Thursday, June 13, 2024

An international business that flourishes in Mexico

Jeffry Weisman and Andrew Fisher of Fisher Weisman never expected Mexico to ignite their artistic and business pursuits to the level they have reached. Discover their inspirational expat story and their work in our expanded video coverage, with an inside look into their exotic world of design.  

As a couple in business together, Mexico has much to offer

“When Andrew and I met, we lived between my home – classical, minimalist, zen –  and Andrew’s – boldly creative, whimsical and baroque,” Jeffry Weisman tells MND. “Our homes reflected our personalities,” he continues – and are what made their powerhouse design company, Fisher Weisman, so vibrant, productive and successful. These two designers from San Francisco have been married for 20 years and have lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the last eight years. Since arriving in Mexico, their homeware design business has expanded to encompass a thriving gallery space, Andrew’s burgeoning art career, a new jewelry line and some compelling new business affiliations.

“Andrew is the brilliant eccentric artist who hides away in his studio around the clock, and I’m the one constantly on the phone, in business meetings and getting our designs into the world. I do name the collections and pieces though – yes, I am the business mind, but I live and breathe my passion for art and design every day,” Jeffry tells MND. 

Their signature chandeliers made of sisal rope,  and an exotic shell-encrusted  lighting piece (Courtesy: Erik Zavala)

Moving to Mexico allowed us more space to think, and transform our craft

The year 2000 saw the launch of their luxury interior design business in San Francisco, and, after quickly gaining success, they acquired a ranch in Sonoma County which ended up “consuming all of our time and resources,” Jeffry says. For a long time, they’d had the idea of living part-time in Mexico. “Perhaps on the beach,” says Andrew. “But then we realized we were more drawn to cities because there’s a broader range of things to do.”  

When Jeffry’s sister visited San Miguel in 2010, she had a gut instinct that it was the ideal city for the couple. Four weeks later, they received an unsolicited offer to sell the ranch that was too good to pass up. “Talk about synchronicity, or some kind of magic,” says Jeffry. “In March 2011, we closed escrow and headed to San Miguel de Allende for a week. We were smitten on the spot.” By day two, they were arranging to look at houses for sale.

Fisher Weisman gallery space, showcasing design, Andrew’s fine art and jewelry (Courtesy: Erik Zavala)

The hand-crafted custom-made furniture in Mexico fueled our creativity

An Intimate Look Inside the Artistry and Culture of Fisher Weisman Collection

“Mexico’s artisans have rejuvenated our creative spirit,” Jeffry tells MND, “We were astounded at the number of gifted local artisans, and commissioned a variety of custom pieces for our home.” The colors, culture and devoted craftsmanship of their surroundings have energized them to dream up new designs in collaboration with artisans, for export to the United States. So began the Fisher Weisman Collection in 2015, which offers a vast range of decorative lighting, desks, tables and accessories through a network of 15 designer showrooms across the U.S. “Our focus has been working with Mexican materials and artisanal craft techniques in entirely fresh ways, inspired mostly by my partner, Andrew Fisher’s, artwork,” Jeffry says.

Playing with form, materials and light (Courtesy: Erik Zavala)

Jeffry went on to muse on what their work process looked like when living in the U.S., where current design trends lean more towards a clean style with sharp edges. Andrew started experimenting with organic forms only after he had spent some time in Mexico, where for example, handwoven textiles can constitute the functional elements of chandeliers. To their surprise, their more playful, organic designs, dreamed up in Mexico, have become very popular commercially and within the design world. Their new life in Mexico has essentially inspired them to continue creating new collections- which has become the company’s signature work. 

Much of the fabrication is done by women who are able to earn a decent living working with Fisher Weisman, whilst also being able to work at home with their children. One of the charitable organizations in town that Jeffry and Andrew support, Apoyo a Gente Emprendedora, helped them source the community of women workers and helps women in the process of opening a bank account. 

Tables under construction! (Courtesy: Erik Zavala)

We work with a multicultural community of artists in San Miguel

“To work up-close with these Mexican masters of their crafts has been the motivating force for our ingenuity and work ethic. We owe it all to them; we respect the lineage from which a lot of them hail, their work ethic, and their passion for their craft. Our success is their success also.” 

Jeffry and Andrew collaborate with several herreros to build the frames for their lighting, and some pieces of furniture. Papier-mâché, which has been used for generations in Mexico to make dolls and masks, is one of their favorite local textures. They wrap steel frames with it and fabricate decorative drops which they either gild or paint, instead of using crystal or glass. 

Woman working at home, using traditional techniques (Courtesy: Erik Zavala Photography)

Many of their chandelier designs incorporate sisal rope from Merida. “We adore working with the bronze foundry we found near San Miguel. Using the lost wax casting process, we make dramatically sculptural legs for desks and tables,” Andrew tells us. “And we love using Papel Amate, a veneer made from the bark of ficus trees, to cover desktops and table tops,” Jeffry adds.  

Though they use some imported wood in their design, Fisher Weisman often constructs their desk and table top, using two tropical hardwoods from Mexico, parota and tzalam. “For the finishing touches, we work with paints and metallic leaf to create the fine finishes on our lighting and furniture, which has become one of the signatures of our designs.” 

As an artist, Mexico gives you freedom to play 

A Look Inside the New Fisher Weisman Collection Showroom in San Miguel de Allende

More recently, Fisher Weisman has set up Chic AF Mexico, a line of classical, yet playful, jewelry, crafted almost entirely by women working at home. They’re currently in the beginning phase of rolling out the jewelry line in the U.S. “Last year was so exciting for us, with the opening of our own Fisher Weisman Collection gallery in a superb 17th century building in San Miguel’s centro histórico,” Jeffry enthuses. 

“Andrew and I focus our time on the product businesses based in San Miguel and Andrew’s studio art – but just a few weeks ago we also launched our first licensed collection for Visual Comfort (formerly Circa Lighting).” This presents Fisher Weisman the opportunity to design in an unlimited range of materials and techniques for a much broader audience in the U.S. and Mexico. “We keep playing! Mexico presents such vibrancy, color and a bit of the surreal. It fires you up as an artist!” Andrew says. 

One thing’s for sure: this delightful design duo’s collaboration with the artisans of San Miguel de Allende have allowed Fisher Weisman to evolve, expand, think out of the box and head towards further success. “A lot of it comes down to our love and reverence for Mexico and her people,” Jeffry concludes with a big grin. 

Henrietta Weekes is a writer, editor, actor and narrator. She divides her time between San Miguel de Allende, New York and Oxford, UK. 

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