Our homes are our most intimate spaces. There we unwind, entertain, grow up, and connect with the ones we love the most. Although Palma Architectural and Interior Design is relatively young to the Sayulita market, this passionate team of four has already built an impressive list of media attention and was shortlisted in various architectural and design competitions. From small restaurants, to big residential projects, and everything in between, Palma Architectural and Interior Design creates beautiful designs that are in full harmony with the properties natural and cultural context. For this interview, we meet Juan Luis and talk about his design inspirations, architectural goals, his love for Sayulita, and more.
Juan Luis, how and why did you get into the design Industry? Where did you study?
During my final years at high school, I began to develop a deeper interest in science, art and the relationship between the two. I also discovered I had an aptitude for descriptive geometry and graphic representation in general. Architecture seemed like a great multidisciplinary career where art, science, geography, and humanities converged. I decided to study at UNAM, the national autonomous university whose main campus, apart from having one of the best architecture programs in Latin-America, has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its historical and cultural value.
You are currently based both in Mexico City as well as in Sayulita. What made you pick Sayulita as a second home base?
Originally, this decision was more personal than professional, although it turned out to be a good one in both aspects. Growing up, both my wife and I moved around a lot, and after being in Mexico City for some years, we began to look for a change. After visiting Sayulita, we realized there were opportunities for both of us, in a beautiful location with a unique and international atmosphere.
How would you describe your personal, or Palma's, design style? Is there a certain signature touch to your designs?
I wouldn´t use the word ‘style’ because we only really recognize these patterns when we look back at them historically and we firmly believe that design should belong to its current time and place, which is what makes it contemporary. Of course, that is not to say that contemporary architecture should ignore tradition. We cannot presume to know how to ‘do things better’, but rather learn from and reinterpret the historical development of design. We have developed certain criteria however which steer our design process. Material choice should be simple and honest. We like natural and contrasting textures which can age gracefully rather than require a new coat of paint every couple of years. We look for ways to solve certain details which can be repeated throughout the project and create an identity. When possible, we like to exploit the relationship between interior and exterior and blur the threshold within the project.
What and/or who are some of your design inspirations?
One of our biggest references is Peter Zumthor. His constant exploration of materials and process and the spatial atmospheres he creates are truly inspiring. We often refer to Scandinavian masters like Sverre Fehn as well, or the use of local craftsmanship to enhance contemporary spaces which characterizes the work of Studio Mumbai. As Mexicans, we cannot fail to mention the masterful use of light of the great Luis Barragán, arguably the best Mexican architect of the 20th century.
What makes Palma stand out among other architectural and interior designers?
I would say our attention to detail and our commitment to producing a unique and memorable atmosphere for each client. We do our best to take our clients' ideas and requirements and fulfill them in ways which they may not have imagined.
Are there any exciting projects that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
I´m quite excited about a concept we are currently developing to meet the demands for lodging here in Sayulita in a unique, quick and efficient manner. The idea is a low-cost, pre-fabricated micro-bungalow which can fit on most small, residual bits of land. We are developing four prototypes to choose from and aiming for a two month construction time frame depending on available utility connections. We are also currently working on a cabin retreat geared towards dog owners in Jilotepec, Estado de México which has been very interesting. In Mexico City, we recently concluded and ‘urban toy’. This was a winning proposal for a government competition calling for architects and designers to imagine ephemeral play installations for the city which would activate certain specific spaces.
Written by Inge Poell