In mexico two properties that share views tof the sea, the 1,000-acre private beachfront community of Costa Palmas on Baja’s East Cape and auberge Resorts Collection’s third Mexico property, Susurros del Corazón.
In mexico two properties that share views tof the sea, the 1,000-acre private beachfront community of Costa Palmas on Baja’s East Cape and auberge Resorts Collection’s third Mexico property, Susurros del Corazón.
The 1,000-acre private beachfront community of Costa Palmas on Baja’s East Cape soon will be home to a duo of new residential communities. Beginning this November, the Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort and Private Residences will bow with 45 contemporary Guerin Glass-Architects-designed villas, beachfront and marina homes, and beachfront and beach club casitas ranging from 2,523 to 10,000 square feet, with prices starting at $2.25 million.
Also coming in 2020: Aman’s first Mexico property, Amanvari, a 1,000-acre private beachfront community featuring 25 two- to eight-bedroom villas designed by architect John Heah that start at $5 million. Homeowners of both developments will have access to a Robert Trent Jones II 18-hole golf course, 250-slip marina, and members-only Costa Palmas Beach & Yacht Club. “Costa Palmas was created for families and groups of friends who appreciate a fresh and mindful approach to design and lifestyle,” says Michael Radovan, Costa Palmas’ managing director. “Owning at Costa Palmas means your spirited escape never needs to end.”
Los Cabos, Mexico
Auberge Resorts Collection’s third Mexico property, Susurros del Corazón, is now under way in Punta de Mita. Set to debut in late 2020, the luxury boutique resort will include 59 hotel guest suites and 30 modern residences resting on 33 acres overlooking the Bay of Banderas on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Expect boho chic-designed, ocean-view homes ranging from three-bedroom beach casitas to a six-bedroom Presidential Villa, with prices starting at $1.95 million.
Homeowners also have access to Auberge amenities, such as restaurants, a pool, fitness center, spa, kids’ club, in-room dining and housekeeping service. “Consumers are attracted to Mexico in particular because it feels like it’s worlds away, yet has such easy access,” says Mark Cooley of SV Capital, the project’s developer. “The combination of having a true luxury getaway where you can relax, immerse yourself in culture and be only a two- to three-hour direct flight from most major U.S. airports provides the best of both worlds.”
SUSURROS DEL CORAZON
Punta de Mita, Mexico
Photographs: Courtesy Of Costa Palmas (Top) And Susurros Del Corazón (Bottom)
Globetrotters with their sights set on Hawaii are now privy to the world’s first luxury travel subscription. The new Inspirato Pass allows members to book luxury trips via its private destination club and hospitality partners without nightly rates, taxes or fees. Passholders have access to 1,594 luxury resort properties and vacation homes in Kohala Coast, Kapalua, Wailea and Koala, Kauai for $2,500 per month, whether they travel weekly, monthly or a couple times of year. Among the offerings: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; The Lodge at Kukui’ula in Kauai; Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort; and Montage Kapalua Bay.
Each trip includes booking and itinerary assistance, plus on-site concierges. Visit the website to browse available trips (which refresh daily) and make a reservation. “The best part of Inspirato Pass in Hawaii is it’s the same no matter where you want to travel,” says Brent Handler, founder and CEO of Inspirato, the hospitality company that created the travel subscription. “There are some great trips on the list this fall valued at more than $10,000.”
Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts has joined with Walton Street Capital to bring the first Waldorf Astoria to Mexico. Formerly The Resort at Pedregal, the rebranded property is set to debut later this year in Los Cabos as Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, complete with 115 modern yet authentic Mexican-style guestrooms and suites resting amid 24 acres boasting a stunning backdrop of mountains, the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez.
Expect the same exclusive service and world-class amenities the brand is known for, including the Luna y Mar Spa (with indulgent organic treatments from herbal detoxes to rose-crystal lymphatic facials); several culinary options (like the signature restaurant, Don Manuel’s, specializing in a menu of traditional Mexican dishes made using local and regional ingredients); and a full lineup of curated experiences highlighting the Baja Peninsula’s land, wildlife and people. Says Dino Michael, global head of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts: “We look forward to combining the resort’s exclusive environment and guest-focused comforts with the brand’s unparalleled commitment to personal service to ensure our guests have the experience of a lifetime.”
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
Camino del Mar 1
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Photographs: Andaz Maui At Wailea Resort, Montage Kapalua Bay And Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
NANCY HOLT’S SUN TUNNELS IS A SIGNIFICANT WORK OF LAND ART THAT NODS TO THE VASTNESS OF THE UNIVERSE AND THE DIMENSIONS OF TIME.
Assume for a moment that the Great Basin Desert in northwestern Utah is not a peculiar place for a New Englander to find herself. The late land artist Nancy Holt, who was originally from Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey, took to this barren, even a touch forbidding, landscape with great and sustaining interest, using it to backdrop her rhapsodic work Sun Tunnels.
Comprised of four concrete tubes arranged in an open X formation, the work sits on a patch of flat, cracked clay desert floor and is more than what it appears to be—minimalist modern art in the middle of nowhere. But, rather, the work of a visionary whose creations straddled art and environmental activism.
Holt may have named her installation after the sun, but as an artist, she lingered too long in the shadow of her more acclaimed husband, Robert Smithson, a significant figure in the Land Art movement. In the years after Smithson’s sudden death, however, Holt emerged as a force in her own right, completing the career-defining Sun Tunnels in 1976.
In later years she also finished projects in the likes of New York and Finland, but the American West—specifically its openness and expanse—had something of an imaginative chokehold on Holt, appealing to her as a canvas for the eco-minded constructions she created meant to reframe our perception of and connection to nature.
Holt brought her broad appreciation for science (she studied biology at Tufts) to her most reliable gallery, the earth, and saw in the arid environs of Utah how Sun Tunnels would put one closer in consciousness to that which is infinite—time and the universe. Her vision: a life-size instrument for charting sun and stars. It’s a colossus of a viewfinder, to be sure. Each tunnel is punctured with holes of varying size, and these openings form a pattern that corresponds to a different constellation: Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn.
Sun Tunnels is also a coda of a kind to Holt’s experimentations with light, both artificial and natural, and the work is especially transfixing during summer and winter solstice, when the tubes align with the rising and setting sun, putting one into a trance in proportion to the view, which is a magnificence rarely seen.
What is not seen is imagined: Here one considers Holt at the site, calculating a way to express that which is beyond human understanding but crucial to humankind. How to translate this thought as a physical projection? In a personal essay for Artforum, she recalled standing in the desert, “watching the sun rising and setting, keeping time of the earth.” Disoriented by the emptiness, Holt approached the project as one might a compass, a means of direction. “Sun Tunnels,” she explained, “can exist only in that particular place—the work evolved out of its site.” In the end, it is a monument, in a monumental place, to the cornerstones of monumentality itself.
Photographs: Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels, 1973–76. Great Basin Desert, Utah. Dia Art Foundation With Support From Holt/Smithson Foundation. © Holt/Smithson Foundation And Dia Art Foundation/Licensed By Vaga At Artists Rights Society (Ars), Ny. Photo: Nancy Holt, Courtesy Holt/Smithson Foundation
When Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences, Honolulu opens near the Hawaii Convention Center in late 2022, expect 99 luxury residences with prices estimated to start at $3.5 million. Designed by Meyer Davis, Dianna Wong and Hart Howerton—and developed by L.A.-based Salem Partners—the 37-story mixed-use project will house 125 chic and contemporary hotel guestrooms and suites on the lower floors, with a separate entrance and elevator on the 19th floor leading to 17 floors of exclusive residential units.
“The Mandarin Oriental, Honolulu will breathe new life into the heart of the Ala Moana District as the first project approved under the Ala Moana Transit-Oriented Development Plan, aimed at improving connectivity and bringing a new vibrancy to the neighborhood,” says James Ratkovich, co-managing partner of Mana’olana Partners, which is handling residential sales. The development is slated to launch sales soon, and break ground this fall.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL AND RESIDENCES, HONOLULU
1695 Kapiolani Blvd.,
Originally opened at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties—and named in honor of Helen Atwater Wrigley, wife of Philip K. Wrigley (William Wrigley Jr.’s son)—Catalina Island’s Hotel Atwater has long served as a popular getaway for Hollywood elite and other mainlanders. Now, following an extensive renovation, the seaside lodge is reborn with a contemporary aesthetic that nods to the art-deco style of its origins. “Our goal with the renovation was to update the space with modern amenities and island-style decor, while still holding on to the hotel’s roots in Catalina and Wrigley family history,” says Randall Herrel, president and CEO of Catalina Island Co.
When Hotel Atwater debuts this August, expect historic photos from the Catalina Island Co. and Catalina Island Museum archives displayed throughout; a light and airy lobby with seating areas ideal for cocktails and conversation; and guest rooms bedecked with custom furniture, upgraded finishes and larger baths. Rates start at $199 per night. –
125 Summer Ave.,
PHOTOGRAPHS: RENDERINGS COURTESY OF THE RESIDENCES AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL, HONOLULU (TOP) AND CATALINA ISLAND COMPANY (BOTTOM)
The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort has unveiled the Turner House, a new three-bedroom guest cottage bedecked by noted California-based interior designer Nathan Turner. Found amid the 10,000-acre luxury dude ranch in Santa Ynez Valley, the new retreat features a chic take on Alisal’s Western feel and rustic charm with vintage artwork and antiques curated by Turner, refinished furniture pieces inspired by the cottage’s California-Monterey style, and additional accents including reclaimed barn wood paneling, a fireplace with a river rock façade, Ralph Lauren fabrics and Pendleton accessories.
Guests can book the entire cottage or each of the three rooms separately for $1,000 to $1,500 per night. Each space has a subtlety different color scheme, with a common great room tying them all together. Says Turner: “I designed the Turner House so that you feel as though you’re stepping into your own ranch house, yet one with all of the wonderful benefits that make the Alisal so special.”
Seeking a vacation home in Hawaii? Why not go all out and purchase a place at a five-star resort that caters to every whim—with a cache of luxe amenities, top-notch service and authentic cuisine—and where the environs are that of a lush natural paradise situated on Maui’s western shore. The choice is now yours with a limited collection of three-bedroom residences that have recently become available at Montage Residences Kapalua Bay (montageresidenceskapaluabay.com). The 15 residences are situated in the center of the 1,650-acre community in buildings three and four, include private lanais and expansive ocean views, and range from $2.7 to $3.8 million.
“Given the scalability of an intimate residential portfolio, the dedicated staff is extremely engaged with every aspect of ownership from concierge requests to property management, allowing for a high level of personalization,” says Tina Necrason, senior vice president, residential, for Montage International. “This ensures the most enjoyable and memorable time spent at home.”
PHOTOGRAPHS: VICTORIA PEARSON (TOP) AND MONTAGE RESIDENCES KAPALUA BAY (BOTTOM)
Residences situated within the heart of the San Francisco Bay blend the topography of the island with seamless indoor and outdoor living environs.
Coming soon: a chance to own a home in a distinct setting on a naturally formed island in the heart of San Francisco Bay, complete with panoramic views, wellness-minded amenities, and 72 acres of preserved space rife with parks, beaches, and hiking and biking trails—all just 10 minutes from downtown. When completed in 2021, Yerba Buena Island will feature 266 luxury condos, flats and townhomes (with The Agency Development Group starting sales in early 2020).
Residents of the project—developed by Wilson Meany and Stockbridge Capital Group—also will be privy to The Island Club, which includes a lounge, dining room, bar, game room, spa, sauna, massage room, fitness studio and outdoor lap pool. Says Chris Meany, Wilson Meany’s co-founder and managing partner: “We’ve enlisted a world-class team to create a place that celebrates the hallmarks of what drew people to San Francisco in the first place—a modern spirit, creative culture, laid-back atmosphere and surrounding natural beauty.”
YERBA BUENA ISLAND
Renew, Waikiki’s original boutique hotel, was reimagined in summer 2019 to offer travelers a new type of wellness experience centered around holistic Hawaiian healing.
Waikiki’s former Hotel Renew has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar redesign and rebranding led by Honolulu’s The Vanguard Theory and will debut as OLS Hotels and Resort’s new 72-room Renew retreat in July 2019, complete with a focus centered around holistic offerings. Expect the property to feature amenities and activities designed to connect guests to local wellness, fitness and beauty partners, including social and environmental experiences from bicycle tours to reviving a historic fish pond, astrology readings, beach yoga, aromatherapy crystals to enhance sleep and much more.
Also new: revamped guest rooms, corridors, lobby and lobby bar set amid an inviting yet chic mid-century minimalist meets tropical modern design boasting a palette of sandy neutrals, terra-cotta and pops of black. “Renew has been reimagined as an intimate retreat for those seeking a deeper connection to Hawai’i beyond its traditional tourist spots,” says General Manager Thomas Harris. “We look forward to providing our guests with meaningful and memorable stays.”
129 Paoakalani Ave. Honolulu, HI
PHOTOGRAPHS: HAYES DAVIDSON (TOP) AND RENEW (BOTTOM)
High production costs, opening delays—there’s been some drama for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, but nothing to derail a project with serious star power in design architect Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and a great deal of dedicated ambition to pull it all together. So when the Museum opens later this year, on Wilshire and Fairfax in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, and just in time for a new awards season, expect a blockbuster.
Renovating and expanding the Saban Building—originally a 1939 May Company—to accommodate the massive Museum (think 300, 000 square feet including exhibition spaces, cutting-edge theaters, a rooftop terrace and more) was a major order of business. Mating the historic architecture to the brand new Sphere Building was another, given that the globe-shaped showpiece with views of the Hollywood Hills serves both a functional purpose, uniting the main facets of the Museum, and a symbolic one.
“On the one hand, we are deeply rooted in Los Angeles and its great history of filmmaking, as suggested by the landmark Streamline Moderne architecture of the Saban Building,” explains Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Kerry Brougher. On the other, he adds: “We are global in our outlook on film culture and deeply interested in the possible futures of filmmaking, as suggested by the futuristic form of the Sphere Building.”
A plot twist: the structure also reckons with history. In the early 20th century, dirigibles landed at the airfields that used to operate along what is now Miracle Mile, and while the Sphere Building “is not a direct reference to the dirigibles,” says Brougher, “Renzo Piano has spoken about it as one of his inspirations when thinking about the David Geffen Theater as a transportation and time machine.”
Due to this richness of narrative, the way that one accesses the buildings is paramount—Saban to Sphere is best. “You have to take the journey through film history to enter the Sphere Building, which hovers a little above the ground like a transportation device, ready to take you into the imaginative voyage of cinema,” explains Brougher. “By connecting the two structures with glass bridges, the architectural design suggests how the future of film is linked inextricably to the great cinematic achievements of the past.”
Further behind the scenes of the architecture is the partial influence that scale and proportion of the original May Company had on shaping the new building. Along with literal points of connection like the bridges, the “physical offset between the two buildings…and the structuring of the visitor circulation upwards, around, and back and forth, allows for a dramatic procession experiencing light and shadow, history and future, of architecture and film,” says Daniel Hammerman, architect, Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Curved forms, linear modular elements, and aerodynamic design relate to the new building design as well. “And both buildings are massive yet give an impression of lightness—the Saban Building’s stone façade is softened by curving stone corners and flying canopies; the new Sphere Building is lightened by an outer skin of glazing and slender stairs…” adds Hammerman. In the age of the Hollywood spectacle, it’s nice to still that character development still counts in this town. academymuseum.org
PHOTOGRAPH: ACADEMY MUSEUM OF MOTION PICTURES, DOLBY FAMILY TERRACE ©RENZO PIANO BUILDING WORKSHOP/©ACADEMY MUSEUM FOUNDATION.
When ProsPac Holdings Group’s 41-story Azure Ala Moana residential tower debuts at the corner of Keeaumoku and Makaloa streets in downtown Honolulu the summer of 2021, expect 330 condos and 78 rental apartments boasting HBA-designed interiors featuring stunning ocean, mountain and city views; floor-to-ceiling windows; extra-large sliding glass lanai doors; elegant 7-foot, solid core wood entry doors; and plush, high-end carpet in living rooms and bedrooms.
Then there’s the amenities: 20,000-plus square feet of retail and dining offerings on the building’s ground- and second-level plaza, plus a resort-style pool and cabanas, fitness center, club room, puppy park, guest suites for family and friends, and more. “Azure Ala Moana embodies the heart of downtown Honolulu in both physical location and strong cultural roots,” says Rick Stack, ProsPac’s executive vice president. “The residents of our urban oasis will pioneer the rediscovery of a diverse, active, and authentic neighborhood.” Sales already have begun, with prices starting at the mid 600,000’s for a one-bedroom.
AZURE ALA MOANA
641 Keeaumoku St. Honolulu, HI
By the time the holiday season rolls around, guests seeking a grand hotel experience rife with adventure and top-notch service will find it at Mexico’s new Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas. Think an idyllic respite set on 1,000 acres overlooking the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains and Sea of Cortez, complete with contemporary Guerin Glass Architects-designed accommodations in the form of 141 guestrooms and 23 suites offering sea views and private terraces.
Visitors will be privy to five dining options, a spa and wellness center, the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II golf course, a private marina, and endless adventures from snorkeling to horseback riding. “We are fully prepared that this part of Cabo is about to become the worst best-kept secret in the world,” says General Manager Borja Manchado. “Once our guests get a taste of the lifestyle here, I’m quite sure they will begin planning their next visit even before the first one is over.”
FOUR SEASONS RESORT LOS CABOS AT COSTA PALMAS
PHOTOGRAPHS: AZURE ALA MOANA (TOP) AND FOUR SEASONS RESORT LOS CABOS AT COSTA PALMAS (BOTTOM)
Feast your eyes on one of the priciest properties for sale in the Caribbean at $25 million. Nestled on 132 oceanfront acres at Half Moon Bay Antigua—an ultra-luxury resort and residential development featuring 3,200 feet of white coral sand, along with access to on-site amenities including a biodynamic farm, cocktail lounge and spa—the Mellon Estate previously was owned by philanthropist Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon and now is on the market for the first time in 50-plus years.
As part of the purchase price, the buyer will enjoy the opportunity to use the Dutch design firm Studio Piet Boon to create a bespoke residence on the 3-acre parcel of land. “The Mellon estate will truly be one of the greatest homes in the world, starting atop a cliff and cascading down to vast ocean views,” says Half Moon Bay Antigua CEO William Anderson. “It’s unlike anything in the Caribbean.
HALF MOON BAY ANTIGUA
Be on the lookout for the first Tiger Woods-designed golf course on Oahu’s Leeward Coast, coming soon to the 644-acre, mixed-used Mākaha Valley Resort development. One of two layouts at the property commissioned by Toronto-based golfing network Pacific Links International, Woods’ TGR Design will execute the Mākaha North Course, while Gil Hanse (creator of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Course) will craft the Mākaha South Course. Expect the North Course to include links set high atop the Pacific amid lush, rolling terrain beneath the Waianae Mountain Range, where players will encounter vast fairways dotted with bunkers.
According to a statement by Woods: “The cathedral-like setting of the property is framed with big ocean views to the west and towering mountains to the east. We are designing a golf course that will take advantage of this spectacular setting, yet still be fun and playable for golfers of all abilities.”
MAKAHA VALLEY RESORT
84-626 Makaha Valley Rd., Waianae, Oahu, HI
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF HALF MOON BAY ANTIGUA (TOP) AND PACIFIC LINKS INTERNATIONAL (BOTTOM)
When it came to finding the ideal spot for the first Godfrey Hotel on the West Coast, Oxford Hotels & Resorts settled on a parcel of land a block south of Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood surrounded by technology and entertainment companies, high-rise apartments, retail, restaurants and nightlife.
Think all of the energy and excitement of Sunset Boulevard combined with the history and glamour of the Hollywood Palladium and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, with guests of the modern, Steinberg Hart-designed property placed squarely in the middle of one of the most storied and symbolic neighborhoods in the city.
“The Godfrey Hotel Hollywood opens amid a new era for the area, with the return or debut of several major entertainment, tech and creative houses to the neighborhood (Netflix, CNN and Viacom, to name a few), while long-standing favorites of pop culture, like Amoeba Records, share its block,” says Oxford Capital Principal Sarang Peruri. “Over 25 major development projects are slated this year, including a 100-percent increase in residential units and the $450 million, mixed-use destination Academy on Vine.”
Situated at 1400 Cahuenga Blvd., and set to open in August, the seven-story, 75,000-square-foot hotel is Oxford Capital’s fourth Godfrey Hotel and will feature glam, retro-chic environs crafted by The Gettys Group. Expect artistic and creative touches—such as oversized metal sculptures and dichroic glass that changes color as the light hits it—and 220 guest rooms sporting black-and-white finishes, tufted headboards, custom brass light fixtures, and opulent baths boasting rain showers and artistic wallcoverings, all in a palette of smoky green and blush pink.
Look for a SoCal-centric dining experience led by Executive Chef Dorian Southall at About Last Knife, with menu items including regionally sourced, Southland-inspired dishes such as Tomahawk Shortrib Mole and Whole Roasted Pacific Snapper, and a curated bar program offering seasonal cocktails, local craft beers and global whiskeys.
Rounding out the offerings is a ground-level al fresco courtyard and wine bar, and the i|O Godfrey rooftop and pool lounge—the largest rooftop space in Hollywood at 11,600 square feet, replete with film screenings and rotating art via a 28-foot projection mapping wall, and unparalleled views of the Hollywood Hills and Downtown L.A.
“The Godfrey Hotel’s high-energy restaurant, nightlife and events venues, carefully curated guestrooms and artwork throughout will be a complementary addition to the neighborhood,” says the hotel’s general manager, Clay Andrews. “It will provide a new cultural hotspot for locals and travelers alike.”
Montage Laguna Beach unveiled a head-to-toe makeover in March, complete with improvements to the property’s lobby, lounge and accommodations. Expect a view of the Pacific from a framed window in the lobby, as well as new Brazilian cherry wood flooring and California-coastal furniture in the lobby and popular lobby lounge.
The 253 updated guestrooms (including suites and bungalows) now boast a muted color palette accented by vibrant pops of steel blue, violet, yellow and chartreuse, along with sustainably sourced furnishings and amenities such as candles by Laguna Candles (with a Montage-specific scent), Matouk throw blankets, and champagne buckets and dog bowls hand-sculpted by the artists of Tina Frey.
“In keeping with the comfortable and classical-chic feel, the resort has always had, we have enhanced the guest experience with refreshed common areas and modernized guestrooms,” says Montage Laguna Beach General Manager Anne-Marie Houston. “And we have raised our own bar to our ongoing commitment to sustainability throughout the resort at all levels.”
MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH
30801 S. Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA
Waikiki’s newest luxury boutique hotel is now accepting online reservations in advance of its Oct. 25 debut. Halekulani Corp.’s Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani—situated adjacent to its sister property, Halekulani—will include 284 guestrooms and four suites with ocean views.
New York City-based interior design firm Champalimaud was tapped to design the land- and water-themed accommodations and public spaces, with local artwork from the Honolulu Museum of Art complementing the decor.
The property also will feature the casual Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant, complete with a variety of pastries, cakes and artisan breads by a baker from the renowned Imperial Hotel Tokyo. Rates range from $350 to $1,100, based on double occupancy.
PHOTOGRAPHS: MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH (TOP) AND HALEPUNA WAIKIKI BY HALEKULANI (BOTTOM)
When the exiled Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky came to Coyoacan, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, he did so at the invitation of artist Frida Kahlo (and the man she married twice, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera).
Trotsky and his wife were welcomed at Frida’s family home Casa Azul, the Blue House, a blue as bold as the woman who was born there, died there, and spent time recovering from a horrendous, life-threatening trolley accident that left her bed-ridden, in a body cast, and alone to explore self-portraiture.
Casa Azul is a portrait of Frida, as well. Constructed in 1904, with a colonial typology, the composition lacks a significant physical configuration (its floor plan, which placed adjoining rooms around a courtyard, was typical of the period), but its engagement with community and culture makes it a building of great consequence, greater than the sum of its parts, and sensitive to poetics.
The home’s original architect is unknown, but Frida’s mannerly father Guillermo, a photographer with an interest in architecture, likely espoused his opinions about its design. While not architecturally experimental, Casa Azul was more than comfortable, a single-story structure with four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and servants’ quarters. Plants filled the patio.
Tall windows, French doors and elements of French decorative style on the exterior were fashionable touches. Many books and a German piano certainly helped nurture a sense of the artistic in a growing Frida.
This rich history reverberates through the halls of the current Casa Azul, a world of Frida’s creation, its vivacious palette characteristic of her work and life alike—her artistic depictions, like her dress, are vivid, expressing cultural and feminine identity and strong politics. Ornamented similarly, the house features photos of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, pre-Hispanic artifacts, mirrors and butterflies, and a show of Frida’s constrictive, spine-correcting corsets.
Modifications and expansions have been made to the house, including a wing that Diego constructed, but arguably the most of momentous transformation—its cobalt-blue painted façade—turned the building into art itself. The robust color sets off an oasis of greenery, and the red of its pre-Hispanic pyramid, which serves to integrate Mexico’s indigenous history.
The strong assertion of blue on the exterior gives way to an interior of bright-green trim and yellow accents that highlight a trove of Mexican treasures—crafts, pre-Hispanic artifacts, personal belongings and fascinating works of art by both Frida and Diego.
Rechristened the Frida Kahlo Museum in 1958, four years after her death, at which time Diego bequeathed the building to Mexico, the destination receives art and culture lovers across the world. Magically, visitors find the folkloric charm of Casa Azul in Frida and Diego’s day is much the same. One element, in particular, leaves a lasting impression: Frida’s 1954 work whose name is what Casa Azul still represents—Long Live Life. museofridakahlo.org
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF FRIDA KAHLO & DIEGO RIVERA ARCHIVES. BANK OF MEXICO, FIDUCIARY IN THE DIEGO RIVERA AND FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM TRUST