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The Designer Making High Art Out Of Food Waste

December 2018Words by Ms Anna Sulan Masing

Corn husks in the village of Tonahuixtla, Mexico, June 2017. All photographs by Mr Fernando Laposse

Seasonality, provenance and nose-to-tail eating are now ingrained in the restaurant lexicon, all part of an overarching theme of sustainability. But sustainability in food isn’t simply about finding a solution to waste or focusing on the produce, it is about understanding the complexity of relationships between people along the food chain. It is about creating sustainable livelihoods as well as a sustainable environment.

London-based Mexican designer Mr Fernando Laposse’s recent design project – titled Totomoxtle – seeks to illustrate this. Using dried corn husks to create a patterned veneer for vases, walls and lights, his work takes in everything from a rural indigenous community to a global seed bank, European museums and the world of fine dining. This project taps into a story that mirrors food and farming communities across the world, where independent communities are fighting to have their voices heard and be economically sustainable. It also showcases the colours of native Mexican corn – deep purples, blush pinks and husky yellows.

“Corn is so important to the culture of Mexico that there are many words in the indigenous languages to describe it. Totomoxtle is the word for the dried husks,” says Mr Laposse.