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Surprise video captures the world of Josefina Larraín Lagos

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our best stories will appear in your inbox every Monday.
Josefina Larraín Lagos in a video for Cadillac.
Josefina Larraín Lagos in a video for Cadillac.

Here’s a video we never expected to see. Especially since we always thought of her as an Audi type of woman.

Josefina Larraín Lagos is lovingly photographed driving around Yucatán’s back roads in a Cadillac XT5, and walking through one of the most famous hacienda projects ever to come from Reyes Ríos + Larraín Arquitectos.

It’s a stunning video that not only showcases the peninsular’s strange allure, but also gives voice to Josefina’s point of view on culture and design.

Cadillac X Black Tomato I The Mexico Experience from Black Tomato on Vimeo.

The video for “What Drives You Forward” is narrated by Josefina, who is labeled “The Hacienda Restorer.” The Cadillac stops at Hacienda Sac Chich, an early project for Reyes Ríos + Larraín that drew the attention of publishers everywhere, putting both them and the peninsula in high-end magazines and books.

The Chilean-German artist and designer, who now lives in Itzimná, is married to architect Salvador Reyes Ríos, and together they have restored and built properties in both Mérida and in remote areas since the 1990s.

The narration doesn’t mention the Cadillac, but it does give Josefina a sounding board to present her world view.

Josefina Larraín Lagos in a video for Cadillac.
Josefina Larraín Lagos in a video for Cadillac.

“I’ve always been a spectator of many many cultures that I’ve lived through. I think that makes you more critical. I was unhappy and I was looking for a place to be happy. A spontaneous place. The Americas, I would say, they have less rules. They have less complications. It’s more chaotic. People live more creatively. I felt it was the place I was looking for.”

“Mexico is a very raw, natural place,” she continues. “It has lots of flavors, colors, textiles, wilderness, animals, things that you don’t see in many places in the world anymore.”

On design: “When I design I have principles more than a philosophy. It should contribute to a better quality of life.”

On their beginnings when haciendas were crumbling, forgotten relics of the peninsula’s golden age: “It was a great discovery to find these old walls, it was like a fairy tale,” she recalls. “I felt that I could bring that story back to life and make it my own, kind of like a sculpture, a space.”

On what it means to honor the past: “Preservation helps tell a story from way back. It’s the feeling that old stones have. The craftsmanship you can feel beneath the walls.”

Josefina is also an advocate for children with disabilities, and her son Ivan, who has Down Syndrome, is prominently featured in the video — frolicking happily at the beach.

“I have a very creative family. My son Ivan draws. He can express much better in a drawing that in words. His drawings indicate his state of mind my more than I would have ever thought,” she says. “I’m very optimistic about the future. I think humans are integrating more and more. I believe that I can contribute to that. I teach what disabilities are about and how to include disabled people. To make sure that people with disabilities can participate in society. They have the same rights that everybody else has. “

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