Opening Ceremony Loved Her Work. Now, Artist Sofía Elías Has A Business Of Her Own
The Mexico City-based artist and designer behind her own line, Blobb, on getting her start and finding a niche.
Photos by Diego Rdz Flores
"State of the Art" is a monthly column that explores the world of artists and creatives, offering an exclusive insight into their unique perspectives and creative processes.
If there's someone 'hacking' the creative scene in Mexico City, it's Sofía Elías (@Sofíahellyes). The Mexico-based multidisciplinary artist, originally from Guadalajara, founded her renowned brand, Blobb, while she was still a student. Her miniature sculptures, including rings and bracelets, have graced the bodies of celebrities like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid. @_blobb has engaged in numerous exciting collaborations, including Opening Ceremony, Mowalola, and Kiko Kostandinov.
Sofía's creations are hard to miss, known for their vibrant burst of colors and a candy-like aesthetic. It's not surprising that her work perfectly mirrors her fun, quirky, and vibrant personality.
To me, 'Hacking It' isn't just about discovering new ways to navigate the creative sphere—it's also about challenging the status quo. Sofía has not only stamped her mark as an artist but has also successfully preserved her creative ethos, despite Blobb's growth and international acclaim. Throughout her journey, she has learned to challenge established rules of functionality and the manufacturing processes behind objects. This is precisely what makes all her creations unique.
Dive into our conversation, below.
Diego: I understand that Blobb's inception was quite organic, one might even say accidental. It all began with your architecture thesis, where you opted to craft a model playground named 'Playing to Play.' Could you share some insights into your learnings during the creation of this model and the research that informed it?
Sofía: Absolutely, this is one of my favorite topics. During my five-year architecture journey, I often felt constrained by the demands of the projects. Whenever I had an idea, it seemed to collide with the barriers of budget, regulations, and rules.
But things took a turn with my thesis. I decided to design a playground, but not your conventional one, with a pre-determined use. In the process of crafting my model, I started experimenting with crazy materials. For my models, I needed something lightweight yet strong, so I created a mixture right in my kitchen – cornstarch and pigments. This became the material for the swings in my model. With the extra stuff, I made rings for myself (yes, handmade). I loved how they looked, so I wore them all the time. Soon, my friends were asking for them, and then stores wanted them too.
For my thesis, I chose a hands-on approach, much like Calder's circus, meticulously crafting every detail. I remember my thesis review day vividly. I walked in wearing seven different hairpins, blue mascara, and my model shimmered with glitter, bits of bubble gum, and strands of spaghetti. My teacher, surrounded by glitter, said, "It's lovely to see that your project is a reflection of you." Back then, I didn't quite get it, but over time, I've realized that the things I create are more "me" – in a way they reflect my essence.
Diego: How does your art benefit from the influence of children's thinking and playfulness, and why is connecting with your inner child important in your creative process?
Sofía: My research for my thesis and playground design was child centric. I have many nephews, and I actively engaged with them, asking questions, and involving them in my project. What's fascinating is that children think and imagine in such pure and unfiltered ways. They haven't yet learned what's "right" or "wrong" in the eyes of others, and there's a beautiful simplicity in their approach to life. This connection with my inner child is a deeply meaningful aspect of my process. Through my work, I aim to regain this childlike purity. But I also want to invite adults to rediscover their inner child. For example, when adults sit in my chairs, no matter how put-together or serious they look, there's often a spontaneous laugh or smile – falling with a chair when you sit on it can be funny! I strive to find the fun side of things with my creations.
Diego: Your background in architecture emphasized functional and detailed designs, but with Blobb, you've embraced imperfections in your sculptures. Can you share how this dichotomy impacts your creative approach and why imperfections are a key part of what makes each Blobb piece unique?
Sofía: Interestingly, I have a very meticulous side, which you can see in my drawings and notes. If something isn’t perfect or precise, I start over. However, with Blobb, I allow myself to be free and playful. I remember a friend suggesting ways to make my first 'Pofi Chair' prototype more stable, but he didn't understand that everything was intentional, which actually made the construction more challenging! I wanted it to be fun and unexpected. I wanted these interactive soft sculptures to look like freshly painted chairs, giving them this melted cake frosting aspect. I played with the idea of a chair falling/standing up with you and hugging you when you sit on it.
Embracing imperfections yields organic, unconventional results. Crafting without molds makes the process more laborious, but it also makes each piece unique and adds to their 'perfect imperfections,' as I like to call them. This ethos is present in every Blobb product, including the rings. That's why I consider them mini sculptures for the body.
Diego: In my experience buying a Blobb ring, it felt like the ring chose me. Is this shopping experience intentional?
Sofía: Yes, I'm convinced the ring chooses you, much like Cinderella's slipper. Traditional sizing, whether in clothing or shoes, falls short because no two bodies are the same, especially when it comes to fingers! I love the versatility; you can wear Blobb rings on different fingers. Beyond being chosen, owning a Blobb ring is like caring for a Tamagotchi—avoid water and hand sanitizer, and take it off when washing hands to keep it pristine.
Diego: How has experimenting with unconventional materials like pasta and chewing gum optimized your artistic perspective?
Sofía: My primary focus has been the exploration and understanding of the engineering properties of various materials. This includes studying their drying characteristics, flexibility, and capacity for support. This exploration eventually led to the creation of bracelets during my experiments with recycled plastic. Furthermore, I've been working on bags (not available for sale yet) with handles crafted from the same material due to its exceptional flexibility and adjustability.
It's an ongoing process that feels like a continuous learning game, where I've made some fascinating discoveries. One of the most intriguing findings has been with pink pigment. Its behavior in plastic, resin and other materials differs significantly from other colors. My friends in ceramics can attest to this, we’re all captivated by the unique behavior of pink.
Diego: What was Blobb's pivotal moment of international recognition?
Sofía: Back when I was juggling studies and a full-time job, Opening Ceremony (we miss it 😢) placed a substantial order for approximately 180 rings from Blobb. I remember thinking, 'OMG, how am I going to pull this off?' Fortunately, we succeeded, and my rings became a part of their 'Year of Mexico' campaign, marking my first international sale during Blobb's early days.
Shortly afterward, I had my first collaboration with Mowalola. Initially, she expressed interest in purchasing Blobb rings, but we ended up collaborating instead. There was no upfront payment or formal contract, but we produced the items. I blindly trusted her, and, of course, she compensated me later on.
Two months later, she reached out, informing me that the rings were sold out, and we completed a second production batch. The collaboration went exceptionally smoothly, and Mowalola was really cool; she granted me creative freedom.
Diego: After years in Mexico City, how has living here and being part of the art scene impacted your creative process?
Sofía: When I first came to Mexico City, I had doubts, but now I wouldn't trade it for any other place. The city's diversity of people like musicians, ceramicists, and filmmakers, has greatly influenced my creativity. It's like a melting pot of perspectives. I've also had the chance to collaborate with fellow creatives, including Aarón from 'Varon' jewelry, and it was a fantastic learning experience. The sense of community and mutual support among creatives is key.
Diego: What advice would you give to emerging artists or designers?
Sofía: Stay true to yourself, that's what made my business grow. I didn't lose my essence when collaborating with bigger brands.
Instead of working less, work more when the brand is growing, and aim to continually improve the quality of what you make. But more importantly, don't stop believing, and don´t stop playing.
Stylist: Bicho (@bichoisus)