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.
Posted In: Architecture, Design, Event, Travel, Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura, Arturo Chavéz Paz, Carlos Slim Helú, DF, Domus International, Enrique del Moral, Fernando Romero, Francisco Torres Muñiz, Luis Barragan, Mexico City, Museo Soumaya, Pedro&Juana, Soumaya Slim de Romero, Tacubaya, UNAM, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México