Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mexico is not beige: Colorful advice for your home from designer Maye Ruiz

In 2022, interior designer Maye Ruiz had the opportunity to choose the color of the year for 2023 with Comex, the most important paint brand in Mexico and Latin America. That solidified her as a color expert — and now people increasingly associate her with color. Just take a look at her Instagram account to understand what this is all about. 

Maye Ruiz is one of the most relevant and irreverent Mexican interior designers of our time. The designs created by her firm, MAYE, are rebellious and question social conventions, going beyond the soberness of beige, and flooding life and spaces with color.  “I love that gradually people are more open to the transformative power of color because color is a fantastic tool even if you don’t have a lot of budget.”

Space was conceptualized by Maye Ruiz and Mario Ballesteros, two of the creatives of Comex Trends 2022. (Instagram)

As a child, Maye delighted in decorating and rearranging her grandmother’s house in León, Guanajuato, and other spaces where she felt at ease. Later, she discovered she could turn her passion into a career and chose to study Environmental and Spatial Design at La Salle University. “I worked for a long time in León, so my early projects were related to footwear. Moving to Mexico City broadened my horizons, and I began to get involved in projects with a more global vision.” There, Maye learned that designing something beautiful is not enough; it must tell a story, and each element must have a purpose. “Spaces tell stories, and that is what gives projects relevance.”

Maye’s philosophy is rooted in the premise that interior design is an art that goes beyond trends and what is currently fashionable. “I’m obsessed with finding a balance between technical or ergonomic aspects, the client’s taste, and trends, which I believe are important to consider because ultimately your work has to position itself on a timeline,” says the interior designer, who, like a true Libra, always seeks balance.

For Maye, it’s not just about following trends; it’s more about “going to the root of trends and creating from there, applying your own filters and language,” says the designer, who has turned her own style into a personal brand: Clients who want color in their projects want Maye to create them.

Casa Coa is located in one of the most emblematic streets in San Miguel de Allende. (Instagram)

Color Specialist

“I remember a lot from when I was studying, visiting textile stores and exploring their catalogs. I mean, seeing a catalog with a thousand colors makes my heart beat faster. I’ve never understood why people choose beige when there’s all of this life in color.”

Her love for color is genuine, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t order. “Just like in a movie or a book, there has to be a main character, secondary character, extras, etc. In an interior, it’s the same; there have to be different shades and saturations, not everything can be on the same frequency,” says Maye, who has also taught at universities such as the Universidad Iberoamericana, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the Mexico City arts institute CENTRO.

“I love the theme of remastering, of redoing something that already exists. When you see something that looks like what you do, it doesn’t mean they copied you; it’s just that we all draw inspiration from other things, and as Rosalía says, ‘here, God is the best artist.’ So, everything already exists, but everything can be remastered.”

We asked Maye about what specific projects, tips, and tricks might inspire your next interior design project:  

What feeds your creativity?

“I am very aware and open to receiving all external stimuli. But I think something super important in space design is context. For example, if I wanted to put a super new porcelain floor in San Miguel, it would look like a mistake because it completely breaks with the context of the city, and that is one of the most important points to consider when designing. Designing a space in San Miguel de Allende is not the same as doing it in Mexico City because they have different materials.”

Casa Dominga

“In 2021, I started my own studio, MAYE, and it was a year of many changes. I started, with my partner Daniel, the Casa Dominga project, which is our home. We began creating that space together, and I would recommend any creative person interested in the world of interior design to experiment in their own home.”

Casa Arca

“The house is located in a colonial house that someone bought in the 1920s and did a renovation inspired by Noah’s Ark. So, on the facade, there are animals. I can’t ignore the incredible story the house has. So, for this project, we used craft animal figures from Guanajuato and Michoacán. It’s an example of telling stories from the context you are in.”

Global Recognition

My 2023 began with Casa Dominga on the cover of Architectural Digest Latin America. It was very interesting because we worked with a tile brand but in a different context – we made tile furniture. The result, I believe, was the best cover of 2023 for AD because you could feel the soul we put into the project.”

Best Restaurant Design

“We won the best restaurant design award from AD Latin America. It was my first award with my own studio, and it was incredible. In this project, I wasn’t just thinking about creating something beautiful that worked; I also wanted it to connect with people, and it succeeded so much that we got the award.”

Three tips for your interior design project in 2024

  1. This year is one of rebirth. Since 2020, it has been challenging, and I believe that in 2024, we are finally coming up for air. In fact, in different trend forecasts, the most significant palettes are warm – like peach fuzz. Here in Mexico, the two most relevant forecasting researches are reds and oranges. So this year we will see a lot of reds and peaches. So, in your project, color must not be missing, and for those who are afraid: Starting with warm colors is easier and feels better.
  2. You have to see interiors as a whole. You might think, I love this painting, but actually, you have to think about how it will combine with your walls, floors, your sofa, rug, etc. For a space, we don’t choose pieces that will be hung alone, like in a museum, everything you select is part of the same space.
  3. Being an interior designer is like being a curator, and liking something is not a filter; you have to know how to choose. I recommend thinking of spaces as a party, and everything you choose has to go to the same party. That is the art of being an interior designer: being able to detect what goes to the same party and what doesn’t.

Camila Sánchez Bolaño is a journalist, feminist, bookseller, lecturer, and cultural promoter and is Editor in Chief of Newsweek en Español magazine.

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