Plus: an exhibition of Navajo textiles, Luam Melake’s experimental seating and more recommendations from T Magazine.
A Mexican Beach Retreat Where the Outdoors Is Invited In
Ten years ago, the Canadian entrepreneur Tara Medina met the Mexican architect Andrés Saavedra in the surf on Mexico’s Playa Linda. Now, the two are launching Hotelito, 35 minutes outside of Zihuatanejo along the Pacific Coast in the state of Guerrero. The 13-room hotel, along with its beach club, freshwater bio pool and subterranean bar, sits inside MUSA (an acronym for Modern Utopian Society of Adventurers), the couple’s 177-acre planned community featuring residences and restaurants as well as an animal sanctuary and bike park.
For Hotelito’s design, Saavedra focused on sourcing building materials within a short radius. Tropical hardwoods like parota dominate the minimalist structure, as does slate-hued cantera stone from Michoacán and terrazzo handmade from rock found on-site. Guest rooms adhere to a neutral color scheme, while floor-to-ceiling windows are framed by lush greenery. The beach club features custom furniture produced in Zihuatanejo. Working up a thirst is easily done from April to October when swells from the south and southwest break in front of Hotelito, with three-foot-plus waves unfurling along the sandy beach. Surf conditions calm from November to March, though the occasional curl from the north might create epic peaks in these mesmerizing waters. Hotelito opens in March 2023; rooms from $475, findmusa.mx.
Luam Melake’s Soft, Social Furniture, on View in New York
“People don’t think that much about the social effect of their furniture,” says the artist Luam Melake. Her colorful pieces blur the boundary between sculpture and seating, reimagining how a chair might serve the person who occupies it. Her Listening Chair supports two people — one seated upright, the other lying down across their companion’s lap — and facilitates an instant confessional intimacy. Nine of Melake’s functional designs comprise “Furnishing Feelings,” the artist’s solo exhibition at TriBeCa’s R & Company. Made primarily from polyurethane foam and a waterproof coating that looks like lacquer from afar but moves fluidly with the body, Melake’s creations are the culmination of her lifelong interest in materials research, psychology, anthropology and postwar design. “I read about physicality and how distance influences behavior, and positions that are known to be beneficial to people’s mental health,” she says of her approach to creating furniture like her Regressive Chair, which encourages its sitter to adopt the fetal position. Learning about the plight of mothers during the pandemic led Melake to craft the Supportive Chair, which allows for a seated version of Bitilasana, known as “cow pose” in yoga. “It activates your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body down,” she says. While Melake says her seating recommendations are rooted in extensive research, she encourages sitters to find the position that suits them best: “My work is about leaving space for someone to make their own discoveries.” “Furnishing Feelings” will be on view from Feb. 3 through April 2023, r-and-company.com.
Heart-Shaped Jewelry for All Occasions
Gille Peeters, the Antwerp-based designer and founder of the jewelry brand Fragille, is shamelessly sentimental. “I made my first ever smiley ring three years ago,” she says. “Now I have 10 variations of it — they evolve through time, just like I do.” Smiley rings aren’t Peeters’s only object of affection: The Belgian designer is just as smitten with the heart, and she approaches the ubiquitous symbol from many angles: Her online offerings include a selection of mourning pieces along with items designed with weddings in mind. “The Warrior ring is composed of three tear shapes,” she notes. “It doesn’t necessarily look like a heart, but the inspiration comes from the sentiments our hearts can bring us, from tears of joy to tears of pain.” Fragille’s newest collection, Golden Ratio, focuses on the spiral shape — an ancient representation of the rhythm of life, of movement and evolution. The Abundance bracelet’s golden coils are interspersed with golden flowers and a double teardrop charm at the clasp, while the Pink Matter and Heart of the Sea necklaces juxtapose heart and teardrop shapes with freshwater pearls. From about $120, fra-gille.be.
Resurfacing Indigenous History Through Navajo Textiles
When the curator Hadley Jensen discovered a collection of Navajo weavings at New York’s American Museum of Natural History that had not been seen since 1910, she called on the fifth-generation Navajo, or Diné (as many Navajo people refer to themselves), weavers Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas. Jensen wanted to create an exhibition around these textiles, and she looked to the sisters for programming guidance, artwork interpretation and educational input throughout the process. These textiles, Pete says, reflect “a time suppressed by scholastic interventions,” when Indigenous people were enslaved in the United States, their land overtaken and weaving styles replaced over time by colonialist patterns. Pete experienced cultural erasure firsthand when, in 1964, she was taken from her family home at age six to attend a boarding school in New Mexico as part of a federal program in which Indigenous students were forced to renounce their culture and often were subjected to violence. Pete and Ornelas remain committed as educators to “connecting lost linkages” for Navajo youth while raising awareness around Indigenous history — and that’s exactly what they’re doing in partnership with Jensen for “Shaped by the Loom,” an exhibit that will open Feb. 17 at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. Featuring contemporary works in conversation with weavings from 1850 to 1910, “Shaped by the Loom” will emphasize the experience and ingenuity of Navajo weavers then and now. Navajo tapestry weavings will be accompanied by a soundscape by Diné composer and pianist Connor Chee, while wall-size photographs of the Navajo Nation by Raphael Begay will lead visitors to a second-floor exhibition featuring preserved weaving materials like juniper dye, sumac roots, and unwashed wool. The exhibit will also feature a K-through-12 educators’ guide. “We need people to be curious about the Navajo people,” Pete says. “We’re still here, by the grace of our ancestors, and we want the American public to learn our history too.” “Shaped by the Loom” will be on view from Feb. 17 to July 9, bgc.bard.edu.
A Reverential Renovation of a Claridge’s Suite
Claridge’s, one of London’s most venerable addresses, has a sumptuous new offering. Bryan O’Sullivan, the Irish-born, London-based interior designer, recently completed a renovation of the hotel’s Mews Terrace suite, channeling the hotel’s rich history through his own contemporary lens. (O’Sullivan knows the Art Deco language of Claridge’s well: He previously designed many of its bedroom interiors as well as its rose marble Painter’s Room bar.) The nearly 2,000-square-foot space traditionally hosted long-term guests, so O’Sullivan was keen to create a “home away from home” feeling. He sought inspiration from varied sources including the work of the French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank, who rose to prominence in the 1930s; Armand-Albert Rateau, a furniture maker known for his bronze and carved wood designs; and Oswald Milne, who redesigned many of the hotel’s interiors in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The result is a visual feast featuring velum paneling, burled wood doors with brass inlay, jewel-like dressing rooms and two expansive en-suite marble bathrooms. Some of the furniture and lighting was custom-made by O’Sullivan’s studio, while other pieces are antiques sourced from around the world. Paul Follot armchairs sit fireside, a gold-leafed wrought-iron floor lamp illuminates the primary bedroom and a 1950s Italian Murano pendant chandelier is installed above the dining table. In the dining room, O’Sullivan commissioned the Irish artist Domino Whisker to hand-embroider delicate poppy flowers with surrealist eyes onto the backs of the chairs, while the burled wood bar — which guests can request to have staffed by a Claridge’s mixologist — is inlaid with polka dots. Price on request, claridges.co.uk.
A Dance Performance That Updates an Ancient Myth
Troy Schumacher, the choreographer and New York City Ballet soloist who founded the dance nonprofit BalletCollective, says the effects of the pandemic might draw audiences closer to the existential heart of his newest work, “The Night Falls,” which deals with a widespread, mysterious crisis. “Most people didn’t know what repetitive trauma felt like before,” he explained during a Works and Process talk and presentation at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum last Sunday. Schumacher, who is directing the performance, developed “The Night Falls” with the composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone and the writer Karen Russell, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 novel “Swamplandia!” Like Russell’s novel, the new ballet is set in Florida, but it’s based on a much older tale: the myth of the Sirens, whose song was said to lure sailors to their deaths. In “The Night Falls,” a group of strangers, each afflicted by their own demons (such as addiction), are drawn to a mystical grotto by the Sirens’ beckoning calls — haunting melodies they hear in their nightmares. Though the Guggenheim hosted a preview of the performance, it premieres next month in New Jersey as part of Montclair State University’s PEAK Performance series. “The Night Falls” is in performance from Feb. 9 through 12, thenightfalls.net.
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