Utilitario Mexicano uses two words to describe its approach: util sólamente, useful only. What began as an unexpected opportunity—to settle a debt for design work, creative couple Enrique Arellano and Libia Moreno were offered a pop-up space—has turned into a passion project.
Enrique, a graphic designer, and Libia, a textile designer, had moved to Mexico City from Colombia, and fallen in love with the everyday objects at local markets. And so, for their overnight emporium, they decided to become “street curators” and showcase their favorites: things like enamelware mugs, aluminum funnels, stove sandwich toasters, and rose-colored lightbulbs, all made in Mexico.
That was five years ago. Utilitario Mexicano is now a collection of 1,000-plus items, and both a Mexico City and online hit. It’s where we currently can’t stop browsing—with thanks to designer Cheryl Katz for introducing us. And has earned a spot on our shortlist of favorite shops for everyday essentials (scroll to the end for some of UM’s compadres).
Photography by Khaled Aboumrad unless noted, courtesy of Utilitario Mexicano (@utilitariomexicano).
On the top shelf against the wall, note the Arullo Chair 2012, $236, and 1950, $226. They’re beloved designs by Mexican architect Oscar Hagerman—the first is his improved version of “the basic, old town village chair,” says Enrique. “For sixty years, he kept the chair in mind and in 2012, he presented the update.” The chairs are made by Canto Artesanos, “a group of carpentry workshops that received personal training from Oscar.”
Above: The shop’s signature stamped boxes. Utilitario Mexicano is at Calle Marsella 3a in Mexico City’s Colonia Juárez.
Here are eight more of our favorite shops specializing in the useful and humble: