Sponsored by Dobel
Sponsored by Dobel

‘A Mix of Order and Chaos’: Three Mexican Creatives Talk Art, Design and Tequila

As Maestro Dobel Artpothecary heads to Frieze Los Angeles, Creative Director Alejandra Martinez talks to Mexico City-based brothers Alexander and Andreas Díaz Andersson

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BY Alejandra Martínez, Alexander Díaz Andersson AND Andreas Díaz Andersson in Collaborations , Frieze Los Angeles , Frieze Week Magazine | 14 FEB 22

As the product of 11 generations of tequila making, Maestro Dobel’s Artpothecary is a platform that showcases Mexico’s long-standing traditions through contemporary creativity. At this year’s Frieze Los Angeles, the Artpothecary presents “The Fruit Chemist,” a bespoke experience in which rare and unusual Mexican fruits will be paired to complement Maestro Dobel’s smooth range of tequilas. For Frieze Week, creative director Alejandra Martinez spoke to a recent Artpothecary collaborator, Alexander Díaz Andersson, the founder of ATRA, and his brother, the painter Andreas Díaz Andersson, both based in Mexico City.

Alejandra Martinez: Maestro Dobel is a brand that is all about heritage, looking to the past to innovate for the future, so I wanted to start by asking about your story: what are your roots and how did they lead you to your respective crafts?
 
Alexander Díaz Andersson: My heritage is Swedish on my father’s side and Mexican on my mother’s side. I grew up in between both countries and spent some school years in Madrid. I think the influence of my roots on my work is about both a sense of perfectionism in the making and one of casualness or freedom in my creative approach.
 
Andreas Díaz Andersson: I was born and raised in a small village in Sweden called Skanör-Falsterbo, before moving to Mexico at about age 16, where I’ve been ever since. It was a big change for me, first living in a village of 5,000 people and then moving to one of the biggest cities in the world. However, it has given me a lot of perspective, opening my eyes and mind in different ways and allowing me to take ideas from these two worlds and merge them. Both countries are renowned for their arts, crafts and design forms, which I have absorbed, every step of the way, since I was a child.
 
Alejandra: What have been the most important influences or revelations on your creative journeys?
 
Alexander: Growing up in Sweden with parents who cared about design and beautiful objects — who, for example, taught us who Hans Wegner was — meant my awareness of design was more of an evolution and education than a groundbreaking revelation. Though, when I was a bit older, seeing a Richard Serra installation at Dia Beacon influenced my aesthetic in ways that I could sense and measure.
 
Andreas: Music is something that has always inspired me. I’m very specific in what I listen to and have a hard time listening to something that I don’t enjoy. In my studio, I always have music on — either something experimental, techno, drone, IDM, breakbeat or other kinds of glitchy electronic music that tickle my senses. When I travel, I always try to go to different festivals where you can experience a mix of amazing music and art in the same space.

Dobel Artpocethary at Design Miami, 2021
Maestro Dobel Artpothecary at Design Miami/, 2021. Courtesy: © ATRA

Alejandra: How has the culture and environment of Mexico influenced and shaped the way you each work?
 
Alexander: My work takes me away quite a bit, but I always come back to my home base, which is Mexico City. It’s this unique ecosystem that I love and miss when I’m away: a mix of order and chaos, of quiet and electricity, ancient civilizations layered with contemporary architecture; it’s ancient but somehow it’s here, alive and tangible.
 
Andreas: For me, as an artist, something as simple as taking a little stroll around downtown Mexico City inspires me to create new pieces and opens my eyes to new and unique materials for these works that I can easily source. Inspiration abounds everywhere. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t need to travel abroad because Mexico is a country that has it all: you can travel around the whole of the country and have this feeling that you are in a different part of the world, because each state is so drastically different from the next. It is so vast and constantly changing.
 
Alejandra: Maestro Dobel Artpothecary champions contemporary Mexican art, design and hospitality, highlighting creative visionaries and their craft in the same way Dobel champions craft and innovation in their range of tequilas. Where does craftsmanship enter your story and how do you work with Mexican craftspeople?

Alexander: Almost all of my production is handcrafted and all of it goes through the hands of expert artisans who I’ve been working with for many years. Some of the techniques I use have been in Mexico long before me, and some I developed with my teams of expert metallurgists, stone carvers and carpenters.

Andreas: Our shared studio in Mexico City is a great source of inspiration for me. Seeing our people, the craftsmen, working and observing them in action every day is a treat. 

Alejandra: It was great to collaborate together on Maestro Dobel Artpothecary at Design Miami/ in December 2021: you selected some wonderful pieces to complement “The Fruit Chemist” experience. Can you tell me about the collection that was featured in the space?
 
Alexander: The Oberon sofa is one of our most popular pieces, it often comes in pristine ivory boucle or woven alpaca but, for the occasion of Maestro Dobel Artpothecary at Design Miami/, I created a more festive version in channeled blue velvet with brass details that add a few more art-deco Miami accents to it.

Alejandra: You also had your own booth within the fair, which won Best in Show! What was the inspiration and vision behind the concept?
 
Alexander: The theme of last year’s Design Miami/ was “Humankind”, which was not a big stretch for us as we always put the consumer at the centre of our thinking. For the occasion, we started thinking about how, with the help of technology, human society could become nomadic, thus imagining the living room of a home as a spaceship, travelling the Earth and beyond. We chose materials that are sustainable. Minerals and metals are the original materials present all over the universe — for us, they represent the future much more than plastics or other unsustainable materials conventionally associated with images of the future.
 
Alejandra: Can you tell me about your plans for ATRA in Los Angeles?
 
Alexander: We have expanded our own ATRA gallery in the Hollywood Hills. ATRA is also represented in design galleries in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, as well as nationally in Chicago, Dallas, Miami and New York. Our interior design and architecture studio is currently developing multiple projects in LA, including two 20,000-square-foot properties in Malibu and Pacific Palisades. We plan on doing more interiors projects where we can create environments and experiences that allow a true engagement with the ATRA brand.

Throughout the year, in LA and beyond, the ATRA team loves to throw cocktail and dinner parties. It’s a fun way to bring friends, family and the arts and design community together.
 
Alejandra: What’s your own relationship to tequila, as an émigré to Mexico?
 
Andreas: When I first arrived in Mexico, drinking tequila was always a way for me to express to my Swedish friends that I was a proud Mexican. With time, I’ve refined my taste for more premium tequilas. It’s something that’s on every Mexican table for every meal with friends or family.
 
Alexander: One aspect of tequila is that it represents that Mexican sense of hospitality and how to throw a proper fiesta. The other aspect is this beautiful tradition, this ancestral process: the artistry of people cultivating agave and the craftsmanship behind the liquid.

Visit Maestro Dobel Artpothecary’s ‘The Fruit Chemist’, featuring fruit-paired tequila tastings, on site at Frieze Los Angeles 2022, every day of the fair.

This article first appeared in Frieze Week, February 2022 under the headline ‘History Here and Now’.

Main image: ATRA presentation at Design Miami/, 2021. Courtesy: © ATRA

Alejandra Martínez is the Founder of Anónimo Colectivo and Creative Director of Maestro Dobel Artpothecary, based in Mexico City, Mexico.

Alexander Díaz Andersson is the Founder and Creative Director of ATRA, based in Mexico City, Mexico

Andreas Díaz Andersson is an artist based in Mexico City, Mexico

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