Arquitectura, Diseño y Mezcal

  • The Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura inhabits a modernist home designed by Arturo Chavéz Paz in 1952 on the north end of General Francisco Ramírez in Tacubaya, just below Chapultepec Park. (This Photo Courtesy of ADA)

  • The tunnel from the street into the property that now serves as headquarters for Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura.

  • A hint of what's inside: on the wall inside the tunnel, an illuminated diagram serves notice of the exhibition curated by Productora inside the main room of the house, "Assembly Manual."

  • From the street, visitors walk a stark white, sloping walkway that leads into the back gardens and circles into the open foyer of the home.

  • Another view of the stunning walkway into the Paz house.

  • A corner of the lush garden oasis blocking out the noisy city, the third largest in the world.

  • Andy and me enjoying a sip of mezcal atop the dozen of clay pots specially made for the winning installation by the studio Pedro & Juana.

  • Exhibition "Assembly Manual," which considers objects as "tiny buildings," complete with blueprint diagrams and the "craft of construction." (Photo Courtesy Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura)

  • Both exhibitions on view are featured in Archivo Impreso 02, available in both oversized print form and online. The publication is as much a catalog of the exhibitions as a magazine of exploratory essays by the team behind Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura.

  • Even a simple juice box involves clever design, give its full due by revealing the design diagram by for trademark. A spread out of Impresso 02, the online and print publication by Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura.

  • The Stitch Silla Chair by Adam Goodrum, released in 2008 for CAP Design Spa, Italy.

  • The Spirograph, released by U.S. game maker Hasbro in 1965, enabled kids of all ages to experiment with the art of the diagram.

  • From the Magno Collection by Indonesian designer Singgih Kartono, which we continue to carry at A+R, the radios and Toys for the Soul.

  • The folding Strida bicycle by British Designer Mark A. Sanders. The second iteration was produced by Areaware in 2005, the year A+R opened. It was one of our star attractions among a clientele eager to live life on 2 wheels.

  • A diagram of a deconstructed Strida Bicycle.

  • We nearly fell over at the sight of the Buddha Machine by Christiaan Virant. Another A+R first, we know the diagrams explaining this seemingly simple device fit perfectly with the exhibit.

  • Another A+R favorite, the flatpacked Sectional Globe for Geografia by Tokyo’s Design Drill and Marumo Printing.

  • Flatpacked tray.

  • View of exhibition, including an observation deck constructed into the platform.

  • It all begins as a diagram...

  • The Silla Chair by J&J John of Austria, circa 1865. It's genius lies not only its timely aesthetic and simple materials...

  • Assembly requires only 4 screws!

  • A peek into the office at Casa Barragan where Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura reside.

  • One of the 2 exhibitions inside the house was curated by Regina Pozo, the young director of Archivo. Entitled "Here & There," the show deals with identity and the discourse of design, particularly with every day objects. Even with something as mundane and disposable as toothpicks, it's all about the packaging.

  • A white anonymous vase cast with decorative Mexican flourishes contrasts with the iconic "Savoy" vessel by Alvar Aalto.

  • A prosaic spoon defined by design.

  • Design distinguishes: something as essential as water can come contained in very different packaging.

  • The main hall overlooks a reflecting pool in the back yard, lined for the event with the clay pots that were part of the night's installation.

  • As darkness fell, glasses were raised and spirits soared.

  • Francisco Torres Muñiz, a furniture designer and professor at Centro, generously gave us a peek behind the curtain of the city's design scene—including an invitation to this special event.

  • The main hall overlooks a reflecting pool in the back yard, lined for the event with the clay pots that were part of the night's installation.

Secrets are always best shared with the clink of glasses. So it was, clasping a tube of mezcal, that Andy and I entered a secret garden, well, more of a lush urban jungle, at the dead end of a gritty street named after General Francisco Ramírez in the Tacubaya quarter, just below Chapultepec Park, during our recent visit to Mexico City.

The garden was the backyard of a masonry fortress that architect Arturo Chavéz Paz built in 1952, some five years after his fellow tradesman Luis Barragan built his own home just two doors away. That equally austere structure of concrete and modernism has since been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Across the street from the Paz building is the former residence of another prominent architect, Enrique del Moral, who built Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). It’s now home to the art gallery, Labor. Tacubaya was once a place where the city’s elite built palatial homes, but in the last century its star dropped and recent efforts to lift it out of its doldrums have been lead by artists and other creatives, as is always the case.

It was at Casa Paz that we spent the last of our five nights in the city, on the invitation of a new friend here, Francisco Torres Muñiz. The handsome Spanish-born, Swiss-bred industrial designer has made Mexico City his latest home in the last few years, drawn by an invitation to teach at the design and media college, Centro. The house is now home to Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura, an organization devoted to showcasing design to the public thanks to the efforts of architect Fernando Romero and wife Soumaya Slim de Romero. (Fernando built the gleaming marvel Museo Soumaya, the contemporary art temple in town named after his late mother-in-law and funded by his father-in-law, Carlos Slim Helú, who Forbes has named the richest man in the world since 2010).

Archivo’s aim: “to stimulate and contextualize the everyday essence of design through an idiosyncratic, anti-academic curatorial approach.”

The Romero’s have amassed a collection of 1,300 industrial design objects, ranging from Bic pens to Apple devices to products by anonymous designers. The items are rotated in and out of storage for exhibitions here, along with other , along with other solicited contributions. During our visit, one of the exhibitions featured several items we, too, loved over the years at A+R, some no more (as noted in the captions above) and others still available, including the flatpacked Globes and Magno collection.

The April 8 party was the inaugural anniversary for Archivo at the new digs, and in addition to opening two exhibitions, the center unveiled in the yard the new Archivo Pavillion. The temporary installation is part of an initiative to transform the use of the garden into a space for public activities. More than 400 architects and designers from 36 countries competed in the contest hosted by Archivo and Domus International, which also co-hosted the magical evening. For more on the winner and the installation, see my posting. And for more on the party, scroll through the images, each captioned with more details of the space and the exhibition.

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Fired Up: A Garden Goes To Pots A+R is in Vogue
  • Que Tal Guera

    I’m glad you enjoyed DF! It’s an amazing city for art and design, and I’m always glad to see good things published about it. Most of my family and friends from the States won’t come visit me here because they only hear the bad news from the border.

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Rose Apodaca
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