Cult Shop: the most unique design store in Mexico City

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If you plan on stopping by Casa Ahorita on your next visit to Mexico City, prepare to be disappointed. The opening hours of this boutique, tucked away on a leafy residential street in Roma Norte, are as whimsical as its curatorial approach. “I’m probably trying to justify my resistance as an adult, but the unpredictable hours are part of my appeal,” says owner Su Wu, who opens the store whenever life allows. “Maybe you’ll get lucky and we can stay here while I talk to you about ceramics.” Maybe not.”

Su Wu, owner of Casa Ahorita © Maureen M Evans

Shelves feature works by Raina Lee, Perla Valtierra, Philip Kupferschmidt and others.
Shelves feature works by Raina Lee, Perla Valtierra, Philip Kupferschmidt and others. © Maureen M Evans

If the fates align, the reward is a wunderkammer art and design from around the world. In the ground floor space of the 1920s building that Wu shares with her husband, sculptor Alma Allen, and their two children, the whitewashed plaster walls serve as the backdrop for an array of rooms, centered on pottery but going through fashion and furniture. Displayed on pine shelves and volcanic rock plinths hewn in the workshop that crafts Allen’s plinths, the effect is part store, part gallery, part sanctuary.

This hybrid feel is a direct result of Wu’s professional journey: “I wanted to start the shop for the same reason that I love being an art writer and I love curating, which is to having an excuse to talk to people about what matters to them,” says Wu, who moved to Mexico City from Joshua Tree, California five years ago. “It allows me to work with talented friends from around the world while by meeting new people who inspire me.”

Sheepskin balls made in collaboration with Elise Durbecq

Sheepskin balls made in collaboration with Elise Durbecq © Maureen M Evans

José García Antonio x VV Sorry bookends

José García Antonio x VV Sorry bookends © Maureen M Evans

His approach to the magpie has brought together the work of artisans across borders, be it Oaxacan ceramicist Isabel Sanchez (whose Casa Ahorita range, priced at 1,130 pesos, or around £45 , teeming with ant motifs), London-based jeweler Rose de Borman’s woven gold and bronze rings from around £215 or crackle enameled mezcal cups from around £220 by the Beninese artist Matthias Kaiser (whose Wu ceramics was first curated almost a decade ago). With each coin representing a personal relationship, Wu takes a more active role than many traders. “It’s not that I’m going to push a craftsman in a new direction, but rather that I’m interested in a bit more experimental work,” she explains. This is evident in the pieces of blind master ceramist José García Antonio, whose distinctive terracotta figures that Wu helped recast in bronze to serve as candlesticks and bookends, or in the oversized tassel cushions made in collaboration with Elise Durbecq of the Huaraches shoe line, which pushed the brand from fashion to interiors.

Tulipiere from Oaxaca, platinum chawan by Matthias Kaiser and other ceramics at Casa Ahorita.

Tulipiere from Oaxaca, platinum chawan by Matthias Kaiser and other ceramics at Casa Ahorita. © Maureen M Evans

Another source of inspiration for Wu is the building in which Casa Ahorita is located – a former theater that once housed William Burroughs and his wife, the erudite but largely unpublished poet Joan Vollmer. The couple were living there in 1951 when Burroughs shot and killed Vollmer during a drunken game. Wu feared the tragic event took place on the spot, but after searching she confirmed it happened four blocks away. Nevertheless, Wu feels a connection: “Vollmer was friends with people who relied on her too much and I hope her ghost feels safe with me here.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly for such a free and personal project, Wu’s future plans are still emerging. “There may be more formal ramifications in new places, but this space will remain amorphous,” says Wu. “When I moved to Mexico, I heard the word ahorite used a lot and assumed it meant “now”. I quickly learned that it meant “now”. It’s a sweet now – the “not quite yet” or never imminent. I like this. It matches my natural inclinations.

“Intervention/Intersection”curated by Su Wu, runs at Rockefeller Center, New York, through June 24



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