Mexican Pink, as it’s often called, isn’t a mere trend. It’s a tradition that goes back farther than many realize.
Artist Ramón Valdiosera inspired the term rosa mexicano, or Mexican Pink, which can be seen across Mexico on just about anything that can be applied with color. Today’s Mexican creatives are embracing their cultural roots, continuing the interplay with color, light, and shadow.
“In architecture, pink still gives good contrast—it brings a lot of profoundness to the atmosphere. That makes it timeless,” said designer José Bermúdez of Studio Bermúdez in an interview with Architectural Digest.
“Color in Latin America goes way back—the Mayans, Aztecs, and many of our ancestors painted their pyramids and ornaments in a colorful way,” Bermúdez says.
Without reliable access to steel or structural timber, most buildings in history were made with stucco, then painted over. Stucco was easily accessible and a breathable material, which was great for cities that needed to beat the heat.
“Chukum, a limestone-based stucco, was used by the Mayans, and you see it being used now again in Yucatán, Mexico. Limestone can kill certain bacteria, so there are multiple reasons to continue building with it,” Bermúdez says.
Paint over stucco also makes white buildings less glaring under the sun. Instead of a city of all-white buildings, rows of colorful houses seem to sprout like flowers in a garden.
In many parts of Latin America where there’s no such thing as a street address, so bold colors mark a family’s location. Pink is the most prevalent.
In Mexico, bright colors in architecture are associated with mid-century architect Luis Barragán, who with artist Jesús “Chucho” Reyes, used pink in their houses.
Since then, local governments and tourist boards promoted vivid pink, yellow and orange walls to maintain a distinct appearance.
And even though some regions actively promote the use of bold colors, the local architects still need to know their color wheel.
“The more architects and designers know about color, the more care goes into making the right decisions,” Mexican architect Sergio Alonzo says. “In order to create architecture that will evoke specific emotions in people, the architect must be intentional and use color wisely.”