Fernando Laposse is a Mexican designer, based in London, who transforms humble objects into refined products, adding value to otherwise discarded materials. He specialises in plant fibres such as sisal, loofah and corn. Endemic Design looks at how materials and their history are linked to location and people. Laposse uses this design practice to work with indigenous communities within his native country of Mexico. This in turn creates local employment opportunities while also raising awareness of these communities. His hope is to create sustainable materials while also trying to make a difference to the communities. Talking about topics such as biodiversity, community dissolution, migration and the negative impact of global trade in local agriculture and food culture, he hopes to bring about change. This is done through documentation and giving possible solutions through design.


Totomoxtle is a project by Laposse that utilises the leaves/husks of corn. A veneer material is created which ranges from purple to pink to showcase the diversity of the native corn of Mexico, which are essential for the country’s gastronomy. The colours of the pieces create a patchwork, but it’s the colour that is one of the reasons that this type of corn is seen as undesirable, as they are not uniform they are seen as unattractive to industrial-scale agriculture. The material is made by peeling the corn husks from the cobs, ironing them flat and glueing them onto a backing material. These are then cut into the desired shape, so patterns can be made. This material can be used for decorative wall coverings, furniture, design objects and even fashion accessories. 


This project not only focuses on a new sustainable material, but instead, regenerated traditional Mexican agricultural practices, and allows locals to practice a new craft from their waste materials which can generate income for farmers and craftsmen. It also promotes the preservation of biodiversity for future food security. The number of native Mexican corn varieties is declining due to trade agreements, herbicides and pesticides, and the influx of modified foreign seeds. However, indigenous people continue to plant heirloom species, but this is due to tradition rather than financial gain.


Laposse partnered with the community of Tonahuixla, a small village in the state of Puebla in Mexico, for this project. The arrival of industrial agriculture in the area has meant that there is a lack of employment which has caused mass migration, erosion of the land, and loss of native species. Working with CIMMYT, the world’s largest corn seed bank, he has been able to slowly reintroduce native seeds back into the village for them to return back to their traditional way of agriculture. Local women then have been using the husks for the harvest to turn them into the veneered material using the process that Laposse created. 

Pink Beasts

In 2019 Fernando Laposse was selected to create a public installation for the Miami Design District, focusing on the theme of colour. Pink Beasts is a collection of suspended hairy sloths and hammocks. The pieces are made using agave fibres that were dyed pink using natural cochineal. His aim for the exhibition was to reconnect the public with nature, and in particular organic colour on natural materials. Cochineal is a tiny insect that is native to Mexico and grows on cacti. These cacti are only able to be grown in the region, the Canary Islands and Peru, as it cannot be sustained anywhere else. A collective of 45 women Mayan weavers from Yucatan dyed, brushed and knotted the fibres by hand over 3 months.

Fernando Laposse