How interior design blends cultures in Mexico’s best luxury destination
Can art help you feel safe? Is there a universal idea of comfort and what communicates it best? How to feel connected to the world still fragmented by a pandemic? A private paradise is the new normal for the global business elite. New York has set an all-time record for luxury property sales. The demand for townhouses in London is “the strongest in years”. Dubai has recorded its most expensive deals since 2015. Globally, wealth invested in luxury real estate increased 79% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic data. Mexico has always had a special appeal to American buyers due to its proximity, climate and culture. I did my first report on Punta Mita in 2018. Since then the private peninsula has welcomed new rental properties and nearby Punta de Mita has welcomed many new resorts. With the severe restrictions imposed by international lockdowns, people want to feel at home more than ever before, in the world. In response, interior design has become the powerful art form for connecting cultures for the truly globalized audience of digital nomads and travel savvy expats.
I connected with interior designers responsible for bringing the coveted I do not know what to two properties that are currently generating interest in the local resort and residential market. David Hall and Ashley Gillen of Paul Duesing Partners are the talented duo behind the look and feel of Susurros del Corazón, the newest member of the Auberge Resorts family. Located opposite the volcanic Marietas Islands, the property comprises suites and hotel residences with award-winning culinary and spa options. Yezmin Hadad of Hadad Interiorismo is the designer of El Surf Club, the “instantly legendary” spot in Punta Mita frequented by professional surfers and fans of this extreme sport. It is difficult to fulfill a desire for authenticity and high expectations for the best equipment as well as the “good vibes only” ethic that people have been lacking in recent times. These professionals manage to get by in a transparent way. What makes a house at the end of the world feel at the heart of cosmopolitan abundance?
How can global interior design trends manifest themselves in site specific designs?
Hadad: The main decoration trend at the moment is to be outside! [Laughs] We need to find a way to merge living and public spaces with nature. For example, what better place for a giant sofa than in the shade of a beautiful tree overlooking the ocean? We all love to smell wood, the textures of natural materials, to experience them in the purest form. This desire for a organic sentiment had a great impact on the project. Street art is a very popular medium these days. We have created our own palm tree wall graffiti that represent the rich flora of the surrounding Sierra Huicola. This urban environment staple so familiar to our guests has been updated in a tropical interpretation.
Hall & Gillen: We’ve embraced the trend towards greater simplicity and rekindled our appreciation for natural, hand-made, raw materials. Since its creation, this has been the development objective of Susurros del Corazón. We are happy to see it more widely realized and become a pioneer for the region.
How to align inspiration with the atmosphere of the place and the expectations of buyers?
Hall & Gillen: The original inspiration behind Susurros del Corazón was the concept of “brut” in various forms, depending on the local nature. In architecture we have used natural and bleached native wood, textured stone contrasting with bronze iron finishes and hand painted tiles. In furnishings, we focused on stunning fabric textures and unique Mexican objects and art. The other idea was to keep a very “high-low” contrast to make something accessible quite elegant. For example, silvery tones against raw wood or polished leather against textured linen. The appeal to many aesthetic sensibilities.
Hadad: The place was already magical. We only had to bring fun and color into nature itself. People are always looking for somewhere that is relaxed and stylish. Color is a big game changer in your everyday mood. It has the power to make you feel vibrant and happy and that is what you get when entering the Surf Club. Texture is a very important element and with a clean design we could bring out some interesting patterns to play with the light and shadows on the bar.
Considering the luxury construction boom, what drew you to this particular project?
Hall & Gillen: Our company has been in Mexico for as long as we have been in business. We have a very deep relationship with the people here who are now part of our daily life. The Riviera Nayarit was an exciting opportunity to enter a new place. We loved how close Susurros del Corazón was to the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta, but how remote it felt once you walked through the gates of the property. You can truly experience a unique ecosystem here!
Hadad: The Riviera Nayarit offers some of the most amazing aspects of Mexican hospitality. However, he also has a very personal connection to me. My uncle was one of the visionaries at the heart of this project. He believed in building sustainable places to set an example of a better Mexico that respects its most precious resource, nature. Thanks to Fernando Senderos Mestre, this vision has grown into Punta Mita, one of the most upscale luxury developments in Latin America. Working on this project gave me the chance to contribute to the legacy of a great Mexican people who shared incredible ideas and incredible dreams for this beautiful region.
How did you engage with the local culture and resources of Nayarit State and beyond?
Hadad: Our success for 20 years is based on the human factor. Our human relations are the most powerful tool that cannot be replaced by any CRM application. We work hard not only to create a beautiful space, but to create emotion. Therefore, we always try to involve local artisans! For this project, we were inspired by the Huicholes, one of the most important ethnic groups. The Wixarikas are known for their mysticism and craftsmanship. They create extraordinary pieces with colorful threads and beads. We loved their clever use of color for the dining room pendant lights. No wonder he has become a natural focal point in the club.
Hall & Gillen: We drew heavily on the culture of many parts of Mexico to create the history of this resort. We paid close attention to import as little as possible so that the space is imbued with authenticity. From bathroom tiles to furnishings, we’ve worked with Mexican manufacturers to develop bespoke pieces designed for the property. We have traveled extensively to work closely with local artisans to achieve the end results. Often times, there are many tequilas involved in the process! [Laughs] Each unique piece is accompanied by a story of friendship and true collaboration.
Which artists and artisans were involved in the creation of this project?
Hall & Gillen: We pride ourselves on our highly curated collection. When it comes to works of art, we have taken the less is more approach. The architecture itself is daring and can convey a strong presence without any particular support. The selected pieces specifically showcase the Mexican heritage. We have worked with Oaxacan artists Adan Paredes, Jacobo and Maria Angeles, Itzel Sanchez and Omar Hernandez as well as with Jane Maroni who is based in Punta Mita. We have also worked with professionals from Galerias Arther and Terra Cu in Guadalajara and Choya Rose in San José del Cabo to source our custom furniture and accessories. Custom lighting and hardware are sourced from Galerias Preciado and Teté, Arte, y Diseño in Tlaquepaque in the Jalisco region. Oh, and we are exhibiting the famous Barro Negro ceramics from Oaxaca. We have privileged authenticity and simplicity as guiding principles for each element of the property. It relates to the “raw” thought mentioned above. It is relevant both for the natural environment of the place and for the desires of today’s buyers.