Eduardo Herrera The Art of Making
To understand Eduardo Herrera’s life one must enter a world where things can only be done until are materialized. The son of an enthusiast restaurant owner and art collector, Eduardo studied architecture and makes jewelry, design and art. But perhaps his best artwork is his apartment, which he refurbished, decorated and furnished himself. You can tell he truly enjoys producing, creating, his daily routine. As we walk through the apartment, the roof top, his father’s gallery and store, he tells us the story of every object and nook with an intense passion which makes him jump from one idea to the next. Eduardo is the epitome of the Bricoleur, a Robinson Crusoe that builds his world day after day. He lets us into his apartment in an art deco building on Amsterdam Street, in the Condesa neighborhood. Eduardo Herrera: “I’m an architect and with Cris, my girlfriend, we put this place together. The floor is original, just like the one in the hallways and in the lower ground. In certain areas, the previous tenant picked it so we took it off and replaced the cupboards in the kitchen. Cris does all this: ceramics with silver – pointing to some animal pieces. We kept the frieze, painted everything and decorated it with a lot of plants. We’ve made all the furniture along the way or repaired it and with the wood remains, we made the doors.” “These – he shows a few paintings with different overlapping planes and geometric designs – began as explorations without really knowing what the goal was. Now I make jewelry and I’m doing really well, but I don’t want to put architecture oh hold. When I started studying architecture, I had a notebook filled with drawings like these and I cut them out. That’s where I got the idea to make these flat architectonic pieces, even though various planes create volume.” Límulus: How does architecture influence your work? EH: “I don’t know if architecture itself influences it. Architectural formation, on the other, does. It gave me a very technical approach; it helped me solve everything in detail to have the best end result. As for jewelry, I sketch first, then I make blueprints and assemble them; it’s very technical. As an architect you are very geometric and in jewelry, I became much more organic, the straight line disappeared. Sometimes the organic part scares me the most because it’s harder, but we have really good manpower. In the end, my processes are very well thought out: architecture, design and jewelry. You clarify the organic part to build.” L: Do you research the materials and techniques before you begin a design? EH: “I used to be very strict in the past. When I worked on a mockup with Gabriel Macotela in my sixth semester in college, he’d tell me not to think so much and simply draw it. So I’ve dropped a few precepts. There is an intension of course, an idea, and you have to solve it along the way. My research takes place during the process.” L: How did you end up making jewelry? EH: Cri’s dad told me about an English man name William Spratling, considered to be the father of modern jewelry, who lived in Taxco. He advised me to do the same. Then one day, as I walked through the Roma neighborhood, I found a place called 9/25 that gave jewelry classes. I took a few courses for two months and learned to weld, scroll, etc. I didn’t learn these techniques to carry them out. It’s as if you studied architecture to be a construction worker. At the end of the day, you’re not going to build the wall. There are people that have been doing it for thirty years and you’re not going to do it better. As for jewelry, you have to know the processes to make a design based on them. The ideas and shapes come from the processes, there’s no other way. As for the research, I don’t like to look at books too much because I start doubting my ideas and I feel like I won’t be able to make anything. I get inspired by the place where I live, the ranch in Taxco; by the landscapes, the hills, the incredible trees, the birds in the afternoons, and the waterfalls. In the beginning, my drawings were very architectural: I made squared pendants… But then one day, I don’t know what happened, I designed a necklace that led me to the next, and so on. In college you learn trends, what is and what should be. In Taxco the walls are made of adobe, with no foundations; being submerged in that place makes you more sensitive in a different way. He shows us his stone collection and tell us that Cris and her grandfather also collected them. “This is architecture,” he says as he points to the stone. He shows us his artworks and says: “My sole purpose is to make it. I entered it in a contest a while back and saw that some Starbucks cups had won… This is a close up of an ear of corn, this one of a chayote leaf and this one is a close up of these worms that attack the corn. A lady who bought jewelry from me saw this one, she took five for a gallery and sold one.” He then takes us to the rooftop of the building, filled with various cacti, plants and furniture they made. The apartment is in the building where the Specia restaurant is located. He says: it’s given us everything. The building is classified as art deco. Eduardo explains that he dreamt of having an apartment here since he was a kid, and tells us of his love for this architectural style, his favorite. The store located on the ground floor does not have a seller’s permit and he says that although they’ve tried to get one the legal way, it cannot be done. He only opens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The day he gets the permit, he explains, he wants to open the two adjacent shops to exhibit Cris’ pieces as well. L: Did you make the mannequins? Cris answers for him: Yes, he also makes ceramics, he makes everything, he even cooks. He made the mold in our ceramics workshop with wire and tape, and the ceramist made him a really big mold for him to cut it out before baking it. He takes the necklace and cuts out the mannequin based on the necklace. L: Have you worked with metal for long? – We ask Cris. Cris: Mi grandpa started working in Spratling’s workshop when he was fourteen years old. When we were little, we’d sit and make things, for fun. Then my mother began selling them in a shop in the US. Alejandra (her sister) drew many dolls and my mother would make them into pins. She started selling them and people started collecting them. Whatever we drew, my mother would turn it into a pin. L: Where did you two meet? C: In Acapulco. My sister went to school with him and was dating Jorge, a friend of his. We went on a school trip and I tagged along. L: How did you introduce Eduardo to metal? C: He’d visit me at the ranch from time to time. He’d get bored and make chairs, and in one occasion, he drew a piece for the silversmith. Eduardo goes on: I wanted to open this place as an art gallery. But at the time, I was taking jewelry classes in the Roma neighborhood. I set my furniture-making aside and went to Taxco. That’s how I got acquainted with metal. Most of my “classes” have been there, learning mostly from the silversmith in my workshop. The man is about forty years old and has worked in that since he was six. His great uncle who is now 83, has all the experience in the world and tells his nephew all about it. No one else except his nephew, who is the head of the workshop. Then Cris adds: That’s why these pieces have age-old little tricks that not even my workers know how to do. L: In the same way you explained the meaning of your architectural pieces, what meaning does metal have for you? EH: Well, it’s not something very symbolic; I didn’t really understand how to make a fork at first, for example. In Taxco, I watch how people work and realize how much I can learn from silver: you buy it in little balls called granules; you melt them until they become liquid, empty it, let it cool and it turns into a brick this big that weighs a kilo. That goes into a roller, they work on it, hammer it and shape it. To watch a drawing transform into metal pieces is absolutely incredible. People have been wearing jewelry for thousands and thousands of years. It is amazing to see all this comes from the earth; ultimately it’s raw materials transformed into pieces. It’s truly amazing. L: What does body ornamentation represent to you? EH: I used to think that the simpler, the better. I didn’t like jewelry and wondered why people wore it. Especially when they asked me to do the silvering. At first I wanted to work with copper and cheap stones; I didn’t really see any value in silver, or its glow. Suddenly, you start noticing how if a beautiful woman wears a piece, something happens to her. It affects her physique in a negative of positive way. It’s very gratifying for me because, for example, my paintings can’t be worn. You’ll see them on a wall at most, maybe even in a gallery or a museum. However, this other part of my work allows me to dress people and I like doing that. L: Any plans for the future? EH: Yes, I want to marry Cris, have babies… I’m going to continue making jewelry. I am in love with these pieces. I’m passionate about the whole process, as well as having people come in a buy pieces. I’ve only made necklaces and bracelets up to now. I want to make rings and earrings. Make bigger pieces. In the ranch there’s a plot of land with a house that’s been destroyed on it. We want to tear it down completely and make a house for us. We think of the stonewalls in the apartment, in the ranch… We even want to alter a part of the river to decorate the spaces in the house and make it go back out. I think the meaning of ornamentation, although it is not compulsory, is necessary for the soul. I don’t know about modern day jewelry. I have a book on modern jewelry that my father gave me, and I feel like a lot of it is a joke. I see a necklace made out of telephone cables and that sort of thing… I’m not saying it’s bad, but I feel we’re going through a period of dehumanization. L: It’s about the value of the idea and clearly, your quest is in the value of beauty, of fine arts, of aesthetics; it’s about knowing how to work with materials. Ultimately, to embellish the body is to embellish the soul.