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Luis Barragán – Brilliance and Beauty
One of the things we love about fashion is the way it can instantly alter your mood. Put on a power suit and become the boss of the boardroom, throw on a leather jacket and reveal your inner rebel—no cause needed. But fashion's not the only thing that can affect how we feel. Our surroundings also hold major sway, a fact that was understood all too well by one of Mexico's most famous architects and 1980 Pritzker Prize winner, Luis Barragán, whose design for the enchanting equestrian estate, Cuadra San Cristóbal, served as the one of the locations for Simons' recent photo shoot in Mexico City.
Luis Barragán, who was born in Guadalajara in 1902 and died in Mexico City in 1988, is considered to be one of Mexico's greatest architects and a revolutionary of the Modernist movement. Collaborating with artist Mathias Goeritz, he pioneered the idea of “emotional architecture.” Barragán felt that spaces designed solely with a focus on their functionality often resulted in architecture that was cold and sterile. To avoid this, he used light, space, and colours inspired by his Mexican cultural identity to create beauty and evoke an emotional response in the user. This emotional impact was the focus and “function” of all his designs.
I believe in an 'emotional architecture.' It is very important for humankind that architecture should move by its beauty; if there are many equally valid technical solutions to a problem, the one which offers the user a message of beauty and emotion, that one is architecture.
Barragán's architecture masterfully fuses traditional Mexican aesthetics with the minimalism of Modernism. Completed in 1968, Cuadra San Cristóbal is one of the architect's best-known works and an impressive display of his skill in blending the two styles. While the influence of Modernism shines through the estate's clean lines, sharp ninety-degree angles, and cube-like structures, a vibrant pink, purple, mauve, and rust red cover its stuccoed walls, echoing the colours and organic materials used in the region's local architecture. When these happy hues contrast against the brilliant azure sky, the result is breathtakingly beautiful and sublimely serene.
At Simons, we see a striking similarity in Barragán's approach to design and our own philosophy regarding architecture and the arts. Like him, we believe that art plays an important role in beautifying the world, and that it has the power to inspire emotions and spark new ideas. It seemed only natural that while in Mexico City, we should visit and pay tribute to one of the most celebrated architectural works by this like-minded lover of beauty.
1 Emilio Ambasz, The Architecture of Luis Barragan. (New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 1976), 8, https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_catalogue_2461_300298680.pdf (May 17, 2018).