"Mexico City rocks. The level of creativity is stunning, and the freedom with which people can create here is a huge change from NYC, where struggle is part of most artist's/designer's lives. "
"the store reflects a postmodern mix of references, also including Olivia Newton John's Physical video, Japanese boutique design (especially Bape and Billionaire Boy's Club,) 70's gay disco, and also retro American jewelry story and office lobby design." - Tony Moxham, DFC
artesanía (=arte) "craftmanship"
Last month when I was in Mexico City walking through the Colonia Roma on a on an overcast afternoon, I saw from across the street a small store glowing. Mirrored boxes with panels reflecting light, objects in cubes stacked to the ceiling, fluorescent light escaping into the street. Immediately I knew this was DFC, a store many friends in Los Angeles told me I should seek out. Tony Moxham and Mauricio Paniagua, the two men behind DFC, are "dedicated to the marrying of traditional Mexican techniques and styles with modern design to create objects for home and commercial projects." I asked Tony Moxham some questions about his project, the future of DFC, and Mexico City, a city that I will return in the very near future. - David John
Where did the idea for DFC originate?
Tony Moxham: DFC was created when my BF, Mauricio Paniagua, and I moved from NYC to Mexico City in 2005. While creating our new home here, we discovered we were unhappy with a lot of design we could find, and also at the same time were discovering the wealth of Mexican artisanal talent , so we decided to deal with the situation by creating DFC, which stands for DFCasa.
D.F is el Distrito Federal, of Mexico City as it is known here. Casa means house. We had both lived in NYC for around 14 years previously, and were more than ready to sell a house we had renovated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and start something new somewhere new.
How do you find new artisans to work with for the products of DFC? How do the artisans respond to making such contemporary works?
Tony Moxham: All DFC designs, aside from our wall coverings (which are created with Brooklyn based Flavor paper) are 100% hand made in Mexico. From the start—especially as Mexican aliens wanting to prove ourselves in our new home—it was important to work locally and with Mexican culture and history. We had the pleasure of being able to travel extensively when we first arrived to Mexico, and this was the basis of our first contact with artisans. Since then, we have built a small team of trusted and awesomely talented folks we work with on a regular basis.
For new projects we often travel to specific hot-spots for a given technique and then seek out the best in their field, as it's not true that all artisans are talented! From our experience it's important to work with a team that is not only technically skilled, but also interested in learning and change at the same time as preserving skills and techniques already learnt. Many artisans we encounter are very close-minded, uninterested in new projects, and in many case unable to comprehend change, though it's a mistake to view this as laziness. We believe that for artesania itself to evolve, the people who create it also must. To this effect, we also strive to introduce artisans working in different techniques to each other's work, and often create projects that combine the work of artisans in different fields.
For those that have not been to Mexico City, can you talk about the current state of the city?
Tony Moxham: Mexico City rocks. The level of creativity is stunning, and the freedom with which people can create here is a huge change from NYC, where struggle is part of most artist's or designer's lives. Historically, Mexico boasts more than its fair share of artists, writers, designers, and architects in comparison to most other countries in Latin America, and we believe that is still the case today. What we really love most though is the lack of competition between creatives working in similar fields. It's very refreshing, especially coming from NYC and it's art/fashion/magazine worlds. Almost all of our friends here work in different creative fields, and their own projects frequently cross-over. The art and design scenes here especially are fantastic right now, we believe in part due to this friendly cross-polination. And of course, the food and fun here in Mexico City is legendary.
Who designs the works for DFC?
Tony Moxham: All DFC designs are a collaboration between Mauricio and myself. From time to time we also bring in contemporary artists to work with, especially for projects that involve illustration. Depending on the project, designs take anywhere from a coupe of weeks to over a year to actually reach a point where we can sell them. For ceramics, there is a model and mold process that is time consuming. For other projects simply researching and developing idea can take months. We work more closely to the rhythms of the fashion world to that of the design industry, so things tend to be timed for Spring or Fall release.
The design of the store is truly beyond . A backroom disco-tech. Who worked on this design, and what was the guiding force for the space?
Tony Moxham: The store was created by Mauricio, myself, and Marcos Ruiz, DFC's third partner, and one of Mexico's most important emerging art collectors a business mavericks. We were all obsessed with the cave-like and fascist design of Diego Rivera's Anahuacalli Museum, and so sought to take this feeling and futurize it.
As with many DFC designs, the store reflects a postmodern mix of references, also including Olivia Newton John's Physical video, Japanese boutique design (especially Bape and Billionaire Boy's Club,) 70's gay disco, and also retro American jewelry story and office lobby design.
the store window of DFC, photography by David John
The future for DFC?
Tony Moxham: You'll hopefully be able shop at a DFC store in NYC in the not too distant future. As with all things DFC, we're working hard and planning big :)
How was Zona Maco for DFC?
Tony Moxham: Zona MACO was a fantastic success for the brand, especially in regard to audience response. By positioning our design work at the edges of the art world, we have created a niche that seems to be working awesomely for us. More recently when we attempted to show our work within a design or retail context, client responses ranged from visual confusion to anger at our price-points and no willingness to understand the complex hand-made and complicated processes we work with, especially from gluttonous American retailers and customers more used to high-run disposable design mass-produced in China or India (We now sell our Mexican-made designs at Lane Crawford, one of china's highest end boutiques.) Art buyers are not only interested and open-minded . . . they also have money.
go to DFC's site here.
DFC: Colima 124D, Col. Roma. Tel: 55 5533 5339
(photography by David John)