Architectural Digest celebrates artist’s ‘vibrant dream house’ in Mérida

In his Mérida, Yucatán kitchen, Jorge Pardo's girlfriend, Alexis Johnson (left), and his daughter, Penelope, sit at a birch table by the artist. He also designed the cabinetry. Photo: Architectural Digest
  • Jorge Pardo's Mérida home makes the cover of the December 2018 issue of Architectural Digest.

Cuban-American artist Jorge Pardo and his colorful Centro home are the cover story in the December issue of Architectural Digest, one of the most respected shelter magazines in the U.S.

For many readers, the article will likely be a grand introduction to Mérida and the Yucatán. This is the first time a Mérida home has been featured on AD’s cover.

Pardo, 55, has been busy. He’s finishing up work for a publisher Benedikt Taschen in Malibu, and at L’Arlatan, a hotel in Arles, France.

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Pardo’s “walled oasis” in Mérida is where he set up a studio in 2013.

One of his most cherished materials is Yucatán’s iconic pasta tiles, which he had cut and colored to his specifications. “It’s like a playground for me,” he says.

He bought it as a “ruin,” 13.5 meters wide by 91 meters deep in the Santa Ana neighborhood. Like most Centro homes, it’s flush with the sidewalk. When the front door opens, the magazine calls Centro homes “Narnia-like, to reveal inner gardens, courtyards, and quarters stretching luxuriously into the distance.”

INAH required Pardo to maintain its nearly 20-foot ceiling height, something he turned to his advantage by creating a soaring, formal entertaining space. He created a table for 16, inlaid with skulls at its corners.

One wall is almost entirely covered by a rendering of a Willem de Kooning painting. A bank of patterned geometric windows leads to the interior gardens is draped with printed fabrics and Chinese-made lace bought locally and layered to create surprising tones and iterations of color. “Singularly, they wouldn’t be as interesting,” Pardo observes. “Doubled up, they are complementary or dissonant.”

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Beyond the entrance building, Pardo was beyond INAH’s purview, so he built succession of three structures, punctuated by lawns, trees, and a pool that can be accessed either from outside or directly from the living area.

“I wanted to make a place where you didn’t ‘go’ to the garden, but you’re in the garden,” he says.

The central block, where Pardo spends “90 percent of my time,” contains the day-to-day kitchen and living area. A large screened room open on both sides, it’s “like a birdcage that’s really nice to be in.”

When he’s not being visited by his daughter, Penelope, a 16-year-old New York City high-schooler, or his girlfriend, Alexis Johnson, an art dealer, he’s content being here by himself.

“You don’t feel over-whelmed by its scale even though, at about 7,000 square feet, the house is quite large,” he says. “It feels very warm and relaxed. It’s a place where you can leave your shoes lying around.”

{ Related: AD marvels at Mérida’s beauty in 2015 }

Read the entire story and see photos at Architectural Digest’s website.

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