Written for Señor Ernesto Delgado
As soon as you enter Mayahuel, you realize the architecture isn’t what we’ve all come to expect from Mexican restaurants. The colors are rich and yet evoke serenity. There are no arches or curves – in fact, the lines are level – balanced, proportional, continuous horizontal and vertical planes. Large areas of windows blur the lines between the interior and the world outside – the rooms are open and inviting. Patterns of light are thoughtfully created. Art is allowed to exist in harmony with the environment – never competing with the interior design; instead taking center stage in broad strokes of color and movement.
Ernesto Delgado, owner of Mayahuel, has studied design much of his life. From art to architecture, he embraces the ability of design to speak to the romance and history of a culture. It’s one of his great passions. Much of his inspiration for Mayahuel comes from the study of the great architect Luis Barragan (1902-1988).
Barragan believed that architects should design to develop a sense of beauty and emotion – that interiors should evoke a desire to experience art – not only in the sense of fine art but in the art of the structure itself. He hoped his legacy would be for people to become so accustomed to beauty in architecture they would begin to instinctively use it and pursue it as the purest form of spiritual nature.
To Barragan, every aspect of a structure should be thought of as both art and an enhancement to the environment. He studied the movement of the sun at different times of the year so he could take advantage of the changing patterns and qualities of light filtering through open areas onto walls, floors and courtyards. He played the color of walls against the azure of the Mexican desert sky and pools of water. Even those buildings he painted white (and these were few – he loved color) danced and transformed with the light and shadow of the passing day.
Luis Barragan was the recipient of the International Pritzker Prize in 1980. This award is given to the living architect whose work clearly demonstrates vision, talent and commitment which have contributed to humanity and the environment. The quotes below, extrapolated from his acceptance speech, give you a window into the soul of the man:
“It is alarming that publications devoted to architecture have banished from their pages the words Beauty, Inspiration, Magic, Spellbound, Enchantment as well as the concepts of Serenity, Silence, Intimacy and Amazement. All of these have nestled in my soul, and though I am fully aware that I have not done them complete justice in my work, they have never ceased to be my guiding light.
The invincible difficulty that the philosophers have in defining the meaning of this word is unequivocal proof of its ineffable mystery. Beauty speaks like an oracle, and ever since man has heeded its message in an infinite number of ways. . . . Human life deprived of beauty is not worthy of being called so.
Serenity is the great and true antidote against anguish and fear, and today, more than ever, it is the architect’s duty to make of it a permanent guest in the home, no matter how sumptuous or how humble. Throughout my work, I have always strived to achieve serenity, but one must be on guard not to destroy it by the use of an indiscriminate palette.”
It is worth studying the architecture and philosophy of Luis Barragan – it will allow you the insight into an appreciation of the design and ambience of Mayahuel – the serenity, beauty, play of light and color, and canvas for amazing art.