mexican excellence

CDMX Hot Spots: Interior Design

I’m not gonna lie to you: the shopping here is insane and each year it gets better and better. We could (and prolly should) have an entire travel agency that’s all about shopping in Mexico, but for now these are three pretty cool design stores you should visit next time you’re in La Capital.

Marisol Centeno

Photo: Bi-Yuu

Photo: Bi-Yuu

Textiles are one of the things we do best here in Mexico. To celebrate the legacy of female weavers, Marisol Centeno showroom has created the Bi Yuu brand, dedicated exclusively to designing rugs and other textile decoration designs, via the most delicate hands of indigenous communities. Her extraordinary work is certified by GoodWeave, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating social programs in Afghanistan, India and Nepal.

Photo: Bi-Yuu

Photo: Bi-Yuu

Its founder, Marisol Centeno has presented collections at Dubai Design Week, Rufino Tamayo Museum, Franz Mayer Museum, Museum of the Americas in Denver, National Center for the Arts, Mexico Space in Montreal, Design Week Mexico, among many others. She has collaborated with both national and international brands and architecture firms. In 2013 she was recognized as The Best Handmade Designer by CasaViva magazine and received the Possible Winner Award, an organization that recognizes entrepreneurs who solve social problems through a business model. Visits to the showroom are RSVP only.

IG: @biyuumx


Photo: Nouvel Studio

Photo: Nouvel Studio

Nouvel Studio is an artistic workshop dedicated to experimentation and development of glass. After several years of perfecting techniques, its artisans have become an elite network that is able to respond to any need and project, taking them to unimaginable dimensions!

Photo: Nouvel Studio

Photo: Nouvel Studio

The artist's catalog includes the names of Emiliano Godoy, member of the Advisory Board of Unesco; Ezequiel Farca, Quorum Award to the best designer in Mexico (2003) and creator of more than 50 interior design projects alongside renowned Mexican architects Enrique Norten and Teodoro González de León; and, Ricardo Legorreta, the famous architect who designed the Papalote Museo del Niño (Mexico City’s award-winning children’s museum) and Grupo Habita’s La Purificadora boutique hotel & Polanco’s Camino Real. He is the only Mexican who has received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale awarded by the Art Association of Japan (2011).

IG: @nouvelstudio


Photo: Onora Studio

Photo: Onora Studio

This artisan design studio has been creating textiles and home accessories for over 15 years. Onora’s collections reinterpret traditional designs giving them an aesthetic and contemporary use that reflect a refined, casual and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Photo: Onora Studio

Photo: Onora Studio

They have the backing of architects and interior design specialists to develop customized concepts, which give a most unique personality to the simplest of spaces. Its service ranges from the production of exclusive pieces by request to curating an environment that integrates the essence of the brand: collaboration, tradition and relaxed luxury.

IG: @onoracasa

The Mexican Matryoshka Doll

This month has a lot of meaning for Mexico and for Morenita. September 16 marks our Independence from colonial rule. Our colorful streets get even more colorful -if you can imagine- with vendors selling flags, firecrackers and sombreros on every street corner. Wreaths cover street lights marking 1810-2018, the years of Independence from the Spanish invasion. More than one visiting friend has commented, “wow, you guys celebrate Christmas early!” confusing our patriotic colors with that of Christmas - a fair mistake. There are few other holidays in México that unite the country like El Grito. You’ve probably caught on by now, our independence is not Cinco de Mayo. And contrary to what you saw in the last James Bond movie, even Día de Muertos, which is popular depending on what Pueblo Mágico you’re in, doesn’t fill the plazas of every town in México like the September 16th celebrations.

photo source unknown

photo source unknown

September is also the birth of Morenita Experience. At this time last year I was plotting and strategizing the launch of an experience agency I knew the travel market wanted and Mexico needed. I wanted every idea, every experience, every detail to be created with intention. That intention lives and breathes life into what we do today. At Morenita Experience, we have our finger on the pulse of Mexican culture and are committed to sharing it through tailored luxury travel experiences. Anyone residing in CDMX knows you can live here for for years and still feel like you just got here. The city is so massive, there is so much to do, enjoy, explore, eat, drink and learn, where does one even begin? Morenita Experience is the insiders encounter that every traveler wants to take home. Maybe it's a service you never knew you needed, but once having “experienced”, you can’t live without.

Morenita Experience is like a Russian matryoshka doll. Once we meet and hopefully, break bread over a delicious meal, enjoy a sobremesa of tequila, mezcal or more wine, we form a bond. Conversation takes over and we introduce you to other intelligent creatives who are pushing the country and culture forward, whether it be in food, art, entertainment, etc. That person opens you up to someone else and so on and so on. It truly is the beauty of our people, the cultural connection that holds us all together through revolutions, political corruption, economic disparity: connection to culture holds us together.

It’s that intention of openness to the unknown that is taking Morenita to destinations like the wine country of Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada, the Day of The Dead celebrations in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, or revealing the depths of the art world here in México City. This Matryoshka style of exploring is what we’re doing today; scouting locations and forging bonds with like-minded people who share our vision to move the country forward and offer one of a kind experiences to travelers.

The partners we work with share the mindset of respect and celebration of México. We are an innovative community, constantly looking onward and upward. The true north of Morenita is to share our world by inviting you into the inner circle, that unexpected last layer in the Matryoshka doll.

The Story of México Told in One Woman

Morenita means brown girl, brown woman. When I started Morenita Experience almost a year ago, like any creative start-up, I went through the exercise of developing a brand identity, starting with a name. Something that instantly communicated the idea I would offer to the world amid my personal and professional experiences. At the heart of what I wish to express is a deep love and respect for my culture coupled with exposure to the many faces of México.

Morenita embodies these many faces in the most positive sense. I continually get the same reaction when I tell people the name of my business.

“Hello, my name is Cristina Lugo.”
“Nice to meet you. What do you do?”
“I own a travel experience agency called Morenita.”
Head tilt.
The the overwhelming feeling that 'yes, that makes sense, that feels right.'

Morenita is la Virgen de Guadalupe, morenita is the matriarch, the nucleus of Mexican family and society, morenitas are las señoras en la calle vendiendo quesadillas. Morenita is me recognizing our Aztec and Mayan greatness. Morenita is a term of endearment between father and daughter. Morenita is a positive reflection of racial diversity. Morenita is the story of Mexico told in one woman.

I'll explain.

In so many parts of the world, calling people out by the color of their skin is negative, a judgement, a divisive behavior and product of colonial systems: it makes us turn against each other. But when you walk the markets of México, it’s a kind gesture to hear vendors call out “qué le damos güerita!” ("What will it be, blondie? or, white girl") It’s a way of saying ‘I see you’. Similarly, when called morenita, I am understood, I am celebrated, revered for the history and traditions painted on my skin like tattoos of a collective memory too precious to forget. I don't understand when people say “I don’t see color”, trying to remove themselves from the accountability that all humans face when confronted by their participation in racism. If you don’t see color, you don’t see me! Because I am so colorful! If you don’t see me, then how can we relate to each other, how can we have a real conversation?

México is predominantly a Catholic faith country. The Virgin Mary (we know her as La Virgen de Guadalupe) is our most important religious icon. We lovingly refer to her as morena, mi Virgen morena, mi morenita. We pray to a brown-skinned indigenous woman, we rely on her guidance and protection. 

It’s also no coincidence that MORENA is the the political party that just won power in Mexico’s most recent presidential election under AMLO, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a brown skinned man. Believe it or not, in Mexico we've usually had white Mexicans running the show. Morena references a rhetoric of “power to the people!”. The visual of a brown fist in the air, that for many marginalized people around the world including the United States, is held as a symbol of pride and positivity.

I grew up in a tourist beach town. I was born in Sinaloa and raised in Puerto Vallarta. I am super gringa by all accounts (y'all already know), born in México yet surrounded by expats, raised by my gringo dad, playing soccer at my gringo high school, then off to gringo college in Wisconsin of all places, all the while listening to American hip-hop and other imported gringo pop culture. I began to experience Mexican music, traditional culture and even food, as an adult.

My professional life was spent in high end hotels and restaurants, surrounded by great minds like Enrique Olvera, people who took the rich ingredients of Mexican heritage and coupled them with the highest and most refined global standards. Whether they understood it or not, they were building a new México. Whether the world understands it or not, Morenita is redefining travel, redefining how you experience Mexico. How Mexicans recognize and understand themselves. Morenita is very actively participating in being the solution. I've lived in like, 5 countries? (I think.) I speak 3 languages. I'm a global citizen, but I am first Mexican. My connections on the ground and experiences throughout my years working in the highest levels of gastronomy and hospitality have taught me that, sure, it’s very much who you know, but it must be anchored in authenticity if I’m to carry out my vision. This cultural narrative needs to be REAL if Morenita is actually about what it says its about.

If you read the July newsletter you know how devastating Anthony Bourdain’s death was for me. He understood us as a country, he understood the potential and dimensional complexities of our culture. One of Bourdain's critiques on the world's prejudice toward the Mexican experience was that it should be cheap, "this is frankly a racist assumption that Mexico ..should be cheap. That's not right." We've been seeing Mexico elevate its game in the food realm for years now. But take Bourdain’s statement and apply it to art, architecture, craftsmanship, the booming wine industry, and you’re seeing México through my contemporary and cosmopolitan lens. México is the most fascinating destination in the Western Hemisphere, this is the cradle of centuries of the most enchanting traditions and history. Discúlpenme, pero, why should anything here be cheap?

This is the lens I use when designing products like the Xochimilco Sunrise Experience. You want to ride around the canals on those colorful little boats, get a little tipsy and listen to mariachi? Cool. That's fun for me too. But I'd rather use every contact I can think of to get the exclusivity to Yolcán, a large farm crop inside those canals, where no tourists ever access, and serve a gorgeous breakfast at sunrise with indigenous brown women making you fresh blue corn tortillas on the spot, while their 3rd generation Xochimilcan farmer husbands explain the agricultural methods they've used since the beginning of time. Linen table cloths, talavera dishes, exotic birds flying over you, and the feeling that Xochimilco, this UNESCO nature reserve, if only for this morning, belongs entirely to you. The same vegetables and herbs you see growing there are only sold to the best restaurants in México City in an effort to support fair trade and maintain Yolcan's vision of sustainability and cultural preservation. When your private driver takes you to dinner that evening - in our luxury town cars, of course - you'll see world-famous restaurants like Pujol and Maximo Bistrot will have prepared your meal with those same ingredients that earlier in the day the farmers at Yolcan described so passionately. That is a Morenita Experience. In many ways, traveling around the world discovering international food cultures, then returning home to collaborate with visionary chefs who wanted to expose the potential of our history, is my true north and vision for the Morenita Experience today. I can say with great pride and responsibility, that via my experiences personal and professional, I am the story of México told in one woman.