NEL is a Mexican design studio comprised of a small team of talented young designers. According to their website, ‘the collective focuses on exploring, through concept and form, the interaction in design between traditional materials and techniques, and new processes or unusual applications’.
The collective is formed by:
Cecilia León de la Barra
It’s amazing how, while the designs are playful, pleasing and full of imagination; they’re also perfectly useful.
NEL is a firm of unique style and character, fueled by knowledge and creativity and driven by each member’s passion. The collective is young and has grown to be a much bigger project that was originally planned. The studio continues to expand… slowly growing and becoming popular internationally.
I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing NEL, and here’s the end result… for your reading pleasure…
The Pompomist: NEL is about two years old this year. How did it all start and how did you grow over the years?
NEL: NEL is the result of an idea of exploring concepts on design, exploring our culture and traditions and translate them into an experience, a concept, or a product. It’s on our leisure time when we gather and start developing these ideas.
It started in 2004 with the idea of participating in the Salone Satellite 2005.
The Pompomist: As a team, what do you like the most about your careers?
NEL: The process, it’s really worth everything, and the fact that we are doing what we like for a living.
The Pompomist: What is most challenging aspect about design work?
NEL: To have a real connection with the needs, mainly when those needs are oriented to pleasure and living. To have a satisfied client (most of the time we’re the worst client!)
The language between what is on your mind and how you want to express it to someone else.
The Pompomist: As a team, which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?
NEL: “Stitch Kit” – Oscar
“For me, each project has had a rich process that gives me satisfaction.” – Hector
“The ‘Pack of Things’ collection came out really nice.” – Cecilia
The Pompomist: What is NEL working on these days? Any upcoming projects you could share with us?
NEL: A collection in ceramics, and completing the family of products for the ‘Pack of Things’ collection, also doing a review of the last projects and products
The Pompomist: Does each member of the group have a specific role and its own competences? Or is each project always developed through a ‘total team’ work?
NEL: A total team work, sometimes obviously an idea comes from one of us and leads the concept but at the end its common work.
The Pompomist: How is the contemporary art scene in Mexico?
NEL: Exploiting. Growing.
The Pompomist: Could you name us a few artists who deserve to get more attention from the public?
NEL: Carlos A. Morales, Carlos Ranc, Ivan Abreu, Los Super Elegantes, Miguel Calderón, Damian Ortega.
The Pompomist: What advice could you give to those interested in pursuing design? And what does a person coming into this field need to know?
NEL: Do it; don’t expect someone to come and do it for you, and enjoy it, the more you enjoy the better the result will be.
It’s something that you need to live with, you need to be a 24 hour designer, with family, friends, parties, it is a way of seeing life and the world.
The Pompomist: Thank you, NEL.
Here are some examples of their design work:
A rug shaped after the map of Iraq features soldiers advancing from many direction into Baghdad.
FILL IN THE CAT
Is a series of chairs, bookshelves and table made out of Styrofoam blocks and carved into animal silhouettes.
PACK OF DOGS
Pieces based roughly on the shape of a dog, in different sizes and positions. The characters are named after famous Mexican wrestlers and may work as a side table, stool, bench, bookshelf, magazine rack, newspaper holder, bookends, etc.
Quetza is a bookshelf that roughly resembles the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl who was shaped after a feathered snake.
This is the first project by the group. It begins with the graphic representation of the objects, (like a chair or a lamp) and how this leads us to the functional object in three dimensions through the sewing techniques.
Check out NEL’s website for more information.