Nothing is black – really nothing,’ the artist Frida Kahlo famously wrote in her diary. Her paintings – most of them self-portraits – were filled with rich colours, and she saw each one as symbolically representing an emotion or sentiment. Some of her work, therefore, was filled with messages of love and joy, while others showed a darker side, reflecting some of the difficulties she faced in her own life. Regarded as one of Mexico’s finest artists, perhaps it is not surprising, then, that the renovation of the W Hotel, located in the city’s lively Polanco neighbourhood, has been strongly influenced by her work: with a vibrant, exciting palette, arresting design and unexpected features, the overriding aim has been to combine colour, illusion, intrigue and culture – reflecting Mexico City itself.
‘This became a core focus for the hotel’s design,’ explains Aliya Khan, the hotel brand’s director of renovation and global brand design. ‘Kahlo’s uncompromising impact on the art scene both here and throughout the world became a driving force for the design team’s vision. We took her use of bright colour, primitive style and dramatic symbolism as a reflection of her influences from Mexican culture and spun that theme into our design narrative.’
This aim is clear the moment guests enter the 237-room hotel – the refurbishment of which continues apace – with a mesmerising focal point inspired by Aztec pyramids: created in Kahlo’s beloved electric blue, which she believed signified ‘electricity and purity’, the mirrored piece reveals a neon art installation by night.
At the heart of the hotel is the Living Room, where the artist’s colour palette is combined with quirky furniture – such as huge masks that can also be used as chairs – underpinning the theme of illusion and intrigue. This, together with the other public spaces in the hotel, more than hints at what’s in store in the unique guest rooms and suites.
Here, shots of brilliant primary colour punch against neutral backdrops; dramatic images of Mexican icons – from the Spanish Conquistadors to the country’s iconic actress Dolores Del Rio – adorn the walls, while headboards feature local street toys suspended between glass and a two-way mirror, appearing to offer an optical illusion of infinity.
When it comes to symbolic sentiment, the W Mexico City is filled with energy, fun and vibrancy: Kahlo would surely approve. www.whotels.com