Cool Kids Grown Up
How José & Mariana’s love partnership led them to create their own decor brand Coolpebbles
José & Mariana had no idea a simple drink in a bar on their first date at college would lead them to spend their life together, setting up their own business and creating the coolest, quirkiest decor collections we’ve seen in a while.
While they had both started their University careers studying something different - Mariana in art history and José in architecture - it was a chance change of plan on both of their parts that brought them to switch over to the industrial design course where they met and fell in love over seven years ago.
Born and bred in a family of designers, José knew since a very young age that his life would involve some form of art. For Mariana, however, the path was a bit less straightforward. “My family is full of accountants, so I’ve always been regarded as a bit of black sheep,” she laughs. “While José was that child at school who never paid attention to the lesson and would always be found doodling by the teachers!”
After graduating from college, José and Mariana both started exploring the furniture design world, while playing around with side projects creating small items, making prototypes, and seeing where that led them. During college, they’d had the chance to meet some artisan communities that they’d kept in touch with, and that made the process all that much easier when they were commissioned for their first solo project. A Japanese restaurant in Mexico City was looking to redesign their tabletops, so José and Mariana designed and produced a beautiful collection of wooden plates that kickstarted what would eventually become their brand, Coolpebbles.
Just like a chance project had started their business, it was another, more dramatic, stroke of destiny that pushed José and Mariana to take their brand to the next level. In 2020, the multiple lockdowns pushed people to not only spend more time at home but also to exclusively shop online. Mexico saw a real surge in interest for smaller retailers, family businesses, and local brands, which José and Mariana took advantage of fully.
Pushed by their personal experience of sharing a space in lockdown with a personal and professional partner, José and Mariana used their own routines and learning curves to develop products that would turn the things of everyday life into little wellbeing rituals: lighting their Spin Candle for a joint morning yoga practice, enjoying a cup of coffee in the quirky Chunky Mug, tending to small plants in their Terrarium Planters, or burning some incense in the Sombrero Incense Holder.
While today Mariana deals with all things marketing and social media and José mostly takes care of the designs, both are adamant that their products wouldn’t be the same without the active collaboration of the artisans they work with. Keen to move away from the narrative where designers are saving artisans from oblivion by helping them to perpetuate their crafts, José works collaboratively with each of the artisans, and the final products are always a meeting of two minds, something in between the initial design and what traditional crafts the artisans may have been making for centuries.
The name Coolpebbles itself is inspired by the dedicated craftsmanship needed to create each product. Just like pebbles are smoothed over by centuries of erosion, so do a chunk of wood or volcanic rock need the care and skill of artisans' hands to be worked into something softer and more comforting. “Plus, in Spanish Coolpebbles sounds like culpable, the word for guilty… And we are definitely guilty of creating cool things!’” José explained with a cheeky smile.
Bound by their love for the craft and, judging by the spark in their eyes, for each other, José and Mariana have come a really long way from that date at college. “Honestly, today Coolpebbles is like our baby,” José laughs. “We live, breathe and dream all things Coolpebbles all the time, from new creative inspirations to manufacturing techniques, to artisan partnerships and product launches. Being able to share it with the rest of the world is a true privilege for us.”
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