With this latest interview in our Design Around the World series, we're excited to feature the awesome Anagrama studio located in Mexico City.
It's likely you're already familiar with Anagrama and their branding work. I've personally admired the studio and followed their work for a long time now. So it was an honor to talk with Daniela, creative partner at Anagrama, about the growing design community in Mexico and where it's headed next.
Hey Daniela, let's do this! First, tell us a bit about yourself and your studio. Who is the team behind Anagrama?
We're a multidisciplinary studio with work spread out into three big branches: branding, architecture and interactive. We are eight partners: Sebastian Padilla, Mike Herrera and Gustavo Muñoz. They started the company around 10 years ago. Roberto Treviño, Carolina Ortiz, Roberto Castillo, David Gutierrez and myself joined the partnership later. And there’s more. We are a team around 40 talented creative people with different roles in different areas. We are a big family!
Mexico City was named the sixth World Design Capital in 2018. It seems like Mexico overall has been receiving attention for its design lately, especially architectural design. How did this reputation come about?
I love this fact. Mexico is a country full of culture, colors, aromas, shapes, sounds. Somehow all the diversity that surrounds us is part of our visual growth.
I feel honored that our team is part of the current design movement in Mexico. It’s true to say that something is going on here; there is so much creativity in the air. In the city there are galleries, exhibitions, installations, social media art/design content and murals. I think this might be a response to the current hunger of creative expression.
And wait for more – we keep moving.
Part of Anagrama's branding for Maka, an environmentally-conscious water company with strong Mexican roots.
Does Mexico have a distinct design style? If so, how would you describe it and how does your country’s heritage play into it? Do you have any examples for us?
Well, I believe that a good design project should follow the brief more than its own culture or heritage. If we talk about a project where Mexicanity is part of the brand values, we have good examples in our portfolio. Amado and Maka had Mexicanity as an important message, so we did communicate it through the brand, avoiding clichés.
You work with clients around the world. Did it take any special effort to reach an international audience or did this happen naturally for your studio?
It started naturally since the beginning, but we have plans to expand to the U.S. market. Hope I can share more info about it soon! So excited.
Work for Alfredo Gonzales, a Rotterdam-based brand.
What is design education like in Mexico? I’ve read that the entire Anagrama team attended university. Is this common for designers in Mexico or are many self-taught as well?
Unfortunately there’s so much to do about design education in Mexico. Sadly, politics and corruption have affected the education system. For a lot of people in Mexico it’s a privilege to go to university. We feel grateful to say we all have degrees, but I can say too that there are talented people we have worked with who didn't have a formal education.
We don’t believe it's crucial if a person has enough interest and practice in design and creativity. That said, design education is improving as the creative industry is growing and getting stronger in Mexico.
Anagrama's Lavaderos project for Rosewood Puebla
Why do you think good design is important, and what does good design mean for you at Anagrama? Do you think it has the power to create social change in your country?
Good design communicates efficiently and offers a strong differentiator for brands. These days it’s all about connecting people with products and services — not only for the product or service attributes, but for sharing a philosophy of life, a way of thinking. We believe design and an integrated branding experience is the perfect tool to execute a well planned identity strategy.
And yes, our main goal is to upgrade Mexico’s visual culture.
Anagrama honored yet modernized traditional Mexican motifs for the rebranding of Café la Nacional, a Mexican coffee shop.
In an interview with It’s Nice That last year, Sebastian Padilla said “Many people think Mexico is cheaper, too, and that’s not a good thing for us, because our quality is so high.”
How is your design community overcoming this perception? Is it just a matter of educating clients and continuing to put out great work?
I can say times are changing and much has improved since then. But the truth is we keep working on to change that mindset. Hopefully we are closer now.
Anagrama's reimagined Mexican coat of arms for Cafe La Nacional.
In your opinion, what are the top creative agencies / design studios from Mexico that everyone should know?
And now to our last question: How can all designers and design communities from other countries do a better job of communicating with each other? How can we become more engaged with the Mexican design community? Are there any blogs or specific magazines we can follow?
Daniela, thanks so much for sharing your experience and thoughts with us. It's clear this is an exciting time for design in Mexico and we can't wait to see more from your creative community.
Friends, be sure to check out Anagrama's latest projects as well as the excellent resources Daniela shared with us. And if you're just joining us in the series, there's lots to learn from the design communities in Nigeria, India, Brazil, Pakistan and more. Catch up here.