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Mark Grattan, photo by Rodrigo Chapa.
Photo by Pia Riverola.
Photo by Pia Riverola.
Photo by Pia Riverola.
Photo by Jorge Abuxapqui.
Photo by Jorge Abuxapqui.
Photo by Pia Riverola.
Photo by Pia Riverola.
Design

Designer Mark Grattan is Taking Greater, More Gratifying Risks

By Katy Donoghue

April 28, 2021

Mexico City–based VIDIVIXI opened a showroom in Colonia San Rafael last year to coincide with the launch of its VX 2020 collection. There, a dramatic interplay of shadow and light reveal a seductive series of tables, sofas, chairs, and a bed platform unlike anything you’ve encountered before. Full of curves, volume, and lines that lead the eye, the suite of pieces is rendered in leather, chrome, and velvet, making for a sleek, sensuous mood.

Behind VIDIVIXI is designer Mark Grattan, who moved to Mexico City in 2017. It was there, where he also met his now business partner Adam Caplowe, that he found he could better flex his design muscles. With easier access to space and materials within a city full of newness and potential, Grattan’s ideas have flourished.

The past year has been one of great personal and professional growth for the designer, and he shared with Whitewall how his newfound confidence is laying the groundwork for risk-taking and further self-discovery.

WHITEWALL: What was the starting point for the VX 2020 collection? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create?

MARK GRATTAN: The 2020 collection started with our leather credenza, Switch Sideboard. In this case it was the contrasting graphic contour lines of the credenza that dictated and drove the additional pieces of the collection and the mood for the 2020 campaign imagery. The atmosphere for VX 2020 was a buffet of many different moments—moments in time, style, and locality. There is a vintage, retro, eighties, Art Deco influence, but also an East Asian influence as well. Tying together similar details within all these subdivisions helps merge all these completely different ideas harmoniously into one mood.

WW: How did that dictate the materials you were drawn to like leather, mirror, glass, and velvet?

MG: VX strives to arouse pleasure. And to me these materials do it best. Illusion, seduction, and reflection found in materials such as chrome and mirror create depth, energy, and mystery. Silky textures in velvet and leather can be synonymous with a touch of a well-nourished epidermis. It’s a practice on engaging your senses and those moments of desire we are taught to suppress and keep locked away.

WW: What is the story behind the Docked En Rio Platform Bed Frame, with its gorgeous mirrored platform you’d perhaps regret putting a mattress over?

MG: Docked En Rio was the first piece designed for the 2018 collection and set the tone for the rest of collection. When designing this piece, I believe I was searching for an object that was monarchial but approachable. Hold your head high but stay humble type of attitude. There is something very powerful about the form of this object, but the tufted fabric paneling helps balance its demeanor. That said, I would like to see this piece outfitted in hardwood or something cold like metal and see how cocky Docked En Rio can get. The process of prototyping Docked En Rio was one of our most difficult. Maintaining an architectural silhouette was very tricky. There were moments when it looked like it belonged in grandma’s bedroom—bulky, plump, and animated. Two years later, we continue to refine and perfect this piece, finding new solutions for manufacturing as it is becoming our best seller.

WW: How did your move to Mexico City change or impact your approach to object making?

MG: Mexico was the stick that broke the camel’s back. Without this country I’d still be holding up a stifled version of myself trying to keep up with it all; the version of me that couldn’t enunciate. When you’re broke in New York City and have limited access to processes and materials just because you don’t have the money, it’s such a sad and frustrating situation, especially if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to cut corners or improvise. Mexico continues to be my permanent artist residency. Mexico has given me the freedom to explore my curiosities about furniture and object making. I’ve learned how to have more compassion for myself and my process. And I’ve learned that patience is something we all need to practice more. Good things come to those who wait. Delayed gratification is an amazing theory (concept?) I heard first from my business partner, Adam Caplowe. I hold this very close and repeat to myself often.

WW: What was the inspiration behind the photo series you created for the Split Mirror piece?

MG: 2020 has been a year of self-reflection and accountability. I was on a path to great personal confusion up until the end of year 2019. VIDIVIXI was the only thing I had a clear understanding of. I did not realize how oppressed I was until I was freed from a controlling relationship—the relationship that actually brought me to Mexico in the first place. I needed to speak out like an animal that had been locked inside a cage for three years.

I decided the best way to celebrate my freedom was to put my vulnerability in front of this mirror and have a conversation with it. Adam, myself, and Jorge Abuxapqui shot this campaign in early April ahead of the BLM 2020 movement. The universe aligned the stars, took my hand, and led me through the door. It was time to hold myself accountable, and the timing could not have been better. 

WW: Recently, you’ve been more open about your identity in relation to your creative output. Has that openness affected at all what’s taking place in the studio now or next?

MG: The strength of this company has grown tremendously in the last year. Not because we’re getting the attention we deserve, but because we are finally getting to know who we are and are finally able to accurately draft VIDIVIXI’s mission statement. Like any relationship, those necessary discoveries take time. VIDIVIXI, Mark, Adam—we’ve all grown in so many different ways, and we have discovered things about ourselves that will continue to make us stronger. Because of this confidence I am feeling about my aesthetic, my little lonely life in Mexico, and VX, I suppose the company will be taking much greater risks. We’ve seen the storm approaching for some time now and it feels like it’s about to hit.

Designer InterviewsNew Era IssueSummer 2021

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