We had the good fortune of connecting with Maggie Galton Maria Eladia Hagerman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maggie Galton, what are you inspired by?
Much of our inspiration comes from dialoguing between Mexico’s past and present. We are a contemporary brand with ancestral ties. Our past/present narrative is what sustains our brand and our creative process; more importantly, it reflects the many layers and complexity of Mexico’s rich culture.
Another important idea sustaining and inspiring our company is the concept that we are how we live. Though deeply rooted in history and tradition, ours are not pieces meant for a museum. We see culture as something messier, louder, and much more accessible than that. It lives with us each day – in the way we eat, the way we unwind, the way we open our home to others. In that way, the past is always bound to us, whether we recognize it or not.
We believe the objects we choose to live with can serve to sustain those bonds, adding layers of richness and a depth of meaning to the everyday. We see in the history of Mexican handwork not only a beautiful heritage worth protecting but also a simple, brilliant reminder of how to be: more grounded, more thoughtful, more grateful.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a Mexican City based design brand and shop that collaborates with artisan communities throughout Mexico to create unique home items. Our shop offers different collections and a curation of pieces ranging from textiles to ceramic, lacquer and copper objects.
Being so close geographically to the artisans we collaborate with, we have been able to develop an extremely productive relationship, which shows in the quality, detail and technique evidenced in our products.
We also collaborate with architects and interior designers in the development of tailored concepts for interior design projects including hotels, restaurants and residences serving as a link between the craft sector and interior design.
Our story began well before 2012 when we first met and formed the company in 2013.
Maria Eladia; I am a Mexican designer and avid collector of Mexican crafts. I was born in Mexico City but have been living in LA for over 10 years now. Since I was a young child I would travel all over Mexico visiting archeological sites and communities with my family. Years later, living in Los Angeles, I felt that Mexican handcraft was really poorly represented, something so surprising as LA boasts such a vibrant Mexican community. The desire to showcase the exquisite craftsmanship and traditions of my country both at home and abroad became one of my main reasons for joining forces with Maggie to create Onora.
Maggie: I’m a native New Yorker living in Mexico for close to 30 years now (and a recent temporary LA transplant). I have been working with artisans since the 90’s. When I met Maria Eladia I had already worked for over a decade with the Banamex Foundation in the Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art program, and had consulted independently for various NGO’s such as Aid to Artisans as well as Mexico’s government craft Institution FONART.
We immediately saw how as a team we could contribute to the survival of Mexican handcraft and that the outcome was dependent not only on reviving certain skills and techniques but also by sharing these skills with future generations. We also saw the crucial need to innovate; mindfully tweaking traditional design without ever sacrificing the stories and identity embodied in each piece.
The process of joining forces was very organic. Our timing was perfect – the market at that moment was just waking up to the idea of embracing handcrafted pieces. It was a very intuitive process with its ups and downs. We have learned so many lessons through this journey. Perhaps one of the most valuable lesson is to really honor time and our connection to the earth. The days and months of our artisan collaborators are dictated by the seasons and by agricultural cycles therefore we must always be respectful when creating a production calendar. We know that the summer months are rainy and the clay takes longer to dry and the looms are laden with moisture and therefore harder to manage. So we do not allow the market to dictate our production time rather we give priority to our artisan partners schedule and community needs.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We both live in Santa Monica which is a bit sleepy and slow paced but it is a healthy balance from the chaos of Mexico City where we also live and visit on a regular basis. As LA is such a huge and spread out city we tend to stay pretty local, We are big fans of fresh produce and beautiful blooms so the Wednesday Farmers Market in downtown Santa Monica is an absolute must. We love speaking to the local producers and learning where everything comes from. So now you know we get a lot of our inspiration from mother earth so hikes in the Santa Mountains are part of our weekly routines. We are always craving the flavors of Mexico so for tasty Oaxacan food we recommend Monte Alban on Santa Monica Avenue. The Carne Asada and Tlayudas are excellent. For South East Asian fare we are big fans of COBI, a charming restaurant that recently opened on Main Street. The dumplings, roti and butter chicken are divine. For a little culture there are always interesting exhibits at the galleries at Bergamont Station and the Matzoh ball soup at Berdie’s (there restaurant on site ) is scrumptious. We also recommend a tour of the Eames Foundation -the iconic mid-century modern home of well-known designers Charles & Ray Eames.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
All of the artisans with whom we collaborate.
Mariana Hagerman – photographer