Luis & Camila, Mexico City
It’s hard to put the work that Luis and Camila do into simple terms, for between them they are photographers, architects, designers, directors, hoteliers, artists, teachers and more. They enjoy the independence that comes with working across so many disciplines and the way it enables them to travel, collaborating with people who inspire them along the way. Their home in Mexico City is the kind in which you want to ask questions about the origins of every single object, every piece of furniture. Luis jokes with us that they might be hoarders, but it can’t be hoarding when every single thing seems to have its rightful place.
The two of you are working on so many different projects at the moment, can you tell us about what you both do?
Camila is a photographer specialising in Architecture. Her main focus is photographing the built environment, from entire buildings to intimate interior details. She works closely with architects capturing the design intentions and aspirations for every project. Her work is mostly under direct commission from all sorts of offices and design studios but she also gets hired from time to time by companies, magazines and other media bodies. Recently, she has also been involved in art documentation. On the side she has her own personal work that relates to temporality, natural forces that transform space over time and a deep interest in the belongings that people collect and cherish as valuable possessions that reflect into their personalities. Her work has been presented in galleries in Mexico and New York and other international Art Fairs such as Art Limea where she is presenting next week two photographs of her recent project called 'Unfinished'. I am an Architect. But not just that, I've led a design practice over the years, creating projects that range from graphic, editorial, furniture, museographic and architecture design, from Vietnamese Food Trucks all the way to leisure houses in the country. Simultaneously I teach an architecture workshop at the University, collaborate on reconstruction projects after the earthquakes in the south of Mexico, in Chiapas. And I also ended up co-hosting and directing an amazing hospitality project called Chaya B&B. What sort of a space have you tried to create with Chaya B&B?
We were aiming for an extension of a home, our home. Something that felt familiar but at the same time local, really rooted on its contextual locality. A place for true travelers, transgressing the tourist angle and changing it into the local explorer that wants more than the standardized routinely travel dynamic. We wanted to go back to the roots of hospitality where a warm bed, a delicious homemade breakfast and a personalised attention matters more than many other overrated commodities. The objective is to share our essence through the work of many collaborators, friends, designers and local producers through our products and designs. The most important thing was to make a enjoyable space, as a comfy hammock or a bathtub surrounded by plants can be.
We were aiming for an extension of a home, our home. Something that felt familiar but at the same time local, really rooted on its contextual locality. A place for true travelers, transgressing the tourist angle and changing it into the local explorer that wants more than the standardized routinely travel dynamic.
What do you love about your job?
We both love that we do not restrict ourselves to a single title. Before being photographer or architect we have many more roles. We also have more liberties in what and how we work, our work space and our time. Every week is completely different and every meeting or gig will be a different scenario with a whole set of opportunities and difficulties of its own. We get involved with people lives, their intimacies, their spaces and we get deep into their psyches. We get to work and collaborate with many people, ending up with valuable friends. We get to travel a lot and make those trips our work and lifestyle. Luis & Camilla lounging on their IN BED linen duvet set
Did you both grow up in Mexico City?
Yes, born and raised. We have both had the opportunity to live for short periods of time abroad; Sydney, Barcelona and New York.
Can you share with us a meaningful memory from your childhoods?
What we value or remember the most is our times getting out of the city. For Camila this was to the Valle de Bravo and for me a Ranch in Tequisquiapan. The countryside, the dirt, the animals, the field trips and and whacky experiences of naughty kids just doing all kinds of dumb shenanigans. Wildlings that bonded with lifetime friends just drifting in the fields, getting into trouble and getting back home with dirt and scratches all over. We are grateful for the family members took us there and to many other places, they showed us how to enjoy life. Do you have a morning routine?
You could say that it's a bit of a role distribution of chores, with one (me) taking the dog for the morning walk, the other (Camila) preparing a healthy breakfast. We balance what needs to be done. We both work from home for now, so it's an on and off game, we are both doing our own thing but are also constantly consulting or sharing information with one another.
A bedtime routine?
A simple dinner together to catch up on each other's day, a couple of TV shows sometimes, a mosquito hunt before bed, anxiety and stress relief workouts and then off to bed. Oh and we take out Ardilla ("squirrel") our dog for a walk.
You have these little collections of curated objects around your home, where have they come from?
We collect a lot, I think we might be hoarders already. We especially like natural objects; stones, bones, feather, pieces that belong to places we’ve traveled and just picked up in our foraging adventures. Also handcrafted and artistanal objects. Stuff that we can buy in local markets and bring into a different meaning in contrast or relation with the other objects.
We have an obsession with objects, all kinds of them. We’ve filled our home with them, plants too. They have also triggered some of Camila’s projects, “Objeto-Sujeto” or “Cámara de Curiosidades” where she looks into people relation with objects. If I would had to pick one piece I’d choose the rock I have by the bed, a very smooth and ellipsoid shaped stone. I like to hold it, as totem, something earthy. And for Cam it’s a really tough one, she would like to be buried like a mummy with all of them.
We collect a lot, I think we might be hoarders already. We especially like natural objects; stones, bones, feather, pieces that belong to places we've traveled and just picked up in our foraging adventures.
What do you love about your neighbourhood?
It is very central. We are on the edge of a very popular neighborhood, so not being right in the middle of it has the benefit of being separated but close to everything, most of our work locations, our friends and a lot of cool places.
We like to avoid the car as much as we can and use a mix of public and alternative transportations to get by. It is a beautiful neighbourhood, filled with Art Deco landmark buildings and a couple of parks filled with public activities and it’s good for the doggie. It was also one of the most damaged areas by the recent earthquake that hit Mexico, but as a reaction it proved its solidarity and strong community bonds with everyone coming together to bring it back.
Where are some of your favourite place to eat, drink and shop around Mexico City?
To pick just a few feels like a horrible responsibility, we like to go to as many as we can and try them all.
Street markets, food markets, all markets, they are very popular and huge comercial structures that define not only a cultural element of each locality but even a specialised dynamic of the marketplace. From Mercado de San Juan with its culinary experience to the corner itinerary market by the House, we get all the basics and extras from them: antiques, furniture, clothes, utilitarian stuff for the house, food, herbs even plants, you get everything over there. And if we are feeling like we’re missing a bit of drinking side we go to the Cantinas, we actually celebrated our civil matrimony in one of them and it was hell of a party.
What are you looking forward to this year?
This is a good year. We have a couple of projects in the works, we don’t want to spoil it before bragging about it too soon but one would take us to live and work in a new place, making a new home for hosting more travellers in a new city in Mexico. We’ve got other projects on the horizon that might take us traveling abroad, some other research grants to be won for more creative exploration and more family decisions that might change the course of plans. We are aiming high but we are expecting many alternative outcomes.
Can you share with us some titles you are reading and watching at the moment?
We are both working on research projects which means we are doing a lot of reading. I am deep into Joan Fontcuberta’s books and essays. Camila is reading “Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers”, also essays and works by David Campany, Andrew Higgott and Nicholas Olsberg. We are also binge watching a lot of shows just to ease the mind, we like the comedy dramas by Noah Baumbach and Donald Glover. Something that has stood out recently is the beautifully composed drama “Young Pope” by Paolo Sorrentino.
See more from Luis, Camila & Chaya B&B here.