THE AESTHETICS OF CORN COBS
The story of Fernando Laposse travels from Mexico to London and spreads around the world.
Editor: Yiğit Tuna

Fernando Laposse is a designer born in Mexico and lives in London. He explains the essence of his latest project as follows: “The corn has such an important place in Mexican culture that it is expressed with several different words in the local language. Totomoxtle is how they call the dried outer covering of the corn.”

Through Laposse’s Totomoxtle project, a very aesthetic coating material is produced by using the crust of the corn husk. You can see the Totomoxtle on vases, walls or any type of furniture. The artist doesn’t just ascribe an aesthetic implication to the project. Having seen the corn production dying out, Laposse decided to create an awareness via his own art practice in 2015.

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His pursuit takes him to Tonahuixtla in Mexico where he had spent his summer vacations with his sister during his childhood years. He finds Tonahuixtla no different than he had left it. The place continues its life isolated from the rest of the world, even in the year 2015. And Laposse realizes that he is exactly where the corn will re-emerge in the world.

However, he observes that the local people are not much welcoming towards what’s new. For the project Laposse plans to initiate, the new and local corn seeds should be planted, grown and collected. It takes a while until he could convince the people, yet he makes it, which marks the beginning of the cooperation between Laposse and the Tonahuixtla people. Totomoxtle makes its impression and begins to receive one award after the other as soon as the planning of the project comes out. And life changes for Laposse when he is awarded the Future Food Design Awards (FFDA).

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It would be quite agreeable to think that an internationally awarded designer should move to a larger city. But this is not the case when Laposse who works in London is in question. Loyalty to one’s land is the expression that could perfectly describe Laposse. He becomes even more concerned and interested in his homeland, which he has always been connected to, after the FFDA and moves his studio to Tonahuixtla. The main reason for his moving is the local people in the region who have started and maintained the Totomoxtle.

It is the harvest time in the village from December to February during which Laposse goes out into the fields with the farmers and gathers the colorful corns that will compose the future design of Totomoxtle. He continues his work traveling back and forth between London and Mexico. The most recent works of his have been exhibited in London Design Festival between September 14-22 and they continue their journey in various exhibitions in different parts of the world.

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The project attracts more attention day by day; Seed Bank CIMYYT donates corn seeds to the village and some restaurants supply their need of corn from Tonahuixtla. And Laposse’s story is continued to be told all around the world.

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