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The Timeless Beauty of Mexican Design & Style

CEO Khai Intela
Mexican design and style are known for their vibrant colors, rich textures, and soulful nature. The sun-drenched hues of burnt ochre and red ignite massive walls, while antique wooden doors with hand-forged iron clavos reveal...

Mexican design and style are known for their vibrant colors, rich textures, and soulful nature. The sun-drenched hues of burnt ochre and red ignite massive walls, while antique wooden doors with hand-forged iron clavos reveal cool, tiled salas with rustic colonial furniture. From brightly-tiled kitchens to sparsely-furnished rooms adorned with artful devotional displays, Mexican design elements reflect a rich cultural history and the creativity of the hands that made them.

For decades, the beauty and ingenuity of Mexican furniture, architectural elements, and handcrafted accents have captivated people all over the world. The soulful nature and character-rich details of these pieces have the power to transport us to the rural landscapes from which they originated. Mexican country elements, born in marketplaces, ranches, and workshops, have gracefully evolved over time, taking on new forms and adapting to contemporary contexts.

Mexican Design & Style: Overview Mexican Design & Style: Overview

Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr, renowned authors and design enthusiasts, have immersed themselves in the world of Mexican design and living. Through countless design pilgrimages, they have documented the beauty of Mexican antiques in their original contexts, from mercados and coffee plantations to remote haciendas and artists' studios. Their exploration of Mexican design and style has spanned many years and regions, both in Mexico and the American Southwest.

The Mexican design style, a spirited mix of native Indian and Spanish influences, embraces the use of natural materials, rich-hued colors, and textures. Minimally-furnished interiors blend handcrafted antiques with contemporary art and furniture, creating a pared-down elegance with an intriguing mix of old and new. Choice antiques feature hand-hewn hardwoods, pleasing proportions, original hardware, and innovative techniques of the craftsmen.

Unlike traditional American antiques, which are sought for their pristine condition, Mexican antiques are cherished for their imperfections. Carpenters, often self-taught, used the natural aberrations of beautiful woods to make individual statements. Knot holes became punctuation marks, wear marks and age added layers of charm, and even carved initials or numbers commemorating significant dates adorned the pieces.

Mexican Design & Style: Overview Mexican Design & Style: Overview

The complex appeal of Mexican design lies in its wear marks, age, and history. Each piece tells a story with multiple layers of old paint, personalized surfaces, native repairs, old nails, and worn edges. Mexican antiques, with their weathered surfaces and rustic charm, maintain their strength and authority, serving as a testament to the craftsmanship of their makers.

As these old-world treasures are restored and adapted for contemporary settings, they bring great pleasure to homeowners and design professionals alike. Cypress jail doors become unique console tables, old coffee mortars find new roles as decorative vessels, and corral gates are transformed into headboards. Even storage trunks, separated from their original wooden bases, are given new life with custom wrought-iron bases.

The allure of Mexican design and style extends far beyond its rustic origins. Today, it has taken root in elegant ranch homes in Montana, illustrious lofts in New York, luxe hotels and eco-conscious spas, tropical retreats, and contemporary homes throughout the U.S. and Mexico. The versatility and timeless beauty of Mexican antiques have found their place in a variety of architectural settings, adding warmth, history, and a sense of cultural heritage.

The world of Mexican craftsman is a rich tapestry of beauty and function. Every piece, from furniture to culinary vessels, architectural elements, implements, and religious objects, reflects Mexico's diverse landscape and influences. A visit to Mexico's villages and markets reveals the subtleties of local hardwoods, construction methods, hardware styles, and original uses. The craftsmanship and innovation astound, from unique dovetail joinery to hand-wrought iron hardware, old colonial wall stencils, and stucco finishes.

Mexican tables, the focal point of every home, hold a special place in family activities. From simple dining tables and benches found at market-stall restaurants, to grand display tables, each with its own subtle design characteristics, these handcrafted pieces serve as a gathering place for family meals and celebrations.

Mexican Tables Mexican Tables

The woods used in Mexican country furniture, such as mesquite, sabino (Mexican cypress), pine, heart pine, Spanish cedar, and parota, reflect the natural resources of the region. Each wood has its own unique quality, ensuring durability and repelling insects. The different states of Mexico have distinct furniture styles, from the minimalistic pine furniture of Chihuahua to the heavy mesquite and sabino styles influenced by Colonial traditions in Jalisco, Aguascalientes, and Guanajuato.

Mexican design is characterized by its intricate carved elements and utilitarian vessels. Old grain-measure boxes, tortilla presses, sugar molds, bateas (dough bowls), molcajetes (stone mortars), ceramic pots, and gourd bowls are just some of the culinary treasures that have found their way into modern homes. These objects not only serve functional purposes but also add wit and charm to their surroundings in new contexts.

Carved Elements Carved Elements

Storage trunks, or baúles, are treasured pieces in Mexican homes. Crafted from Spanish cedar, sabino, and mesquite, these trunks feature intricate lockplates, matching bases, and personal touches from their owners. They serve as storage spaces for valuables, records, and sometimes clothing, and their historical significance adds depth to any interior.

Armarios, or armoires, are grand cabinets used to store valuables and clothing. These impressive pieces often feature built-in drawers and carved or raised-panel full-length doors. Armarios were considered the most important and valuable furniture in Mexican homes, symbolizing wealth and status.

There is no shortage of variety when it comes to Mexican doors. From massive entrance doors with oversized clavos to colorful doors found in villages and towns, each has its own unique style and story. Mexican doors have found new life in contemporary settings, serving as doors on entertainment units, closets, and master bedrooms, or even as headboards and tables. The simplicity and time-honored presence of these doors add a touch of history to modern interiors.

Color and texture play a vital role in Mexican architecture and design. Walls bathed in vibrant hues and adorned with colonial-style stencil patterns or contrasting wainscots bring life to interiors. Lime-based paints and stucco finishes, favored for their compatibility with stone walls and resistance to UV light, continue to be celebrated by architects and preservationists. The use of natural color pigments adds to the enduring beauty of Mexican design.

The timeless appeal of Mexican design and style lies in its ability to evoke a sense of history, cultural heritage, and craftsmanship. Each piece tells a story, reflecting the creativity and skill of its maker. Whether it's an old wooden door, a hand-carved table, or a rustic storage trunk, Mexican design elements bring warmth, character, and a touch of the past to contemporary living spaces.