Through the window of Mercedes Castillo’s NYC design studio, light streams onto a tall, beaker-like glass vase piled with fragrant lemons.
Nearby, on the designer’s inspiration board, a print of Miró’s The Magic of Color mirrors the fruits’ ovoid shape and vivid color.
The entire board is a riot of sunny, lemony hues—bright yellow is the Mercedes Castillo brand color. Lucio Fontana’s canary-colored, Arte Povera Spatial Concepts, expectations is squeezed next to the dual ovals of Ellsworth Kelly’s Yellow White. A photo of Wolfgang Laib, poised on his haunches sprinkling bee pollen on a white floor, is positioned next to photos of a similarly hued Gio Ponti globe lamp.
A Passion for Modern Art and Design
Born and raised in Spain, Mercedes grew up in a creative family. As a young adult, she completed postgraduate studies at Milan’s Domus Academy, then under the leadership of design pioneers Alessandro Mendini, and Ettore Sottsass, founder of Memphis design group.
“I have always admired the classic masters,” says Mercedes. “But I find my spirit is most drawn toward the modernists of the 20th century—in particular the abstract and more geometric forms of modern art.”
“My spirit is most drawn toward the modernists of the 20th century—in particular... geometric forms of modern art.”
Postmodernism and Mercedes Castillo's Spring 2017 Collection
The designer’s love affair with modern art is seen in her Spring 2017 debut lifestyle collections—shoes, handbags and jewelry hallmarked by clean lines, architectural shapes and bold color.
Many of the pieces use geo cutouts that play with “negative and positive geometry,” explains Mercedes. Leather is treated like fabric or paper—smocked, ruched and origami folded—to lend movement and “3D volume,” she adds.
The jewelry line, with its cutout circles and use of brass and enamel, pays homage to Sottsass and Brazilian sculptor Lygia Clark.
Clean-lined. Clear colored. Precisely edged. And something more. “There’s a purity in the Minimalists,” notes Mercedes. “It’s very much what we are doing with our designs.”