Blair Richardson, Mexico City
Words by Elisha Kennedy
Images by Ana Laframboise and Daniel Klinckwort
Deciding to relocate overseas often goes hand-in-hand with periods of self doubt and logistic difficulties, but graphic designer Blair Richardson knew within weeks of visiting that despite it all, she needed to move to Mexico City. Since moving, the city has proven to be a large source of inspiration for her work as a graphic designer and Art Director. We visit the vibrant home that she shares with her partner Jorge, their rescue dog, Ciro, and Nin the kitten and learn more about her business, MiniSuper Studio.
Tell us a bit about your work background, what led to the launch of MiniSuper Studio?
After design school, I worked at Yee-Haw Industries, a now-defunct letterpress studio in Knoxville, Tennessee, followed by a few years at Pentagram in Austin. These two experiences led me to appreciate polished corporate design just as much as the tactile and the handmade. Once I set out on my own, I aimed to combine the two. What incited you to make the move to Mexico City?
I met my husband at a New Years Eve party in Marfa, Texas in 2008. We were both travelling through (I was living in Austin, he was in Distrito Federal) and we had one of those love-at-first-sight moments that I didn't believe in before it happened. Following a short weekend visit to Mexico City a few weeks later, I knew I had to move here, and did so by the end of 2009. I can't imagine ever moving back to the States at this point; it's very inspiring here!
Tell us a bit about the design community in Mexico City.
The design community here has really blossomed in the past decade, and there are a lot of young studios producing amazing work in graphics, furniture, fashion, architecture and industrial design. But my inspiration comes more from the creativity of the everyday 'designers' in Mexico: sign painters that add curious flourish to letters, weavers on the street making beautiful baskets, the way a vendor cuts a watermelon open in an interesting zig-zag shape to make it look more enticing in a market. The creativity here is astounding, and you can still find people to hand-make just about anything. This is probably the main reason I never want to leave, there is inspiration everywhere!
My inspiration comes more from the creativity of the everyday 'designers' in Mexico: sign painters that add curious flourish to letters, weavers on the street making beautiful baskets, the way a vendor cuts a watermelon open in an interesting zig-zag shape to make it look more enticing in a market.
What do you like about the neighbourhood in which you live? I love the architecture and tropical plants.
What are your favourite kinds of project to work on?
Most of the work coming out of my studio pertains to food. I love branding restaurants; I've done about 20+ so far, and it's very satisfying work. Most of my clients are chef-owners, and I know my way around a kitchen, so we get along and have fun. I enjoy collaborating with the architects to find moments where the brand can express itself in the interiors. And unlike some projects, restaurants have a set timeline to open and I know when my work will be done--and then I get to move on to the next one! What can you share with us about any projects you are currently working on?
Well, actually, I'm in a moment of creating my own project: I'm opening a small appointment-only showroom of artisan goods with curious things from my travels around Mexico. The name is Ven A Mi, which means "Come to Me" in Spanish. (In markets here, they sell a soap called Ven A Mi that you are supposed to use to attract love into your life!) I've done several buying trips to small towns in Michoacan and Oaxaca so far, and plan to launch this September. I've never done retail so I have a lot to learn, but the intention is pure: I want to share the creativity of artisans from the countryside (and put money in their pockets!) with the flood of tourists in my neighborhood who are looking for some cool stuff to buy. Sounds like it should work.
Tell us about your home, how long have you lived there? Have you made any changes?
Jorge had purchased the house, built in 1905, about six months before we met. He had basically painted everything white and stripped out the tacky shag carpet and pipes running everywhere, but didn't actually have any furniture to speak of, so it felt a little like we were squatting for a while. We've been fixing it up little by little, and just finished the kitchen and a new powder room last year. The roof garden is a constant work in progress, and the next reno will probably be the laundry room, which is also on the roof.
Do you have a morning routine?
After a little yoga (on days when I'm good) and a shower, I walk down the stairs to make breakfast-- this descent might be my favourite part of the day. Our rescue dog, Ciro, and kitten, Nin, wait for me at the top of the stairs, and go down in step with me. It's adorable and makes me feel like some Disney character that charms all the animals. I then make coffee and breakfast: either fruit with homemade granola or eggs with toast from Panaderia Rosetta, our favourite bakery. A bedtime routine?
I have a hard time falling asleep without reading, so I'm normally devoted to a book until my eyes can no longer stay open! (When I was a kid, I hid a flashlight under my bed to keep reading after lights out.) It's normally either the New Yorker, a contemporary novel, or some pop-sci nonfiction. Right now I'm devouring Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and wish I had more time in my bed to read it before I nod off.