Hola! My Facebook and Twitter followers will know this already (I couldn't help but post some pictures online), but I just got back from a week away in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Because of both of our work schedules, our 'winter holiday' turned into more of a May getaway for me and my boyfriend. But hey, I'm not complaining!
Not only was the weather sublime, the colour and design all over our resort and lining the downtown streets was festive, bright and totally eye-catching. Getting out of the 'Brandon bubble' and being able to see the world now and then keeps me inspired, refreshed, and the idea-tank full!
The first thing that hit me on the taxi ride to the resort after leaving the airport was the contrast in colour everywhere — everything seemed so much more intense and bright! Buildings, signage, even the terracotta roof tiles; we’re so used to seeing a multitude of browns, grays, and neutrals in Manitoba with very little colour contrast. Chile pepper reds, lime greens, turquoise, golden yellow, citrus orange ... rich jewel tones and primary colours could be seen on front doors, window trim, fences, light fixtures, banners, awnings, even store signage.
When it comes to the finishes and materials we use regarding architecture and design, obviously the climate and weather definitely play a role in what we select: from the stucco we put on our houses, to the textiles we throw on our backs ... in comparison to the bright and vibrant shades of Mexico, I returned to town feeling rather drab!
Window shutters, carved front doors, iron gates, door hardware — everywhere you looked there were design details to die for!
Some were decades old, some were new and made to look historic, but I was blown away by how charming and authentic the Mexican design aesthetic was. It was simplistic for the most part, but mixed with loads of embellishments and ornate intricacies.
One of my favorite buildings was the historic Hacienda Jalisco on the way up to San Sebastian: a 170-year-old mining guard, the house had gorgeous window casings, soaring ceilings with natural wooden beams, tromp l'oeil adorning the walls in each bedroom, huge wood burning fireplaces throughout, and original hand-carved furniture.
Rich in culture, the galleries of Puerto Vallarta were full of beautiful works done by local artists and those from abroad. In the high season, downtown Puerto Vallarta has Wednesday night Art Walks where the galleries remain open late and people are welcome to stroll from one to the next.
We walked for blocks, climbing stone and wooden steps up to quaint studios high above the main floor shops and restaurants ... wild colour and endless subject matter, it was amazing to see such variety all grouped together. Even the pieces around our resort were rife with colour and flare — if only I could have fit a canvas or two in my suitcase!
An art and handicraft lover's paradise, downtown Puerto Vallarta was chock-full of galleries, shops, work rooms, boutiques, and local mom-and-pop dining experiences.
I couldn't believe how crammed some of these places were along one city block, but that also lent itself to the charm you felt walking the cobblestone streets. We stopped in at an open-air glass factory, where row up row of everything imaginable made in glass lined the interior.
Next door was a hand-made tile factory, and above was the workroom where the tiles and even custom made vanity sinks were hand painted and baked. The one item I did manage to stuff into my suitcase was a beautiful hand-painted vessel sink ... I may not have plans to turn my home into a vibrant hacienda just yet, but the main floor bathroom will be getting a bit of a Mexican-style facelift this summer!
Magazines and design shows shot on location abroad can definitely give you a taste of what design in other parts of the world has to offer... but there's nothing quite like being immersed in the richness and history of it in real life. If you get the chance to travel, take in everything the local culture and industry has to offer - your homes, as well as your eye for design will reap the benefits!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 26, 2012