VIDIVIXI Have Us Wondering: Is Everyone Cool Moving to Mexico City?
It’s a common journalistic trope to anoint cities “the new Brooklyn,” but what do you call it when a place suddenly begins to pull creative people from all over the world into its orbit? In the past few years, we’ve had friends from Berlin, London, New Jersey, Joshua Tree, Spain, Los Angeles, and, yes, Brooklyn pick up and move to Mexico City; the latest is Mark Grattan, a Pratt grad who founded his firm VIDIVIXI in 2014 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, but who moved to Mexico City now more than two years ago. We met Mark briefly during his time in New York, but based on the sophistication of the new collection VIDIVIXI debuted this week, we’re now dying to get to know him a bit better.
The centerpiece of the collection is a bed — the third Grattan has designed — whose channel-tufted cotton weave upholstery wraps around a walnut frame and continues halfway underneath, so that the bed begins to resemble an impossibly chic animal resting on its haunches. Another favorite is the Café Con Leche table, made from 8 interlocking, U-shaped pieces of wood and topped with a rounded piece of bronze glass. We recently spoke with Grattan about how Mexico has widened his world — including introducing him to new studio partner Adam Caplowe — and redefined the scope of his practice.
INSTALLATION PHOTOS BY PIA RIVEROLA / PRODUCT PHOTOS BY JORGE ABUXAPQUI
We first met (or maybe just chatted over email?) when you lived in New York City. I knew you had fallen off the radar a bit, but I didn’t realize you had relocated to Mexico City. Can you tell me what led you there, and how your work has changed since moving?
What lead me to Mexico was more organic than organized. I had left my Brooklyn wood shop in Industry City in January 2016 to begin outsourcing all of my production. I wanted to grow. My instincts told me I needed to spend time on the streets, giving myself more time to focus on people and on design education, rather than on the size of a router bit. During this moment of transition, my current boyfriend walked into my life. I decided to take a month away from my Bed-Stuy apartment and spend some time with this new person while working remotely from Mexico for my New York clients. I started introducing myself to the design industry here — producers, designers, and architects. One month turned into three months, turned into six months, turned into two years.
Two years ago, I also met Adam Caplowe at a mutual friend’s opening in El Centro, Mexico City. My new partner in VIDIVIXI, he’s originally from London, but his family on his mother’s side is from Mexico. After a brief stay, he moved to Mexico to get to know the city where his mother was raised.
I believe the new work has elevated quite a bit. Mexico allows you time — the time to develop and focus. However easily distracting it can be, it really allowed the design process and development to take its course without the pressure of success or rent. I feel isolated in the best possible way, like a full time artists’ residency. The work is much more mature, elaborate, and thoughtful.
What specifically inspired this collection? Were you focused more on forms here or materials?
Mexico inspired this collection, and also home (i.e. New York). In regards to Mexico, the architecture is beautiful in every way. Lots of Art Deco on the outsides of buildings following its way into the interiors of apartments and houses. Vintage mid-century furniture is discoverable in the majority of people’s homes (not just the rich homes), flea markets, etc. I’ve never seen such beautiful objects around every corner. In regards to New York, VIDIVIXI spent a lot of time observing what was happening in New York and other design capitals. It’s always been important for VIDIVIXI to create objects that stand the test of time, rather than latching onto a trend or fad.
Form was a main focus of this body of work. Everything is monochromatic, which can be helpful in focusing on silhouettes and proportions. Old VIDIVIXI does resonate throughout this new collection: graphic, masculine, with a hint of sex.
I would swear you had a bed that I really loved before this one (though I can’t find photographic evidence of it). Is there something about the bed that interests you? It’s not an archetype that most designers attempt.
That’s a great question. I don’t particularly like beds, but I do believe there is a lack of beautiful bedroom furniture on the market. The planet needs more beautiful beds! Maybe it’s a calling. This will be the third bed VIDIVIXI has designed. (Have a look through @markgrattan. You will find those previous designs).
Can you tell me a little bit more about the photoshoot and where it took place?
As part of the campaign launch for the AW18 we outfitted a Profirio Diaz style Mansion that dates back to the 19th Century located in Roma Norte, Mexico City. VIDIVIXI designed three rooms to convey a story that linked together the body of work. The props in the space were meant to communicate as if the inhabitant had JUST left the room (unmade bed and red stilettos in bedroom; wine glass, woman’s scarf, sunglasses, and used tissues in the dining room; half glass of milk, open bird cage and children’s toys in the dining room)
The mirrored floor in the bedroom was intended to reflect the color of the walls and lift the bed from the ground. Adding the reflective side tables and table lamps were great compliments to the space. Everything disappeared but the bed.