As online design emporium Revolution of Forms opens a Shoreditch pop-up selling hand-crafted Mexican homewares, Design Anthology UK spoke to its founder, Raffaella Goffredi, about ancient traditions translated into contemporary design
DESIGN ANTHOLOGY: Why did you set up Revolution of Forms?
RAFFAELLA GOFFREDI: I have been passionate about design and handmade objects for a long time, both personally and professionally. After leaving my previous job as a specialist in the design department at Christie’s, where I had the privilege of handling some amazing objects and furniture, I decided to take a break and went travelling with my partner. During an inspirational visit to Mexico, we met with craftsmen and designers using traditional methods to create beautiful objects with a contemporary aesthetic.
When I subsequently decided to start a project where my passion and eye for design are combined with sustainability and ethical principles, I felt these objects were the perfect fit. The level of innovation, respect for the natural world, a deep understanding of materials and techniques, were all elements that I wanted to express through Revolution of Forms. I feel passionate about giving exposure and providing opportunities to artisans and contemporary designers looking to make an impact.
DA: People might have a fixed idea about what Mexican homewares look like – is there anything that would surprise them from Revolution of Forms?
RG: One of the main comments I receive when people see the collection is that it isn’t what they expected from Mexican homeware. In particular, I selected a lot of black and white pieces, from dining ware to baskets, and this is not something people expect to see. Most people think of Mexico as bright, bold colours and pieces that might not look right in an interior in London or Milan, so I hope they will be surprised.
Aside from the style, I think people will be interested in the stories behind the techniques, forms and materials. To me, learning about how objects are made, and how ancient traditions are translated successfully in beautiful contemporary objects, is key.
Most people think of Mexico as bright, bold colours and pieces that might not look right in an interior in London or Milan, so I hope they will be surprised
DA: What can we expect from the pop-up (on until 27 June 2021)?
RG: Since we launched in March 2020, the global pandemic has restricted our ability to take the shop offline and I am delighted to finally invite people to explore our collection in person. The quality and texture of handmade objects is hard to translate online, so people should expect to get a feel for the amazing craftsmanship behind each design.
The pop up is hosted in a beautiful Grade-II listed building, the Clerk’s House, in Shoreditch, which is a great venue to present the collection. The pieces are mixed together, with table settings, and a display of ceramics and textiles throughout the building.
DA: What are some of your favourite new pieces that you’ll be showing?
RG: I am excited to present, for the first time, tableware by Mestiz, a brand founded in 2015 by Daniel Valero, a Mexican architect and designer, with the desire to create stimulating pieces with a strong regional identity. Daniel is at the front of a new wave of designers in Mexico working with local artisans to create incredible objects such as colour-blocked freeform wool rugs, glazed ceramics and wicker ceiling shades. The collection comprises cobalt blue and deep orange plates, jugs and vases, all inspired by the colours and architecture of San Miguel de Allende, where Daniel is based.
I am also presenting a collection by Colorindio, which is the result of a collaboration with weavers’ communities in Chiapas, providing a steady income for more than 150 women. Cushion covers, runners, throws and placemats are all woven at the backstrap loom, a tool used in Chiapas for 4,000 years.
DA: Is there anything that hangs all the products together, beyond them all being sourced from the same country?
RG: I have four essential guiding principles: handmade, ethical, sustainable and accountability.
Each object has to be handcrafted, respecting the work of the artisans and providing a living wage and opportunities for the makers to sustain their life in good, safe working conditions. I look for pieces that do not harm the environment and that seek to reduce their energy consumption and the impact of waste. And finally, I look to work with designers that are transparent about their processes. I strive to know not only the details of how they work, but also where the materials come from, and in which way natural resources are used etc.
Ultimately I believe that finding simple ways to combine a conscious lifestyle and a passion for design should be easy. Home is a precious space and we should consider living with meaningful objects that express our values, so I tried to curate a collection according to these principles.
DA: Seeking out truly ethical products can be hard – do you have any advice for consumers about what to look for/what questions to ask?
RG: Consumers are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally and ethically conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy. However, the lack of access to supply chain information is a huge problem and if you are interested in gaining more information about objects or garments, beyond which country they are made in, it’s virtually impossible.
The way we are trying to address this problem is to provide full provenance for each object. When you buy from us you receive a provenance sheet with details of your order, in most cases down to the name of the artisans that made it. Should you wish to know more about the objects when you shop online from us, all the information is provided for each piece on the website upfront.
However, I strongly believe we need to promote change at policy level, as citizens first and foremost, rather than as consumers demanding transparency from each brand. Sadly, until these structural changes are in place, the only advice I have is do your own research. Ask questions, buy from small independent brands, and try to be mindful of impulse purchases. If you don’t feel the brand is giving you enough information, then decide if this is a shop you want to support or not.