The Mexican Studio Reinventing Everyday Objects
Before starting Algo Studio, Diego Garza worked as an architect and ran a small restaurant, all the while feeling as if he was on the wrong path. He’d consistently sketch ideas for lamps or furniture but often became frustrated not knowing how to manufacture them on his own. He decided to make a career change and applied to RISD to pursue an MFA in Furniture Design. “During my time there, I fell in love with fabrication,” he says. He returned to Monterrey, Mexico, in 2016 with his newly acquired skills, and started from scratch, making countless cardboard and 3D models, iterating his designs to get them right. This practice eventually became Algo Studio in 2019, which Diego describes as an active creative laboratory for design objects, furniture, and lighting with the aim to release new pieces often, in small batches or limited editions.
Algo Studio’s products — made from ceramics, cast concrete, resin, or terrazzo they fabricate themselves — are everyday objects that Diego has thoughtfully reimagined with their ultimate function in mind. The results are attractive and original pieces in unusual shapes and commanding colors. “I’m trying to subvert or alter a little bit whatever is expected in an object; to mix familiarity with a bit of un-familiarity,” he says.
One of the first things he designed was a ceramic beer mug which keeps brew extra cold. He wanted to give it the most comfortable and ergonomic handle possible so he looked to briefcases for inspiration. “I think I was trying to make something that strayed a bit away from the normal but that at the same time had very normal qualities,” he says. After 3D printing several options to find the best feel he landed on the current chunky handle with good space and grip and the beer mug became a success.
Besides their clever reiterations, what stands out about Algo Studio pieces are their warm textures and deliberate colors. While his pieces are contemporary, they also feel time-honored. “I think textured surfaces express that time has passed,” Diego says, “I feel like it’s the opposite of shiny new. I occasionally like flat glossy surfaces, but textured surfaces bring richness, depth and expressiveness to the work. It brings character to otherwise simple shapes.” Whether deep blue, pumpkin orange or green-green, color is a great interest of Diego’s. “I want to make things for people who also enjoy a splash of color in their life,” he says, “One of my personal goals for the coming pieces this year is to be braver and more creative using it.”
Everything Diego designs is manufactured by himself, an assistant and interns in a small studio divided into various areas; a clean room where they pack orders, apply certain finishes and do computer work and workshop areas where things get dusty, noisy and wet, where every wall is covered with tools and jigs. Eventually there’ll also be a dedicated section for ceramics, to experiment with the versatility of the material in small batch items.
Lately, Diego has been inspired by Neolithic cultures. “There is something magical about archaic human material efforts,” he says. “In a way I feel an artisan connection to the men and women who made those items thousands of years ago.” In the same way that these unearthed pieces make us think of who used them before, Diego often wonders about where his pieces end up. He hopes they’re adding good vibes to the places they live in now. He recently spotted one of his ashtrays in an artist’s Instagram story, amid the creative mess in his studio. “It made my day.”