Gabriela Bustamante

The people around the Latin American Design Foundation

Gabriela Bustamante Castillo

Gabriela Bustamante studied Industrial Design at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City from 1985-1990. She started working as a designer at UNIVERSUM in the Museo de las Ciencias (Science Museum) where she developed the museographics, like displays and interactive games for the permanent exhibitions about astronomy, biodiversity and ecology. In 1991 she formed a group of free-lance designers that developed furniture designs and prototypes for a group of private investors. The year after that, she also designed a line of aluminum articles for Maquiladora Fénix, an exporting company in Chihuahua, North México.

A new market opportunity and the will to set up an own venture lead her to the start of a customer driven health concept based on organically produced specialty bread. Both by direct sales by the ‘El Buen Pan’ sales force and sales through store sales channels, the concept grew fast into different markets. In Cuernavaca, Mexico, she also developed a store-in-store concept for the ‘El Buen Pan’ brand that used existing ‘healthy food outlets’ to sell its products.

During the four years of the growth of the company, she followed various courses like “Diseño del Mueble” (furniture design) at the architecture faculty of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and a course in “Gestión Empresarial” (management of companies) at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (I.T.E.S.M.).
After this entrepreneurial experience, she dedicated two years raising her daughter in Geneva, Switzerland, meanwhile studying French and building a contact network scene, where she analyzed the opportunities of the development of the design and commercialization of Mexican design and Craftsmenship abroad.

When she returned to Mexico City in 1997, she resumed with the previous free lance designers company “El Trueque” that has successfully created design concepts and products, that were sold throughout Mexico City.

When she was asked to work in the government sponsored development project for the commercial development of native craftsmen, she moved to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. There she supported four communities of craftsmen in order to improve their production processes, their distribution and marketing possibilities and stimulating to inspire them into using their creativity in the design process for their traditional skills.

In 1999, she also joined Guajuye SA de CV, Blown Glass Factory in San Miguel, as head of the design department. At Guajuye she was responsible for designing all new product lines, management of the overall design process and setting up and maintaining the database driven administration of the Guajuye catalogue, which consisted out of more than 3000 items. For this catalogue, she also lead the project to make it available through a web based interface on the internet. She managed customer relations with international customers in the USA, Europe and Australia. The cooperation with the Ferreti Iron Design Company introduced her to the design of glass and metal objects. During the 2 years she worked at Guajuye, she organized various international trade show exhibitions.

In 2001 she moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. There she started up The Latin American Design Foundation.

In september 2002, she started a full-time two-year masters course in the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands: 'Man and Humanity'. This masters is focusing on humanitarian design and sustainable style.

From 2002 on, she was fully comitted to projects of the Latin American Design Foundation, initiating them, managing them and trying to find support and funding. For LADF, she works as an advisor for Dutch Design in Development and some other organizations, adding value with her experience and network in design projects.

In 2005, she started Latin Sisters Design Productions in Amsterdam, together with the Argentinean archirect Caro isern. Next to that, she is the driving force behind Otro Diseno, a design store and event organizer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.