Cultured Magazine

Winter 2015

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Paola Aboumrad was a devoted Minimalist when she began studying architecture in Mexico City in the 1990s. "All I wanted was to be like Tadao Ando—he was my idol," she says of the purist Japanese architect. "Or John Pawson, whose work is super clean." But after graduation, she came to learn that life is often messier than it appears in the pages of glossy architecture books. "You realize that people don't live like that, because they start collecting things," she says. And rather than fight that reality, she decided to embrace it. "Clients have things that make their homes their own, and give them character," she says. "With time, I've learned to make residential spaces more eclectic and cozy." That isn't to suggest she has entirely abandoned her preference for architecture with simple lines and interiors with an edited point of view. No, Aboumrad is now making a name for herself by walking a fine line between streamlined interior architecture rich in distinctive wood and stone, and curated selections of furniture and accessories that make those spaces feel relaxed and inviting. She got her start working for a Mexican development company in the late '90s, on a major project designed by architect César Pelli, where she served as the main liaison between businesspeople, architects and an army of consultants and engineers. Picking up on her talents, Pelli soon recruited her for his own office, and brought her to work in New Haven, Connecticut for a year. After returning to Mexico City, Aboumrad set up her own office in 2000. Six years later, she moved to New York and opened a second office there to tackle residential projects from Vail to Miami. Now, she is at work on homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons, as well as a mountaintop compound in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, featuring five ground-up Modernist buildings at the edge of a private lake. Having recently completed the interiors of two motor yachts, she is currently working on two more—one with the Italian shipbuilder Benetti, the other with a maritime architect based in London. Along the way, Aboumrad has discovered she has more of a passion for decorative accessories than she originally thought. When she was unable to find the finishing touches she desired for projects in Mexico, she briefly opened her own store, selling everything from pillows to glassware, before being recruited as a home and gift buyer for a major department store. This February, Aboumrad will launch Tuukul with a handful of partners, a Mexico- based online concept store that opens up her unique sense of style to an even larger population. "My nature is architecture," she says. "But I've learned to love fashion and accessories." 156 CULTURED Minimalism No More Emerging Mexican architect Paola Aboumrad makes a statement by upping her decorative game. BY TIM MCKEOUGH PORTRAIT BY JAMIE DIAMOND Architect Paola Aboumrad worked under César Pelli before launching her own firm in 2000, which now has offices in Mexico City and New York.

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