Located in Gdynia, Poland, Luis Mexicantina serves all the classics you’d expect from a Mexican canteen albeit in a very unexpected setting. Bored with the clichéd aesthetic of Mexican restaurants, Gdansk-based interior, product and graphic design studio Akurat turned for inspiration to Luis Barragán, Mexico’s preeminent modernist architect who pioneered the concept of “emotional architecture”. Named after Barragán, Luis’ design takes a page from the master’s emphasis on light, shadow, form and texture and his predilection for bold colours and raw materials. The design team combined a minimalist design language in tune with Gdynia’s modernist character with warm, earthy hues and a tactile palette of terracotta tiles, meranti wood, glass mosaics, plaster and natural wicker to imbue the space with a soothing sense of calmness.
What makes Akurat’s design stand out is how deftly it conveys a sense of the Mexican vernacular through a less-is-more, modernist approach. Terracotta floor tiles, limewash plaster walls and pergola-like timber planks in the ceiling conjure the feeling of the Mexican countryside, as does an earthy colour palette inspired by the desert during sunrise and sunset, and a plethora of cacti and other succulent plants. Bespoke clay pottery including tableware and planters further underscore the restaurant’s soulful humbleness, while glazed mosaics add a touch of glamour. At the same time, the designers’ focus on simple geometric forms and sculptural approach to detail ensure that the space feels modern.
Open throughout the day, Luis effortlessly transitions from a daylight-filled casual diner to a moody cocktail bar at night with the help of a series of red neon lights subtly scattered around the space. Shaped into lines, arcs and circles, the minimalist neon lights are both decorative and functional, further proof of the project’s modernist ethos. Serving a wide selection of quality Tequilas and Mezcals, which can be savoured neat, on the rocks or in signature cocktails, alongside classic dishes like tacos, fajitas and churros, Luis is an oasis of Mexican exuberance in terms of flavour as well as ambience.