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Book preview: Design inspiration from Mérida and beyond

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The Valladolid home of Coqui Coqui's Nicolas Malleville and Francesca Bonato. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
The Valladolid home of Coqui Coqui’s Nicolas Malleville and Francesca Bonato. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

When you open a home-décor magazine and see a flamboyant pasta-tile bathroom — not in Mérida, but on Long Island, N.Y. — you have witnessed Yucatán’s growing influence in the world of art and design.

It’s only natural that Yucatán’s distinctive, worldly style would be on the world’s radar as Yucatán continues to attract and inspire some of the world’s most exciting artists and designers.

Over the years, Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter have documented some of the best residential design in the U.S. and Mexico. Puerto Vallarta, Litchfield and Los Angeles have all had a share of this duo’s spotlight. Much to our delight, their new book focuses on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Hacienda Petac. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
Hacienda Petac. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

Casa Mexico: At Home in Mérida and the Yucatán takes readers on an insider’s tour of a range of private residences — from brightly painted town houses to contemporary villas to rustic bungalows.

Look who cooperated with the publication of this book: Among them are architect Manolo Mestre, artist Jorge Pardo, Los Angeles modernist antiques dealers Robert Willson and David Serrano, Nicolas Malleville of Tulum’s famed Coqui Coqui hotel, and the architect-designer team of Salvador Reyes Ríos and Josefina Larraín Lagos, who have been game-changers among their peers.

Plantel Matilde. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
Plantel Matilde. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

Casa Mexico is published by Rizzoli and will be released April 19. (Available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.mx, and expected to be in stock at Sanborns.) Here is an excerpt, printed with permission from the author:

 Introduction to Casa Mexico: At Home in Mérida and the Yucatán

We fell in love with the Yucatán over twenty years ago when we toured the nearby iconic pre-Columbian pyramids Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Today, the whole region has grown into a fashionable and popular destination, constantly featured in a wide variety of travel and design articles in newspapers and magazines all over the world. We found it most expeditious to begin the photography for this book in Mérida, and then use the town as a base to travel around the rest of the Yucatán to explore the contemporary evolution of Mexican interior design and exterior decoration, which, thanks to skilled local craftsmen and artisans, are ever-changing, always joyful, and deeply inspirational.

Casa Mexico, by Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter, focuses on cutting edge homes and gardens in Mérida and around the Yucatán.
Casa Mexico, by Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter, focuses on cutting edge homes and gardens in Mérida and around the Yucatán.

We photographed two very different haciendas: the seventeenth-century Hacienda Petac, sensitively restored by Josefina Larraín Lagos and her partner, architect Salvador Reyes Ríos; and the brand new Plantel Matilde, an adventurous modern hacienda by architect Arcadio Marín, built for his brother, the sculptor Javier Marín. Near the village of San Antonio Sac Chich, it opens up like a modern-day acropolis and takes its name from the field it is built on.

Josefina Larraín Lagos' landscape design for Hacienda Petac.
Josefina Larraín Lagos’ landscape design for Hacienda Petac.

For some people, the small town of Valladolid, which is on the way to the beach resort of Tulum, is a peaceful alternative to the much larger city of Mérida. Here, Nicolas Malleville and Francesca Bonato originally just opened a small store and guest hotel, but they made their home there temporarily after a hurricane swept through their beachside property in Tulum. They loved Valladolid’s quiet and colorful beauty, and decided to stay and raise their two sons there.

The archaeological site of Cobá, with one of the tallest pyramids in the Yucatán (and close to Tulum), is a picturesque location for another Malleville and Bonato project. Coqui Coqui Coba looks out onto one of several crocodile-filled lakes; we were sorry to miss the reptiles’ evening parade in front of the hotel.

Casa Manolo Mestre. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
Casa Manolo Mestre. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

Driving through the endless, flat, low-forested Yucatán plains, it is easy to wonder how this uneventful landscape was host to one of the so-called cradles of civilization, where the Mayans built their first well-planned cities around 750 BCE. However, part of the magic of this region of Mexico is what lies hidden around the corner. A spectacular ruin, a colorful town, or a grand hacienda—all these play their part in the mystery that is the Yucatán Peninsula.

Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter

{ Read our 2015 interview with Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter }

Coqui Coqui in Coba. Photo: Tim Street-Porter
Coqui Coqui in Coba. Photo: Tim Street-Porter

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