An end of summer getaway to Cabo San Lucas was — HOT! Deciding to go to Mexico in the low season was great for a more peaceful and less crowded holiday. Yet it also happens to be the hottest month of the year. But who is really going to complain when you're surrounded by turquoise ocean, golden beaches, and all the shades and scents of simmering foreign life? This was my second time to Mexico, and like Puerto Vallarta, I was impressed with the colours, sights, and sounds of Cabo.
I'm starting to notice a theme with contemporary-Mexican design: neutrals — like tan, burlap, linen, cream, pearl, sand, and abalone — are almost always paired with dark and vibrant accent colours. The more foyers, lobbies, higher-end restaurants, and even hotel rooms we saw, the more this concept was aesthetically solidified. Light upholstered furniture paired with punchy accent pillows, cream walls mixed with spicy feature walls. The combination of light and dark was everywhere. I'm inspired to switch things up a bit in my living room this fall: out with the turquoise and blues; and in with chocolates, ambers, ebony, and even oranges.
GLASS, TILE, MOSACIS
Synonymous with Mexican style, I never tire of seeing the multitude of glass, mosaics, and tile throughout their buildings. Even in their street/sidewalk design. As was also found at our hotel in Puerto Vallarta, the use of back-lit onyx for light fixtures, bar tops, and even column cladding was luxe and modern, and created an amazingly intimate atmosphere at night. Doorways, flooring transitions, and above windows glimmered with broken pieces of mixed tile and glass shards. Mixing these materials with the smooth stucco and sleek stone found on most modern buildings made them stand out even more. Mexico has become a lot about a myriad of textures and tangible surfaces for me — the play on smooth, rough, sleek, cool, and warm is found in the smallest of design details.
Most of the shops, restaurants, and lobbies we spent time in all had a common element threaded among them: the most amazing contemporary art. I'm a sucker for oversized, abstract, textural artwork — something with slightly mixed media and a subtle organic feel to it. These pieces were found everywhere. Much more outspoken than our typically more subdued North American take on 'out there' art, Mexican design isn't afraid to embrace wild colour and flare. The key is that most of the other furnishings and decor in spaces adorned with bold paintings and prints is very toned down and calming. The balance this creates allows brash art to make a statement, yet not overtake the space completely.
In the luxury Puerto Paraiso (collection of high-end shops and boutiques along the marina area) one store literally lit up right in front of us. Strung with hundreds of hand-made glass mosaic lanterns, the intricate patterns and intrinsically joyful colours were gorgeous. Lighting in general in modern Mexico is amazing — the play on moods and atmospheres during different times of the day and night create the ultimate in warmth, shimmer, and coziness.
Not in the ever so common 'espresso' sense (seen in nearly every new Brandon kitchen), but more so the exotic and 'chocolate' sense: the contrast of cool waters, tepid sands, and azure skies is enriched with the use of buttery grained hard and softwoods, stained in deep browns and ebonies. I've fallen in love with this look. Furniture, stair railings, wood beams, interior doors, trim and casings — the result is masculine and romantic all the same.
I hadn't travelled much at all before the spring of last year, but now I have the bug. Seeing design in different parts of the world is motivating and incredibly enriching, to say the least.
» Crispin Butterfield owns Urban Theory Interior Design, and has been designing residential and commercial spaces in Brandon and abroad for the past nine years. She welcomes your inquiries at designchick.ca
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 29, 2012