The following is an excerpt of an interview featured in Apartamento magazine issue #25, out now! Click here to get your copy.
Carlos Matos and Lucas Cantú, founders of Tezontle, live and work in the historic centre of Mexico City, El Centro. Despite being the busiest and most hectic part of the city at certain daytime hours; at night it turns into a sort of ghost town, where dark cantinas and famous taquerías consort in an almost provincial setting. For most people El Centro is not even central, it’s a suffocating place where you go in search of something very specific—a particular light bulb, a lid for your food processor, a button for your shirt—or to see an exhibition in the Palacio de Bellas Artes or any other museum, or to eat in one of the legendary restaurants in the area. It’s always a fascinating experience, but one that the typical Mexican won’t repeat more than three times a year.
For Carlos and Lucas, El Centro is a playground. It’s also their factory. Every façade, every hardware store or workshop that they encounter in their daily rounds is a possible trigger for one of their pieces. Tezontle was founded five years ago, and from the start there’s always been an ambiguity around its definition as an art, architecture, or design studio. The space is undoubtedly unconventional, dealing with any one of these disciplines; its tables and shelves hold architectural models for upcoming projects, all types of materials, sculptures, lots of books, and found objects. Among the studio’s 10 members are architects, artists, designers, and carpenters, who, invariably, are drawing plans, making moulds to filter special mixes of concrete, or taking care of any other job that comes up that day. Its portfolio of projects includes the recently inaugurated Tenaza public sculpture in Havana, Cuba; two housing designs for artists; two beach houses; a recently completed art residence in New York; and another that’s still underway on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Its architecture is not afraid of ornamentation, nor is its sculpture afraid of functionalism.