Cool Hunting 2009

Top hoteliers reveal the best new design discoveries in London, Texas, New York City, Buenos Aires & Mexico City.

Their Buenos Aires favorites

Graffiti galleries
"An urban art scene rivaling New York's or Berlin's has sprung up," says Rixton. "Loveyou, Turbo, and L'Inc are galleries devoted to it, where you can buy a beautiful screen print for something like 30 dollars."

Hermanos Estebecorena
"This men's store is owned by fashion and industrial designers," says Rixton. "They use good materials, and the clothes are amazing." Rixton swears by the socks and underwear made with breathable panels—"the best in the world"—and recently purchased a snowboarding jacket that folds into a bag.

Nobrand
Traditional Argentine objects and iconography are given a new face at Nobrand. "They reimagine these classic items in a totally modern way," says O'Shea. Here, the gaucho espadrilles known as alpargatas gain a printed cow motif, while the updated visage of Che Guevara is emblazoned on T-shirts in graphic, minimalist strokes.

ADDRESS BOOK
Tienda Puro Diseño
Gorriti 5953, 011-54/11-4776-8037, purodiseno.com.ar

Graffitimundo
011-54/9-11-3309-7462, graffitimundo.com, tours from $20

Tegui
Costa Rica 5852, 011-54/11-5291-3333, tegui.com.ar, entrées from $19, three courses for $43

Home Hotel
Honduras 5860, 011-54/11-4778-1008, homebuenosaires.com, from $122

Loveyou
Paraguay 5335, 011-54/11-4774-1170, loveyouweb.com.ar

Turbo Galería
Costa Rica 5827, 011-54/11-4776-8762, turbogaleria.com

Casa L'Inc
Amenabar 93, 011-54/11-4776-2348, l-inc.com.ar

Hermanos Estebecorena
El Salvador 5960, 011-54/11-4772-2145, hermanosestebecorena.com

Nobrand
Gorriti 5876, 011-54/11-4776-7288, nobrand.com.ar

MEXICO CITY

The city is modernist at its core, in the 1960s-era Zona Rosa. It's also colonial. And beaux arts. And a wild hybrid called Colonial Californiano, a mission-revival style that owes more to Hollywood than to Cortés. It's huge, it's sceney, it's noisy, it's cutting-edge. Get the picture? Mexico City isn't any one thing—it's way more than the sum of its parts. At the Museo de Arte Popular in Centro Histórico, you can look at displays of folk art—carved Oaxacan figurines and papier-mâché skeletons for Day of the Dead. Meanwhile, the boutique Naco Miscelánea, in trendy Condesa, sells kitsch raised to the rank of fashion, such as T-shirts printed to look like a mariachi suit. There's something for everyone, and after recent setbacks, it's more accessible than ever.

Designer spotlight
Carlos Couturier, managing partner at Grupo Habita, a Mexico City-based boutique hotel group
Couturier and his partners, the Micha brothers—Rafael, Moisés, and Jaime—burst onto the hotel scene in 2000 when they opened Mexico City's Hotel Habita, a 36-room lodge built in a gutted 1950s apartment building that was enclosed with a box of sandblasted aquamarine glass. Travelers (and fashion photographers) flocked. Top projects Each hotel in their growing stable is authentically Mexican in its own way. Playa del Carmen's Hotel Básico is a paean to industrial design, with exposed plumbing and hot tubs made from old water tanks on the roof; Puebla's La Purificadora was built in a soaring 19th-century water purification plant, with bits of the original signage left intact. The newest, Mexico City's Distrito Capital, has a black-and-white lobby and furniture by Carl Hansen. The common drivers of all of them are public spaces with active bar and restaurant scenes designed to make visitors feel like locals. On the horizon This year, the group is opening two hotels in Acapulco, including a renovation of the iconic 1950s Hotel Boca Chica. And a New York hotel by Enrique Norten, planned for 2011, will take things international.

His Mexico City favorites

Casa Luis Barragán
According to Couturier, no visit is complete without seeing the private house of the iconic architect. "It's the perfect example of a balanced space and displays the best of Mexico: an amazing use of materials, volume, and natural light. It's as colorful as Mexico itself but in a refined and elegant way."

DESIGN WITHIN REACH

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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