THE POETRY OF PROVENANCE
The architectural designs of Mexican ceramicist Perla Valtierra share the stories of her land, offering an homage to home. We sit down with Perla to explore the importance of origins in her creations.
Can you share the guiding inspiration behind your work?
I wish to instill an awareness of how objects are made. I seek to bring a closer connection to the value and uses of daily objects; and to encourage mindful consumption through selecting pieces that have stories to tell.
How did your focus on traditional craft emerge?
I studied industrial design, and since graduating, I've been drawn to traditional craft as an antithesis to the mass-commoditization of objects.
You work with natural clay – what makes this material so special?
Clay is fascinating. It is a material with endless possibilities. I’m especially drawn to unique local Bajío clays for the stories they tell about the land. It's also a way to maintain traditional craft heritage, while bringing it forward through distinct designs.
What muses or forms of art inspire your work?
I lived in Japan for a year and became intrigued by the concept of Mingei, a movement honoring functional craft as art, which came about in the 1920s as a philosophical and aesthetic reaction to Japan’s rapid industrialization. I found many similarities between craft cultures in Japan and Mexico, and the movement gives me a framework to think about how we can honor craftwork in my country.
Japanese craft is also highly sophisticated. While in Japan, I researched technologies and techniques to use at home in Mexico, and we now achieve higher firing glazes and clays.
Clay is fascinating. It is a material with endless possibilities. I’m especially drawn to local Bajío clays for the stories they tell about the land.
What role does sustainability play in your work?
We use local clays and make a limited number of unique pieces each season, seeking to minimize waste and transport. It’s also very important to me to support cultural heritage by bringing awareness and work to local craft communities, while also pushing this forward through cultural exchange and using these skills to create new products or products with new uses.
What is a daily ritual that you find relaxation in?
I love candles for the sensory pleasures of light and scent. I’m also beginning chi Kung (Qigong), a holistic method of posture, movement and breathing to support balance.
What are your favorite scents in nature?
There are so many. The soft, delicate sweetness of rose. The sharp scent of pine trees from deep in the woods. The chest-opening aroma of eucalyptus trees (eucalyptus oil is forever in my air purifier).
You live in Mexico City. What is something special about the city?
The purple jacaranda trees in full bloom. They paint entire neighborhoods with their bold beauty.
As you know, Poetica designs aromatic rituals for daily life, including garment care. So we'd love to know - what fabrics do you naturally gravitate towards?
Silk, cotton, and cashmere. I feel most at home in natural materials, from the clay in my hands to the fabrics cloaking me.
How do you care for special pieces you love?
I hand wash garments and lay them outside in the shade to dry. Since moving back to Mexico, many of my home routines – including garment care – have become easier, and more enjoyable, thanks to the warm weather.
Follow Perla Valtierra's work here. Photos 1 & 2: Ana Lorenzana. Photo 3: Alana Burns.