8.18.20 / San Miguel De Allende/Mexico

Ruby Kean In conversation with Laura Kirar, designer of MESóN Hidalgo.

The newest member of the AHL team, Design Editor Ruby Kean transports us to San Miguel De Allende.

If you find yourself in San Miguel De Allende this summer, a guest house like no other is waiting for you. Tucked behind two ancient hand carved Encino oak doors on Calle Hidalgo is the magical MESóN Hidalgo. The hotel is nestled in the heart of San Miguel, just one block from the jardin and the luminous gothic spires of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Designed and conceptualised by designer Laura Kirar, the centuries-old manor house has been turned into a magical guest house, come immersive shopping experience. The vibrancy of San Miguel is mirrored in a treasure trove of colour and texture with three shop-able living rooms and three beautifully designed private guest rooms. With hand painted details in every room and intermittent art installations that reflect the ethos of the hotel and magic of San Miguel, MESóN Hidalgo is so much more than just a hotel.

Discovered by chance by Kirar and a friend, the 350 year old building struck her immediately, “When we walked through the old weathered doors into the courtyard full of hanging vines, I had a familiar feeling in my heart – like “uh oh, I’m in trouble”. Captivated and inspired, It was from here Kirar began the journey to create the guest house, bringing together her own vibrant and textural interiors and a female collective of artists and creators to realise her vision of an immersive and entirely shoppable hotel experience. Meson Hidalgo is destined to become a permanent place in each visitors memory. In their own words, “some places stay with you. Only MESóN Hidalgo is designed to come home with you, too.”

What was your main point of inspiration for the design of the hotel?
My main inspiration is the ancient building itself, and the air of history you get being inside it.  I imagined the lives unfolding there and the stories made over hundreds of years and let that be my muse – mixed with the vibrancy of the modern design in Mexico today.

How did you and the collective of creatives that you brought together to conceptualise the hotel come together?
I imagined the MESóN project concept (a unique guesthouse/boutique experience where everything in the building is shoppable) and then I set out to find inspiring and like-minded business women to be a part of it.  Brianna Armour of Armour Jewelry was the first.  I own many of her incredible contemporary silver and gold pieces. And Carla Fernandez was the next creative I contacted.  Her brand and designs are inspiring and easy to wear and represent the best of modern Mexican fashion. At that point we had a strong point of view but I realized we were missing the experience of scent.  That’s when we contacted Xinu – an exciting new perfumer out of Mexico City. 

 

The guest house is more than just a hotel but an immersive experience, what was your reason for wanting to create something experiential?
I think that my work has always been in the pursuit of creating experiences for my clients – whether it’s an interior or the furniture and objects I design.  We are a product of our experiences and so many of my most memorable ones come from travel and environments that transport us and encourage imagination. 

I started out my career designing restaurants and hotels and then fell very deeply into luxury residential – where the experiences I designed were often very personal ones, created just for the personality and needs of the private clients.  At MESóN, I found myself with the great opportunity to create the story I wanted to tell about the house, about its history and about the experience of being there.  At MESóN I could invite the public into my private space to participate in this unique experience.  That for me was a really exciting change from my private work that is so rarely seen by public eyes.  

Where do you get your inspiration when designing? Talk us through your process.
Three things – Art, Travel & Nature. I’m never without my sketchbook and a camera (iPhone), I have a mind that is always thinking and so I draw and create a lot.  Editing and honing the ideas is the best part; I love when everything comes together and a collection or interior start to take shape.  My favorite days are prototype reviews, when something 2D becomes 3D.

 

Tell us a bit about your desire to champion craft and positively impact indigenous practices.
Over more than 20 years of working around the world with craftsmen and artisans I saw the disappearance of so much talent and so much knowledge that I decided to purposely work with materials and techniques that were ancient in order to create modern design. My goal was to create great modern design but also to create a new market and revenue stream for artisans and their families.  Laura Kirar Design currently works with 6 different communities in 5 states in Mexico. We are proud to be a small part of this movement towards slow fashion and conscious design and look to our more seasoned contemporaries, like the Carla Fernandez, as a role models for how socially conscious design can create real positive change in the world.

 

What did you want your guests to feel when staying at the hotel?
Transported

Tell us about the installation ‘Extinction of the Senses’ you created for the. Opening of the hotel.
For Day of the Dead, I designed a kinetic sculpture in our Altar titled “Extinction of the Senses” to honor the artisans, plants, animals and languages of Mexico that have been lost.  I worked with an incredible young papermache artist who is following in the practice of his family.  They have been in the papermache business for generations making mohgangas – the big dolls that walk the streets during the San Miguel wedding processions.

Do you have plans for more installations in the future?
YES!  STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT INSTALLATION!

 

Describe the design and feel of the hotel in three words.
Unique, playful, intimate

As the world moves into travelling again, what do you think sets MESóN Hidalgo apart compared to other hotels to visit?
The unique design and attention to detail – it is a house like no other!

 

What do you love most about San Miguel de Allende?
The mix of history and modernity and the knowledge that MESóN is only a short walk away from the best cuisine and nightlife in Mexico. 

Do you have any other exciting projects on the horizon?
I continue to work on the restoration of my 18th century hacienda and a 7,000sq ft commercial project in Dallas and my next collection for McGuire Furniture – all due for completion in 2021.

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