The colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico, has been graced with a new design exhibition space. Set in a refurbished 380 sq m space near the historic centre, The Garage (a former car park, as the name suggests) is an initiative by the adjacent design hotel Dos Casas and launches today with a site-specific installation by French designer Fabien Cappello.
Cappello, who relocated to Mexico City in 2016, has developed a new collection of furniture and objects with the local artisan community, designed to reflect on the modern history of San Miguel de Allende, which was known as a hub for radical artists and thinkers in the mid-20th century. The project celebrates the ‘precious act of doing nothing’, inviting visitors and hotel guests to engage with the space with no other ambition than to relax and reflect.
‘I never do exhibitions, I do things that can be used,’ Cappello tells us as we visit the gallery. ‘When you create interaction, that’s when you create space.’ In recent years, the RCA-graduate has made a name for himself with a playful style that mixes bright colours with modernist references. Wallpaper* collaborated with the designer for an intervention in Miami, which referenced Mexico City’s municipal street furniture while challenging the perception between private and public sphere – a central preoccupation in his work.
Produced hand in hand with some of the finest local craftsmen – who have worked in the region for generations – the installation at The Garage features new objects ranging from coloured-glass lamps, reinterpreted maceta pots, cement-tile loungers and benches, woven-straw stools, and wool rugs, handwoven on looms. Each piece is unique and individual with a life of its own – when the exhibition closes, some will find a permanent home at the hotel, while other designs will be produced commercially.
‘To me, Fabien’s work is like a kaleidoscope,’ says Alberto Laposse, founder of Dos Casas hotel. ‘His work reflects on what’s happening around him.’ The Mexico City-based architect (he designed the space of The Garage, which boasts a polished-concrete floor, cement walls and factory-like ceiling) came across Capello’s work at group exhibition ‘L’Esprit du Bauhaus’ at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris last year. He immediately called him and offered him the opening exhibition at his hotel’s new gallery.
‘This is one of the most important projects of my career so far,’ asserts Cappello. ‘Mexico has had such a significant impact on me, and it’s the first time that my work is visible at that scale since I’ve moved here.’ The installation is, hopefully, one of many Mexican iterations to come.