After a little over a year of living in Mexico City, I can say there is one area where the city really shines: markets. There of course are a wealth of traditional markets, such as the famed Mercado de San Juan, or the Mercado de Jamaica, where one can find every kind of flower that possibly exists in Mexico. And then there are the more modern kinds, which are typically called lonja or bazaar.
One such a market is La Lonja MX. The weekend of 12-13 december, La Lonja MX celebrated the end of the year and its 5-year existence in all its glory with a bazaar that showcased the works of over a 120 exhibitors of clothes, design, music, books, furniture, jewellery and last but not least, a mouthwatering selection of drinks (the always-present mezcal, but also cocktails and artisanal beers) and a number of diverse foodstalls. All made in Mexico, as highlighted by the use of the slogan #YoComproMexicano.
Mexican design has lately experienced somewhat of a comeback, with locals taking increasing pride in their heritage, as well as emphasized promotion of the designs of young creatives. La Lonja MX is such a platform: it takes a fresh approach to kickstarting the careers of young Mexican designers, by offering them the space necessary to display their innovative designs. The lonja‘s organisors seem to succeed in their aim. As one friend pointed out, savvy local entrepreneurs and designers indeed are very much aware of the potential impact exhibiting their products at La Lonja MX can have on their brand’s future success.
Having visited a fair amount of bazaars and markets in Mexico, I can assure you that this one is different. The designs exhibited have been carefully selected by the organisation behind the event, and this has two important effects. The bracelets, skincare products, lingerie, and pillows on display are almost without exception of great craftmanship, rich in details and made out of beautiful, high-quality materials. That all this comes at a high pricetag is – almost – forgiven. Additionally, the space where the event was held was wonderfully decorated, to the finest detail.
I came across many interesting objects, ranging from designs by current students of the CENTRO design school, over daring dessous, to very hipster graphic design pieces, but also traditional handicrafts sold by indigenous women. This is what I love so much about Mexico: that regardless of how hipster, modern or exclusive the event is, there almost always are touches of the original culture to be found, be it the food served, the design details, or the music played.
Among all these appeals to my senses, I did nevertheless find a few brands that in my opinion stood out. One of those was Bacalar Ukeleles, a young brand that produces 100% Mexican ukeleles, each made by hand and out of walnut-coloured and red cedar wood. By naming the brand Bacalar, after the turquoise-water lagoon of the Riviera Maya, the brand aims at honouring the Hawaian origins of the instrument by naming it after a beach (lagoon?) (Facebook: bacalaruke, IG: @bacalar_uke).
Then there was Hua (@hualingerie), which is a sensual yet very different lingerie brand for the contemporary woman, and the Mexican culture-inspired kitchen staples from Hilo y Barro. Another brand that to me really stood out was CORAMODI, which, besides having a lovely owner and almost affordable prices, sells absolutely wonderful textile products. The owner explained me that they work together with a lady that lives in Hidalgo, the state where the textiles originate from, which makes every single piece by hand. CORAMODI‘s designs, which fuse traditional Mexican art with high-quality sewing techniques, have already won several prestigious prices.
After browsing for a good hour, I came across a few items that I thought would make nice christmas presents – which I obviously bought at the very last minute – hence making me feel extremely fulfilled upon leaving the bazaar (insert wink smiley here). The above, coupled with an exceptionally fashion-conscious and interesting public, made for a very well-spent afternoon.
If you do not want to miss out on La Lonja MX’s next edition, be sure to check the following links:
© All text and pictures by Alexandra Brandt Corstius