Onora is a design studio based in Mexico City that collaborates with artisans across the country. Together, we create and explore different ways to reimagine textiles, utilitarian and decorative objects using ancient craft techniques. We seek to strike a balance between tradition and innovation, while maintaining strong ties to Mexico’s cultural heritage.
Our pieces –created for the daily rituals of modern living- honor the wise stories once told to us, by giving them a new voice and sharing them once again with you.
"Our pieces - intended for the daily rituals of modern life - give a new voice to the valuable stories that were once told to us."
Over the years we have traveled to an infinite number of communities to meet and learn from master artisans throughout Mexico. This exchange of knowledge and human connection is what sustains our passion and is what has allowed us to establish long lasting relationships built on mutual respect, shared curiosity and trust. Our collaborations with over 200 artisans, are intuitive and flexible shaped and nurtured by research, conversation and experimentation.
How can we keep what is essential to popular art and distinctive to the process while we try to discover a new means of expression for it? That’s the question we struggle with together over the months it takes to develop each product.
Because of that, we strive for balance in what we create – not by erasing contradictions but by celebrating them. We aim to never lose the authorship, the personality and the iconography that ties these pieces to their origin and identity, even as we push ourselves to refine and refresh how those details are newly articulated in our final designs.
While on the road, we are always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind vintage pieces to inspire and complement our original designs. It’s that curation – between restoration and innovation – that defines our approach. We occupy a unique space between what is on the verge of being lost forever and what has never been done before.
"How to maintain the essence of popular art and the characteristic of the process, while discovering new forms of expression?"
With design we transform and share
We believe design is not only a tool for creating useful and aesthetic objects, but also it serves as an important vehicle for social transformation and change. Our design process includes sustainable and horizontal collaborations, long term commitments, fair wages, gender equality and responsible management of natural resources.
By putting into practice these values and sharing their importance with our clientele, we hope to generate more responsible consumers and in doing so, we aim to support and stimulate Mexico’s artisanal traditions and the communities that sustain them.
We see craft not only as a magnificent heritage that needs to be safeguarded, but also as a valuable reminder of the things that matter; candor, our intrinsic connection with nature and the beauty of humankind.
About the founders
It began on the road ...
As a child, María Eladia spent the summer in the back seat of a station wagon touring archaeological sites and communities in Mexico with her family. During those trips she learnt about the beauty of Mexican history and its rich craft tradition, that is how her fascination with folk art began. She carried those craft influences with her when she studied design at Universidad Iberoamericana, where she refined and redefined her art. Two decades later ago, when life took her to Los Angeles, nostalgia for Mexico and a love for for design led her to embark on a new journey re- exploring and sharing her country’s rich and multifaceted culture.
Maggie, a New Yorker discovered her passion for Mexico and popular art in 1989, when she spent a semester abroad working as a public health volunteer in the Mixtecan region of Oaxaca. She returned home with a palm basket, a woven rug and a promise to herself: to return one day. Her dream came true when she went back in 1995 to study a Master’s Degree in Art History at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), where she sharpened her critical eye and research capacity. These skills have been put into practice over twenty years of collaborations with foundations (Fomento Cultural Banamex), NGOs and government initiatives (FONART) focused on documenting and reviving Mexico’s artisanal heritage. Eventually, she established her own small craft-design company and label shortly before meeting María Eladia.
A Mexican living in Los Angeles and a New Yorker living in Mexico City, there was a symmetry to the way their stories intersected and their passions overlapped. In 2013 serendipity brought them together and they built a fast friendship based on their common vision of sharing the best of Mexican craft with the world, Onora was born.