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Archivo Design and Architecture

Located in the heart of Tacubaya neighborhood, towards the west end of the city, Archivo highlights the importance of good design in everyday objects, architecture and processes as well as their impact on cities they inhabit. An exhibition space dedicated to the research, register and catalogue of the origins and life of daily items was originally conceived as a private collection of 1,500 devices from both historic and contemporary contexts. Founded by the architect Fernando Romero and Soumaya Slim in their personal quest to praise design, the idea for Archivo was conceived in 2008 and was finally inaugurated as an institution in 2012. Initially thought of as a museum of architecture, design and urbanism, it was envisioned as an open collection where the objective was to involve an ample audience rather than the professional guild.1 From international influences, combined with an exploration of Pre-Columbian aesthetics, Archivo aims to uncover the beauty of these everyday objects to the eyes of the greatest amount of beholders. The city’s design legacy does not lie only in the typical Mexican handcrafts, but rather extends to contemporary designs as well.

Fotografía: Yannick Wegner, cortesía Archivo
Fotografía: Yannick Wegner, cortesía Archivo

High standards of operation were imposed and work conditions were not the most favorable as public resources were either unable or unwilling to support a project of this nature. The fact that no other projects of this kind had been proposed before made it difficult to sell to public actors. Instead, the project evolved into a public collection dedicated to the research of experimental displays, complimented with a library catered for the design and architecture community. The founders finally decided to call a spade a spade project and christen the project an Archivo (archive).

Archivo’s designers worked on a narrative that addressed the understanding of design in everyday objects so that these could later bear arms as an introduction to design culture for all audiences.2 The goal of the archive was then to create interest in people that are not attuned with studies in design. With this principle in mind, the archive began their in-depth research on daily objects that were of interesting industrial and popular design; it became a platform for reflecting on the design discipline.

Fotografía: Yannick Wegner, cortesía Archivo
Fotografía: Yannick Wegner, cortesía Archivo

The archive is now an open space with a broad cultural offering of exhibitions and workshops that foment dialogue between the visitors and esoteric design techniques. Rather than aiming to assert its Mexican identity by displaying traditional design, the archive does not shy from contrasting historical context with contemporary design practices. This contrast allows it to delve into the transformation of design culture in Mexico City by presenting a holistic understanding everyday designs.

Archivo has evolved to engage with a wider audience, bringing together the communities of professional practice, academia, activism and youth. The archive represents a place where designers can collaborate and gain a common understanding of the transformative powers of their profession. Today, exhibitions show the transversal influence of design and generate a broader image of the design community by forming collaborations with other designers and accepting external contributions.3 Designers working with the Archivo are given a great amount of freedom to conduct research and experimentation in the archive. Archivo aims to overthrow anachronic portrayals of design by deviating from a mercantilist approach and moving towards highlighting the etymological significance of a design.

Project name Archivo Design and Architecture
Period 2012
Contributor Fernando Romero, Soumaya Slim
Location General Francisco Ramírez 4, Col. Ampliación Daniel Garz, 11840, CDMX
  1. Mario Ballesteros, Interview
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid