? Can you explain us a bit the story behind? You and Juan have two different backgrounds but seems you are completely matching.
A: While I was still in BCN, one summer I came back and went to my best friend’s house to visit and Juan used to be his neighbour. So one day we started talking about what we did for a living and at the time I was still studying product design in Barcelona and when I told him this, he just responded with "well, I work in a factory and we build products" and that is how we first got to know each other. The name Los Patrones is a tribute to the generation that came and worked before us and built the factory where we now work since without them this project wouldn’t be possible.
M: Once I visited the factory I understood the process and is much more manual than I was expecting. Ana Elena Mallet during the event at Archivo defined your work in the category "neo-artisanal". Do you think it's a good definition in which Los Patrones can be included?
A: Yeah, I think a lot of the things we build could be considered in the artisanal field but still, we have a lot of the industrial process and quality control that remain from years of manufacturing for other companies, so in a way, the term neo-artisanal applies very well.
M: You were mentioning that in Mexico there is a gap between the industry and the designers, how is Los Patrones solving this problem?
“industry doesn’t care about designers, being a manufacturing country the industry is accustomed to getting the plans from somewhere..”
A: We are trying to be part of the few manufacturing companies in Mexico that are design-driven, that means we value the work of designers and also working with them is part of how we do things, that in itself I believe is a great step towards closing the gap between designers and industry. One of the main problems designers have in Mexico is that the industry doesn’t care about designers, being a manufacturing country the industry is accustomed to getting the plans from somewhere else and usually only care about their bottom line. The factory used to be like this a few years ago and with Los Patrones we’ve been able to make a slow transformation from only manufacturing to also believing in design and creating value for the Mexican market. In that aspect, Los Patrones is trying to prove that there is a way that the industry and design in Mexico can work and grow together...
M: Do you think that Mexican design is ready to enter the international market as how it is now?
A: I think there are a few exceptions but as a whole I think we are still in desperate need of support from our local industry, I believe that we have the talent but it needs to meet with the muscle and when we do that we’ll be able to first create a healthy national market that could easily grow to other places. This doesn’t mean that Mexico is not exporting to other countries, we do but it’s usually on the artisanal or replicas level not on the design level, so I do believe that it’s a matter of time before the business people find out that Mexican design is a good bet.
M: You are one of the few Mexican Design Brands that is focusing on the Mexican Market right? How fast do you think is this market growing?
A: I think that in Mexico there aren’t that many design brands and a lot of them are focusing on the high-end markets which do not represent most of Mexico. We do work with these type of clients, but also work a lot outside of the design circuits, there’s a lot of people that work with us solely because of our competitive prices, people that might have bought a replica or some cheap typical-restaurant furniture come to us and can buy Bueno, bonito y barato! (good quality, good looking and good price).
“in Mexico there aren’t that many design brands and a lot of them are focusing on the high-end markets..”