Ancient Mexican tradition of Otomi embroidery is making its way into our homes

The pent-up yearning for travel and a longing for vivid colours are set to determine interior taste this autumn. 

This means getting ready to welcome into your home pieces that can take you on a journey and brighten up a neutral interior. 

Otomi embroidery pieces from Mexico, now being seen in some of the smartest homes, are prime examples of this globetrotting, life-enhancing decor movement. 

People who a few months ago were unable to even pronounce Otomi — and were dismissive about folkloric style in any form — are now enthusing about this exuberant craft work with its millennia of heritage. 

Hand-crafted: A Moppet alphabet wall hanging with its menagerie of stylised birds and animals. The Otomi tradition has been passed down from mother to daughter for centuries

They will proudly tell you that Otomi (ohto-me) originates in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains of Hidalgo — and that its rainbow-hued depictions of the local flora and fauna may even be modelled on cave paintings. 

The area’s lush vegetation — the tropical and subtropical pine forests at the higher levels are one of its features — provides another key inspiration. 

The techniques of the embroidery have been passed on from mother to daughter over the centuries. 

The scenes and figures are hand-drawn then hand-sewn. Such is the appeal of the Otomi aesthetic, with its menagerie of stylised birds and animals, such as deer, doves, rabbits and squirrels, that its patterns have appeared on scarves from Hermes, the French fashion house. 

The designs first came to international attention in the 1960s. But it is only recently that they have started filtering into British homes. 

Their arrival seems to have been speeded up by the discontent that arose during lockdown with grey and beige which, though elegant, often failed to bring cheer. 

The growing appeal of Mexican and other Latin-American craft items is encouraging homewares companies that already focus on ethnic embroidery pieces to find ways to move into the area, but with sensitivity to cultural traditions. 

Moppet is one example of this migration. The business specialises in hand-embroidered alphabet wall hangings, made by craftspeople in Kashmir, India. 

Each letter is accompanied by an animal, a person or a thing. Laura Cremer, Moppet’s founder and chief executive, says that these pieces serve as both art work and educational tools: ‘They add pattern, stories and lives from another part of the world.’ 

When it becomes feasible, Cremer plans to add wall-hangings from Peru and Mexico. 

But if you’d prefer to give a subtle nod to the vogue for Otomi with just a single item, the Otomi collection at Mary Kilvert includes a cushion (£55), a mug (£12.95) or a tea towel (£12). 

Wayfair has several Otomi prints, such as Otomi Colours (£109.44) and Otomi Love (£45.99) both by Sylvie Demers. Not On The High Street has a round mirror surrounded by tassels in Otomi eyepopping shades (£20).

Redbubble, meanwhile, a marketplace for independent artists, appears to have anticipated the demand for Otomi patterns in every room with bed throws (from £34.64), a shower curtain (£51.46), cushions (from £12.46) and a mouse pad (£16.17). 

Otomi’s allure lies in its eye-popping tones, but it is possible to like the iconography but long for more subtle shades. 

Andrew Martin offers Omoti Dove wallpaper, featuring birds and beasts against a background of cactus green, desert beige, dove grey or powder blue (£75 a roll). 

Sitting pretty: : Graham & Green’s Mexicana pouffe, £195

Sitting pretty: : Graham & Green’s Mexicana pouffe, £195

The proliferation of Mexican and Latin-American pieces suggests the British are ready to embrace vivid colour and patterns. 

Graham & Green has a king-sized tapestry bedcover in a print that evokes the paintings of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist (£115). 

The same print is available on an armchair (£395) or a tablecloth (from £25). And Oka has a lava red alpaca wool throw (£325). 

Budget home furnishing store Dunelm, meanwhile, offers the Corona line of furniture; solid rustic pieces with a 19th century Mexican farmhouse feel including a bed frame with a high footend (£169 to £249) and a storage trunk with a metal lock (£95). 

B&M has a similarly solid range, with pieces like the Rio, a dining table with four chairs (£80). 

Travel to Mexico and other Latin-American countries may be difficult now. But that doesn’t stop you admiring a wonderful Otomi cushion and starting to plan.


Subtle lighting is flattering to the complexion and makes a room appear cosier and more inviting. 

But, as the evenings grow darker, something brighter is required. This is why your home needs a reading lamp to stop members of your family complaining that ‘they can’t see a thing in this gloom’. 

The Hektar reading lamp from IKEA (£50) has a slightly retro look, but it also possesses a useful contemporary feature: wireless charging for your phone ( 

Light touch: Dunelm has two styles that would suit a country-type decor: the Logan (pictured, £35) and the lever arm antique brass (£32)

Light touch: Dunelm has two styles that would suit a country-type decor: the Logan (pictured, £35) and the lever arm antique brass (£32)

Dunelm has two styles that would suit a country-type decor: the Logan (£35) and the lever arm antique brass (£32. 

You may decide that being able to read without screwing up your face and causing wrinkles is a wise investment. 

Your choice includes an Anglepoise, an iconic piece of British design that comes in many different sizes and colours (from £100) and the Tolomeo ­Basculante from the Italian Artemide group. This costs £334, but if the lamp is used for ten years, this works out at 0.09p a day

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