Mexico City is abuzz with creativity right now,” says Maria Eladia Hagerman, co-founder of the enticing boutique Onora. “From art and architecture to design, music and food, it is at the forefront of innovation and vision – and an enormous amount of exchange and collaboration is taking place between disciplines.” In a quiet corner of the upmarket neighbourhood of Polanco, Hagerman and her friend and fellow designer Maggie Galton are adding contemporary Mexican craft to this exciting melting pot.
“We liked the idea of creating a whole lifestyle store,” says Hagerman of the space they launched in 2014, “but one that isn’t overly artisanal or folksy, as is so often the case in Mexico.” All their wares – from the delightfully understated bedding (duvet with pillowcases, from $500) combining linen and intricate gauze work, to huipil tunics with Oaxacan embroidery (from $125) – are created in collaboration with artisans while also adhering to the duo’s design-led brief. “We focus on authentic Mexican design, but the pieces are made more minimal for us,” explains Galton.
Thus, the traditionally Mexican riot of colour is largely replaced with the pair’s preferred palette of muted beiges, blacks and greys, displayed to subtle effect alongside indigenous volcanic rock floors and whitewashed walls. “There is a dialogue between the space and the pieces,” says Galton, pointing out the striking wooden shelving system that showcases the duo’s latest discoveries. These might be sublimely simple black lacquer gourds (from $100) lined in gold and copper; brocade pillows (from $100) woven in rural Chiapas with traditional motifs; or richly patterned black and white Talavera pottery (set of three plates and two bowls, $90) from Puebla.
Vibrant pops of colour do, however, make their way into the mix: the shallow, beaded Huichol bowls ($30 each), for example, feature bold patterns in bright mint green, azure blue, yellow and orange as well as black, and the wonderfully soft wool throws ($250), made using locally sourced plant and insect dye, come in hues of indigo and pink. Also adding flair to the otherwise zen environment are one-of-a-kind wall hangings: handwoven, feather-fringed rebozo shawls (from $250) in both earthy shades and bright reds, pinks and turquoises; and vibrant multilayered artworks (from $2,500) by Margarita Cantu crafted from recycled materials.
This alluring, ever-changing inventory unsurprisingly draws an international clientele, from interior designers to Jean Paul Gaultier and Japanese tourists, “whose aesthetic resonates with ours”, says Hagerman. And the duo is always scouting for new artisans to add to this diverse collective; among their recent discoveries are the enormous – some 2m high – ceramic pots (from $100) from Cocucho in a rich red patina, which are lovingly hand-moulded and burnished by Michoacán potters, “who will now have more economic opportunities and alternatives,” says Galton. “We work with communities and family-run workshops in over 10 different states, and since our volume of production is small, people don’t need to sacrifice their crops or participation in village life in order to fulfil our orders. Our mission is to revive dying craft traditions through innovation.”