At Taller Paco Padilla, a ceramics workshop in Tlaquepaque, just outside of Guadalajara, a weathered man and longtime employee named Don Alfonso sits at the potter’s wheel. It’s mesmerizing to watch his hands work the wet clay, continuously making cup after identical cup. Nearby, Santiago Padilla—grandson of founder Paco Padilla—works on his simple, Scandi-inspired dishware brand Hacha. It’s a stark contrast, the old and the young side by side. According to Padilla, there aren’t many throwers like Don Alfonso left, which is why it’s more important than ever for young designers (like himself) to continue the tradition of Mexican crafts.
The state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, has a long history of producing crafts, namely ceramics. Most of the workshops are found in nearby villages of Tlaquepaque and Tonolá, both easy and worthwhile day trips from the city. (Tlaquepaque is actually home to two museums that celebrate the art form, the Museo Regional de la Cerámica and Museo del Premio Nacional de la Cerámica Pantaleón Panduro.) For some contemporary designers, like Laura Noriega of Tributo, collaborating with these local masters is an important part of the process.