Alchemy of Minerals and Fire. The Beguiling Simplicity of Ceramics
Ceramics are an under appreciated part of our daily lives. The best ceramics are life affirming and enhancing. They bring together aesthetics and function with a simplicity that belies their origin. Marvilla ceramics are certainly all of that. They are pared back without being ascetic. Modern whilst respecting history. We spoke with the founder of the company, Mariana Villa, to get a better idea of how Marvilla came to be.
I love the simplicity of your products. Have you always been drawn to simple things? Often they are more difficult to make because of their simplicity. Is this something you find?
In many aspects of my life I work to keep things simple.
I like simplicity and the feeling that things are the way they have to be and no more.
Where does the name Marvilla come from?
My name is Mariana Villa.
Mar means sea and Villa means town, but it’s also almost the word in Spanish maravilla, which means wonderful.
«I love the way different glazing can transform the same piece and the alchemy of so many minerals on fire to make this skin of colored glass.»
I noticed a chopstick holder within your collection too! What cultures do you draw from and why do they resonate with you? CDMX felt like such a multicultural place when I was there!
My parents worked in the National Institution of Anthropology and History so I grew up in the museums of México City and Quéretaro. I find in the artifacts of ancestral cultures the greatest simplicity and functionality, yet still holding space for ornament and ritual.
Where are your products made? Is it important to have your production close to you? I think it’s important to be close to the process, understand it and design for it.
We make most of the pieces with a workshop in Mexico City, which makes things easy to follow very closely. Now we are also working on the new collection with a workshop in Guanajuato, near where I grew up. We are not that close to them since I’m based in Mexico City, however we know the process very well and we also have a ceramic lab where I do tests and prototypes on the wheel before production.
«I believe that in order to preserve our roots we need to innovate and keep creative.»
The colour palette of your collection has some bold colours that other brands might not replicate. Is colour something that you love?
I love the way different glazing can transform the same piece and the alchemy of so many minerals on fire to make this skin of colored glass.
The Triada series is designed for a tasting menu of food from the milpa. Could you explain to use what the milpa are? I’ve noticed a lot of pride in Pre-Columban Mexican culture recently. Is this something you are keen to celebrate?
Prehispanic roots are very complex, there is no simple way to explain all of that!
I think there’s a lot of inspiration for design in our origins and in a more globalized culture it makes sense to look at them for inspiration. I believe that in order to preserve our roots we need to innovate and keep creative.
La Milpa is the agriculture system of Mesoamerica that we still use today all over the country. The symbiotic union between corn, bean and squash is called the Sacred triad. The three of them balance the soil and form protein in the body. Moreover religious and social organizations are centered around it.
For me La Milpa synthesizes and explains Mexican society.
I made these tripod vessels to honour the circle that starts in agriculture, and transforms to gastronomy with “molcajetes and metates”, which are volcanic tripod artifacts to grind and prepare food, lifted off the floor for both functionality and sacredness.