Design in Mexiko

Where Design Continues to Push Boundaries.

Emily Schlüter and Kirsten Küppers
June 21, 2024

After graduating in Design from Central Saint Martins College, everyone advised Emily Schlüter to stay in London or Europe. They said it was where "the groundbreaking design of our time" was being created. Instead, Emily moved to Mexico City, where she stayed for nearly five years. Why? She believes the approach to design in Mexico is phenomenal. Here, she shares what makes Mexican design so special.

"Whether at a taco stand, on the facades of buildings, or in the subway – in Mexico, you're constantly surrounded by a wealth of impressions. The inspiring influences of different eras and cultures are present everywhere in daily life, blending in the most vibrant combinations. Imperfections are warmly embraced in this mix.

It starts with the houses. With comparably few restrictions, people can realize their wildest dreams and visions. They go all out with wall colors, materials, and shapes. Whether you want to build a Disney-like mini-castle or a modern concrete structure, everything is allowed. This makes each house a unique creation.


The same goes for the lettering on walls and shops. Often, they are handmade by the unsung heroes of the "Rotulo" craft. At the same time people commonly make do with whatever is available. If you only have stickers to label something, you use stickers. The design embraces the joy of improvisation, utilizing it with humor and seeing it as an advantage.

This openness and willingness to experiment can perhaps be traced back to the revolutionary energy of the indigenous population against the once ruling European-oriented class. This energy culminated in 1920, ushering in a period of societal self-discovery and upheaval. Artists at the time revitalized indigenous and pre-colonial visual elements, particularly in prints for magazines and newspapers. The themes were often political, the motifs revolutionary.

Notable artists from this period include Milo Leopoldo Mendez, José Guadalupe Posada, Alberto Beltran, who worked extensively with woodcuts, Francisco de Leon, who advanced book design, and Diego Rivera, famous as a painter (to most europeans known as the husband of Frida Kahlo) and especially known for his "Murales".


Of course, a counter-movement also emerged against this radical break with colonial influences. This trend continued to adhere to classical European aesthetics, experimenting with typography as a powerful means of expression.

Many artists and designers, like Dr. Atl, also designed their own typefaces back then. Common typefaces often came from Europe and were expensive to acquire. For illustrators who were already designing book covers, it was often cheaper to create a suitable typeface themselves, creating a cohesive image that seamlessly integrated text and illustration.

Currently, designers are taking this nostalgia of the last century further. They incorporate elements of past movements and develop them . The elegant play with typography, for example. Today, it exists in a tension between appreciation and questioning of early 20th-century aesthetics, breaking familiar images and recomposing them. Similarly, pre-Hispanic elements like masks and hieroglyphs are used in new contexts to reference the country's rich cultural history.

The latest generation of designers – those who seek edge, who are wild, queer, bold, and digital – grab these cultural fragments, place them in unexpected environments, and take it a step further."


About the Person
Emily Schlüter graduated in Graphic Communication Design from Central Saint Martins College in London before moving to Mexico City for four and a half years. At the design studios Estudio Herrera and Sodio, she worked on projects for clients from both the cultural and business sectors. Since autumn 2023, Emily Schlüter has been part of our design team.

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Emily Schlüter

Kirsten Küppers