El Bazaar Sábado, also known as “El bazar del sábado”, is a commercial space for Mexico’s traditional and contemporary design, folk art and craftmanship.
Bazaar Sábado opened its doors in 1969 at Doctor Gálvez’ street in San Ángel, and in 1965 changed its location to the well-known Plaza de San Jacinto #11, also in the old neighborhood of San Ángel, in Mexico City.
This important arts, design and crafts center has gathered the work of hundreds of Mexican artists, designers and craftmen and women whom, Saturday after Saturday, display unique examples of their knowledge and craftmanship captured in goldsmith, jewelry, ceramics, textile arts, gastronomy, fashion, among many others.
The American couple that founded Bazaar Sábado, Cynthia Sargent and her husband, Wendel Riggs, had the idea of creating an art market in an old house in San Ángel, where Wendell had previously installed a factory of wool rugs with looms and designs of his own.
They called it Bazaar Sábado, making an Anglo-Spanish hybrid expression with the idea of paying tribute to the country that opened its doors to them.
The project started with twenty artisans that thanks to this new space could establish direct contact with their customers, and had enough time to manufacture their products.
With this idea in mind and also not to let potential buyers interest dilute, they considered more appropiate to open only one day a week on Saturdays, thus initiating the cultural reference that Bazaar Sábado is nowadays.
It was not long before the growth of the project demanded a larger Budget than planned, and because of that, in 1962, Wendell Riggs went to Ignacio Romero, ehose wife, Eleanore Romero, was part of the Bazaar’s community of artisans, to consult him on this subject.
The solution was to make a partnership with five more friends and raise the necessary funds. Six were the first shareholders in the company. Unfortunately death surprised Mr. Riggs a year later, and Ignacio Romero was unanimously elected among the partners as the Bazaar Sábado’s director.
Soon after, the space located in Doctor Gálvez was no longer the proper size to contain so many artisans and visitors. Therefore, Romero had the idea of moving the Bazaar to a nearby location.
The credit of Bazaar Sábado’s current prestige is also his, since he promoted the expansión of contemporary design world-wide, as well as the participation of Mexican designers and artisans in international competitions, organizing cultural events within the Bazaar and the constant appearance in printed media.
Other initiative that kept visitors interested in the Bazaar throughout the year was the celebration of seasonal special activities –typical Mexican festivities– such as the installation of altars and Nativity –Christmas–scenes, by the hands of many artisans who slowly gained national and international recognition.
The beautiful colonial building that houses Bazaar Sábado is cataloged by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History as a monument from that time.
The house originally belonged to the Scherer family (the parents of Julio Scherer García, prominent Mexican journalist and writer) and was “brought back to life” by the architect Manuel Parra, who made important renovations to many houses in San Ángel and Coyoacán.
Architect Ruth Rivera Marín, daughter of thepainter Diego Rivera, also participated in the renovation works of Bazaar Sábado.
At the end of the renovation, on January 7th, 1965, Bazaar Sábado was reopened. The event was presided by the then Head of the Department of Tourism, Agustín Salvat, along with important figures of Mexican society such as Ruth Rivera and José Chávez Morado, director of the School of Design and Crafts at the time, among others.
It is now a tradition among Mexicans and foreign visitors to observe objects designed by talented hands; listen to Mexican music and taste many different flavors every Saturday of the year.
This activity goes back to the 1960’s, when Jesús Argüelles, then Director of Auxiliary Services of the Department of Tourism, recognized the work of Bazaar Sábado for its relevance for tourism in Mexico City.
Visiting this important art, design and artcfrafts Bazaar is part of travel agencies, hotels and cultural tourists itineraries, due to the iconic importance of the traditional neighborhood of San Ángel.
Bazaar Sábado is part of that cultural and historical –as well as contemporary– iconicity. As Emilio “El indio” Fernández wrote in the Bazaar’s book of distinguished visitors: “A Saturday in San Ángel is no a thing of the past, but of the presente of our eternal Mexico.”