Culture & Arts  |  See all articles tagged architecture book-reviews

Mexican Design Style: The publications

Reviewed by Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr

Cover image - Click for enlargement Mexican Details

In their sixth book, authors/designers Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr travel through Mexico and the Southwest in celebration of the character-rich details of Mexican furniture, architectural elements and hand-crafted accents that resonate beauty and ingenuity.

From chip-carved benches and hand-hewn tortilla tables to painted trunks and carved-stone moldings, the soulful nature of Mexican design abounds. Decorative accents include intricately-woven textiles, glazed ceramics, wooden masks and folk art objects that bear evidence of the hands that made them.

Cover image - Click for enlargement Adobe Details


Press review/Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, July 2002
Authors and designers Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr have been traveling throughout Mexico for years, doing research for their books. In their latest and fourth effort, Adobe Details, the two include the American Southwest in a cross-cultural pilgrimage that extends from Cuernavaca and other areas of Mexico into Texas, New Mexcio and Arizona.

Concise, sparkling text traces the simplicity of adobe construction and the hand-wrought touches and furnishings that define it. Colorful photographs by Witynski detail such elements as portales, bancos, carved corbels and more found in old and contemporary adobe structures.

Cover image - Click for enlargement Casa Adobe


Press review//New Mexico Magazine, May 2002
Many people find the lines and textures of an adobe building at once seductive and compelling. This book is all about the unique aesthetic of houses made of mud. Third in a series of four books on popular residential design in Mexico and the Southwest, Casa Adobe contains photos of spectacular adobe homes, inside and out, in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and various places in Mexico.

The book documents the evolution of adobe from its historic past to its most modern applications, including interior details and architectural elements. The authors chose well the buildings they use as examples for their premise that "adobe is an old tradition with a new future," the recurring theme of the book.

Cover image - Click for enlargement Casa Yucatán


In Casa Yucatán, award-winning authors and interior designers Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr travel under the Mayan sun to discover the vitality and virtues of the Yucatán's rich design community. The fifth book in their Mexican design series, Casa Yucatán invites you to step into the cool, gracious galleries and gardens of colonial homes, old haciendas, and art-filled seaside escapes that dot the Yucatán peninsula.

In its mysterious mix of Mayan temples and Spanish Colonial architecture, the Yucatán region is undergoing a remarkable restoration renaissance, heralding the grandeur of its colonial epoch and the emergence of an innovative Yucatán design style. Today, ancient pyramids share the jungly landscape with revived haciendas, and colonial homes boasting high-beamed ceilings and cool tile floors posture amidst elegant plazas and renovated 19th-century mansions.

Cover image - Click for enlargement Mexican Country Style

Press review/Veranda Magazine, Winter, 1998

A ...Mexican Country Style illuminates a subject on which little has been written. The authors compare furnishings produced in the city for people of means with those produced in the country. The well-written edition relates stylistic information on varying type of doors, tables, chairs and other objects, stressing the defining characteristics of each. Close-up photography reveals the time-worn patina of woods and distressed surfaces of the furnishings...

Cover image - Click for enlargement The New Hacienda


The New Hacienda won the prestigious "La Pluma de Plata" (Silver Pen) Award from The Mexico Ministry of Tourism. The award was presented to the authors in Acapulco by President Ernesto Zedillo at Tianguis/2000.

Hidden in idyllic isolation, the haciendas of Old Mexico have long struck a romantic chord with their rich mix of myth, history, and impressive architecture. Today, these once-abandoned treasures have surfaced in contemporary design, sparking widespread interest in their rescue and restoration.

Travel behind the scenes with authors Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr as they open the doors to Mexico's remote country estates and reveal innovative interiors, artifacts, and antiques that echo the hacienda's original architectural splendor. Inside, ancient stone walls and arcaded portals are at home with modern art and colonial antiques. Cobbled courtyards and grand salons come alive with a spirited mix of once-forgotten objects and contemporary furniture.

Originally dedicated to coffee, sugar, mescal, henequen and wheat production, Old World haciendas have been transformed into myriad new roles--as country homes for artists, filmmakers, equestrians, and business entrepreneurs as well as eco-conscious resorts, art centers, riding schools, and twenty-first-century workspaces.

The hacienda lives on in the familiar use of natural materials and in the pared-down beauty of its interiors. Designers and architects have found inspiration in the viusal culture of the hacienda and have integrated Mexican elements into new homes on both sides of the border. The New Hacienda offers a rich entrance to the world of Mexico's country estates and their influence on contemporary design.

Published or Updated on: January 1, 2006 by Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr © 2008
Contact Karen Witynski, Joe P. Carr
All Tags