‘Los Enmascarados’ is an exploration of Mexican culture that combines traditional craft with contemporary furniture concepts
Mexican folk-art masks play an important part in the native culture. They are used in traditional dances, theatrical performances, rituals, and ceremonies, with the purpose being to convert the participants into other characters or beings. Though masks are not something traditionally associated with furniture, several masks of Mexico were used as the inspiration for a set of designs- converting what they mean to the culture into more contemporary objects.
Ana Jimenez was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. Though she has studied abroad in both Switzerland and Italy, and currently lives in London, Mexican masks have always had an important cultural significance for her. While studying for her Masters degree in furniture design at Central Saint Martins, she created ‘Los Enmascarados,’ which translated to ‘the masked men.’ The set includes five pieces of furniture that were inspired by five traditional Mexican masks, each with very unique purposes.
The ‘Double Face’ mask is a mask that represents the fight between good and evil within each person. To represent this, Jimenez created a drawer that is part good and part evil. The good side is unpainted wood and normal looking, while the bad side is green and has a duplicate set of legs that jut out from the top of the drawers. Similarly, the ‘Drunk Lady’ has a red painted top half and a bare bottom half. The top represents her over-confidence and is meant to make you feel threatened, while the bottom reveals how unstable she is. This chest has a multitude of legs and the structure itself leans significantly to the right, showing the struggle for balance an inebriated person feels.
The ‘Devil,’ the ‘Buffoon,’ and the ‘Old Man’ are all night tables that stand on tall legs. The ‘Devil’ is painted orange and has its arms raised in the air, ready to pounce on a passerby and bring about trickery. The ‘Buffoon’ is painted mint-green and has unturned arms that point in different directions as if captured in mid-dance. The ‘Buffoon’ traditionally represents a person who is having a good time and is the life of the party. The ‘Old Man’ is painted a demure blue and his arms are sloped down as if he’s hunched over. Despite his old age, the drawers are placed in a really funky design, showing he still has a very energetic spirit.
These pieces of furniture are a very innovative interpretation of traditional Mexican masks, but they are also incredibly interesting as furniture units themselves. Though Jimenez is already working on her next project, a spacial design practice, it’s clear that ‘Los Enmascarados’ could evolve into a full collection if she so desires.
[h/t] Design Boom