A bookstore that dates back to the beginning of the Twentieth century sustaining a style that belonged to the period of Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz
Eight years ago, in November 2012, Mexico City was a destination for museums, galleries and institutions, it had a cultural scene, but a bookstore in art and design was missing. That is when Jorge de la Garza and his business partner, Rafael Prieto, stepped in and founded Casa Bosques, a side project of their creative studio Savvy, directed by the Prieto. When the duo opened Casa Bosques – as called from the neighborhood name in which Savvy Studio was located, Bosques Del Valle, in Monterey – they wanted to achieve two goals. In Mexico, at the time, access to international magazines and independent publications from the world was limited. They wanted to find a way to break this limitation. They had the aspiration to concentrate on the local independent publishing scene, that was shared between galleries, artistic spaces and institutions. The reference concept of the bookstore clashed with the wishes of the consumers. Casa Bosques offered books on subjects and artists that were not available before this. People found themselves alienated in front of what they did not recognize and publications they hadn’t seen before, the bookstore then started to include editions familiar to the local audience.
Today, Casa Bosques is a landmark in the local and international independent publishing field. What assures the bookstore this selection is Index Art Book Fair, which occurs annually in Mexico City and is organized by a group of four colleagues, including De la Garza and Prieto. The fair is a resource to find publishers with which to collaborate. The network gravitating around the fair and the process of selection is alimented from listening to the members of the community. Having a bookstore means having to exclude. «If you want to do a job that lives up to your standards, you need to focus on disciplines and time periods». The bookstore stocks contemporary art and design subjects. They have included modernism and modern art. Following the political climate of today, themes of migrations, feminism, communities and resistance are part of book sections. One can count on encountering: Anarchy explained to children by José Antonio Emmanuel, Imprimir es resistir about posters concerning the last year protests in Chile or Muxelandia by María Elena Valdés, Renata Juárez and Chino Castillo, a photo book documenting a third gender community in the south of Mexico. Apart from the criteria of the sections, they display publications of multi-disciplinary genres to trigger a bouncing motion between one book and another. The process they use is the opposite from how the internet works: websites are made up of categories and subcategories that channel the user into a targeted research process, leaving no room for discovery.
Walking in the neighborhood of Roma, at Cordoba 25 there is a light box on the side wall with the name Casa Bosques and of studios and shops that live inside the building. The signboard is brought inside every night. The building that gives home to Casa Bosques is ‘catalogada’, a ‘so called’ house in Mexico, describing a construction that cannot be modified. The house dates back to the beginning of the Twentieth century and has absorbed influences from Europe and the United States, generating a style that belonged to the period of Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz. The staircase is brutalist and the windows are associated to Frank Lloyd Wright: they are original. What has been restyled by Savvy Studio is the interior design, the first to be located in the building having its office upstairs, followed by the shops and galleries whom it supports in creative direction. In order to assure continuity and unity between the studio and the shops, the interiors of the house are painted white. This treatment has been afforded to the bookstore where the backdrop helps the books contrast and become protagonists. The publications offered at Casa Bosques concern art, architecture and design. They are colorful and their aesthetic is what people focus on, not the shelves that are meant to be invisible, excluding a wooden one, designed in collaboration with Jorge Diego Etienne. The wooden wall is conceived as a system, made up of blocks that can be pushed backwards and forwards, changing the shelving once a month. The material – wood, styled with carpets and reading corners contributes to the atmosphere of comfort, considering the bookstore is located in what used to be the living room of the house. The set design consents to the space flexibility, making it adaptable to hold book launches, talks, signings, performances and screenings from Kim Gordon to Devendra Banhart and Dora Garcia to Cally Spooner.
The interaction between publishing and artistic expression has its roots in the background of Jorge de la Garza, who trained in London as a visual artist and then as an editorial designer at an art magazine, experimenting with installations, archive videos or fragments of books that translate into collages. Every corner of the store is populated with plants and the choice of having them is related to the concept within the identity of the brand: from wood and plants to paper and books. Casa Bosques is not plastic-friendly, the packaging is recycled, except in cases. Book promotions end up in a discount section while magazines are sent to a recycling center near the building. The neighborhood, Roma, is characterized by cultural places and connected services: it was inhabited by Mexicans from wealthy families, but from the beginning of the Twentieth century immigrants concentrated in the area, until an earthquake in 1985 upset the layout. After the natural disaster, the neighborhood started to be repopulated by a crowd, who felt connections to the DNA of the place, where artists Leonora Carrington and writer Williams Burroughs used to live. Artists, designers, architects, writers, publishers and collectors have a reason to walk in Casa Bosques. A Mexican tradition of diversity and inclusivity follow path on the shelves of Casa Bosques as you find a piece of pottery next to a book. This happens when the two partners decide to exhibit objects in the bookshop as with ceramics of the artist Perla Valtierra. The project to introduce chocolates started when the first collaboration was supported by Savvy Studio, and has been incorporated by Casa Bosques. Each chocolate has recommended pairings with wine and spirits. The process behind the choices start from the cacao source and the ingredients grace the packaging and graphic works, promoting collaborations with artists and chefs: the next one will be with artist, Laurence Wiener.IMAGE GALLERY
Córdoba 25, col. Roma norte
Mexico City, Mexico