The Sinkhole project is the result of a collaboration between Liliana Ovalle and Colectivo 1050º. The black vessels stand as a representation of sinkholes, a portrayal of those voids that emerge abruptly from the ground, dissolving their surroundings into an irretrievable space. Each vessel is suspended in a wooden frame, alluding to a cross section of the ground that reveals the hidden topographies.
The clay shapes, based in local archetypes for utilitarian pottery, are crafted by local ceramists from Tlapazola, Oaxaca using ancestral techniques and skills that are struggling to find a place in the contemporary global landscape.
Sinkhole Vessels is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
In Underlay Overlay, Ovalle makes reference to Mexico City’s eclectic nature, as particularly seen in the historical centre, where modern development, historic memory and popular culture coexist and confront each other every day creating a vibrant and complex blend.
The installation combines different textures encountered in the city centre represented in overlapping layers of Alcantara. The geometric patterns in the perforated layers draw on the fragmented ruins of pre-Columbine nested temples, which are only present nowadays as ruins and ideal reconstructions of the Aztec city. The intricate perforations also echo the traditional ‘papel picado’, a colourful die-cut paper that is used in festivities to decrotate the streets.
Layer after layer, as she draws on the historic memory and popular culture, the designer celebrates today the city’s most authentic genius loci.
En Concreto is a collection of small objects that explore the materiality of concrete and its cultural reference to modern architecture. Inspired by ‘béton brut’, the material is cast in different textures and geometries that echo architectural features, from ridged towers to smooth curved surfaces. The ambiguous shapes do not respond to particular function but can be adopted as domestic objects.
En Concreto No. 1 Torre 8 x 6.5 x 22.5 cms En Concreto No. 2 Talud 29 x 19 x 4 cms En Concreto No. 3 Terminal 19 x 19 x 19 cms En Concreto No. 4 Contrafuerte 12x 9 x 20 cms
En Concreto was presented at Slow, an exhibition curated by Alice Liechtenstein at Schloss Hollenegg for Design, a creative platform based in the medieval castle in Graz.
Open Fires is a collaboration between Liliana Ovalle and Colectivo 1050º that explored firing processes used in vernacular ceramics in Oaxaca. The project comprises a variety of exercises where clay pieces are fired in particular geometric setups created with sand, dung and agave leaves. Each composition acquires black traces of smoke and coal, a permanent imprint of the fire they were exposed to.
The clay pieces were formed by the artisans Mujeres del Barro Rojo, a family of female ceramist in Tlapazola who inherited ancestral local techniques for utilitarian red clay pottery. All the ceramics are shaped by hand using a combined technique of coils that are stretched into shape with a corncob. The pieces subsequently go through two different firing processes. An initial open fire, traditionally used in the region, hardens the pieces and makes them stable. In the second stage Ovalle worked closely with the artisans creating different setups for individual contained fires to imprint a black smoked finishing. All the materials used in the clay and the firing process are sourced locally by the artisans.
Mujeres del Barro Rojo is formed by Angelina Mateo, Amalia Cruz, Alberta Mateo, Dorotea Mateo, Elia Mateo, Macrina Mateo and María Gutiérrez.
Claroscuro (translated chiaroscuro): The use of contrasts of light and shade to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.
The project Claroscuro consists of two benches assembled from linear arrangements of tulipwood battens. The battens are machined in different thicknesses along their length to create a visual effect of changing density and perception. As the benches are viewed from certain angles various forms emerge and fade providing a sense of movement and ambiguity to the objects. Claroscuro uses the versatility of the material to explore the contrast between shade, light and form.
Totem consists of a set of four containers that stack vertically to create multiple configurations. The ceramic containers are printed in black and silver patterns on both the inside and outside surfaces. As the tower blocks rise up the linear graphics coincide and divert adding a sense of distortion to the vertical compositions.
Totem is produced as a Limited Edition by Anfora.
Totem Produced by Anfora Materials: High-temperature ceramics and water transfer Dimensions: Small 10 x 10 x 5cms Medium 10 x 10 x 7.5 cms Large 10 x 10 x 10 cms
Fragment of a Staircase
Fragment of a Staircase is a seat that draws on the familiar experience of appropriating the steps of a staircase to sit down and take a pause, whether it is at home, a public space or the interior of a building.
The piece is part of the permanent collection at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art .
Materials: Fibreglass Dimensions: 83 x 83 x 52 cms Year of Production: 2003
Printed with simple linear patterns, a set of glasses and carafe acquire a more complex three-dimensionality when combined together. The name Cumulo, taken from Cumulus clouds, makes reference to the accumulation of lines that changes in density and shape as the glass pieces congregate in different arrangements. By exploring the Moire effect, the overlapping patterns reveal hidden depths and landscapes.
Cumulo Materials: Borosilicate glass and water transfer Dimensions: Carafe 9 x 24 cms Glasses 6.5 x 12.5 cms
El Otro is the latest outcome of the Mugroso Series project, which started back in 2006. A basic wood and metal structure is eventually wrapped with different sized cushions. The cushions find their way through the holes and gaps that appear in the wood, where they squeeze their way in, sometimes smoothly, others with a bit of struggle.
Materials: Metal structure, elm and mixed fabrics Dimensions: 170 x 85 x 86 cms Photography: Claudio Sabatino Year of Production: 2010
The Mugroso Series started in 2006, where the first sofa was developed during my studies at the Royal College of Art. Based on a photographic research of the historical centre of Mexico City, the project draws into a culture of makeshift and improvisation that is prevalent in the urban landscape. Furniture, vending stalls and public signs are assembled together in what appear to be random compositions, following no planning or safety concerns. The results are powerful collages of colourful bits and pieces that are assembled together into everyday objects.
The sofas explore the aesthetics and logic of these informal systems by using the knot as a the connecting element between a series of cushions and a basic structure.
Materials: Metal structure, walnut and screen-printed fabrics. Dimensions: 175x 203x 90 cms Year of production: 2006
Mugrosita is the second iteration of the Mugroso Series. Based on a photographic research of the historical centre of Mexico City, the project draws into a culture of makeshift and improvisation that is prevalent in the urban landscape.
The armchair consists of a metal structure, bean bags and ropes that are connected and tangled together through knots. The object grows in an intuitive way, sometimes questioning a logical order, evoking the make-shift objects that organically appear in the urban landscapes of Mexico City. In this version a new element is added: a metallic grid, an object commonly used by street vendors to display their merchandise.
Materials: Metal structure, iroko and screen-printed fabrics. Dimensions: 90 x 85 x 56 cms Year of Production: 2009
Colour Me Tables
Colour can bring an immediate transformation to an object. Once a layer of pigment is applied to a surface, colour appears to define a space of its own.
The project explores wood staining as a means to draw colorful shapes within a series of wooden objects. The staining process is applied by hand, each plank resulting in a different shades and tones. The overall coloured shapes bring an additional identity to the wooden pieces.
Colour Me Red is part of the permanent collection at Centre National des Arts Plastiques in France.
Colour Me Red Materials: Solid Oak, hand stained. Dimensions: 43 x 45 x 40 cms
Colour Me Green Materials: Solid Oak, hand stained. Dimensions: 103 x 55 x 50 cms Year of production: 2011
The Chroma Season
LILIANA OVALLE: THE CHROMA SEASON an exhibition curated by Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò Plusdesign Gallery, Milan. April 16th - June 30th 2012.
THE CHROMA SEASON introduces the results of Liliana’s recent design process, which inaugurates through a variety of objects full of great intensity and originality, a new phase of research in her creative conception. Set up in the windowed room gallery well known as “Project Room”, the installation is characterized by a strong reciprocity among the individual pieces displayed. They are all associated by a consistent use of the colour and share the same geometric formal design inspiration.
In addition to the pair of tables Colour Me Tables - composed by Colour Me Green and Colour Me Red - and the Patio carpet produced by Nodus, the installation also includes the brand-new desk Colour Me Blue and some experimental Samples of Colour specially made for the occasion. The colour theme should be interpreted as a factor enhancing the object identity, a kind of code by which amplify its emotional charge and its aptitude to transmit meaningful information. The collection is proposed by the designer in unique or limited edition pieces.
Over the surface of the displayed objects, a monochrome of intense and contemporary palette, meets patterning areas defined by precise and geometrically determined boundaries. The resulting patterns, risen from the application of different densities and intensities of colours, produce perceptual effects of simulated three-dimensional and unexpected depth. In Liliana Ovalle’s production the “colour”, far from being absorbed as a finishing interchangeable treatment, pertains to the expression of sensitivity and also the transmission of an imagination which, especially in the latter creative “season”, looks to the vibrant, contradictory, multi-colored “City Theater” as a reference of a privileged scenario.
Photography by Carlo Becalli
Piedras explores the use of stones as a key element for supporting an object. Often caught in ad hoc assemblages, stones can become a reliable anchor. The project aims to reinterpret the circumstantial nature of these settings by methodically recreating what might seem incidental.
The tables are composed by a wooden top and a metal structure, which come together as a table through the use of soap-stones as the main support. Each of the stones is unique and has been hand-carved to fit the structure.
Piedra Roja Materials: Elm, metal structure, black serpentine. Dimensions: 40 x 40 x 55 cms
Piedra Azul Materials: Elm, metal structure, black serpentine. Dimensions: 50 x 45 x 65 cms Year of production: 2010
A table strips revealing its naked structure. Is it uncovering itself? Is it just waiting to be finished? The table seems to be fixed in half-done state, triggering opposed expectations: the possibility of fading or the promise of growth.
Materials: Corian and Oak Dimensions: 110 x 40 x 86 cms Photography: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Year of Production: 2008
Crash Bench (review)
Something came from the skies, made its way through the ceiling and collapsed inevitably on the bench. The unexpected incident transformed the bench, the odd impact imposes a new way of being.
Materials: Fibreglass and steel structure Dimensions: 175 x 48 x 43 cms Year of Production: 2006
Protractors to measure an exact angle, spirit levels that confirm the horizon, compasses that point towards the North. Throughout history we have developed tools that reassure us of a rational and measurable world. Spirit Level is presented as an instrument that differs from our expectations of stability. The bubble in the vial is fixed in the irregular tool unable to meet with the horizon. The ‘measuring’ talisman will give us the power to respond to an unpredictable world, where laws and rationale are yet to be understood.
Spirit Level was commisioned for Talisman, Contemporay Symbolic Objects, a group exhibition organised by In Residence and curated Barbara Brondi and Marco Raino. The show, presented at Palazzo Clerici during the Design Week 2017at Milan, featured a collection of talismans, one-of-a-kind pieces made for the occasion by 46 designers. The exhibition was followed by an auction organized by Swedish auction house Örnsbergsauktionen.
Spirit Level 15 x 7 x 2 cms Aluminium and glass vial