October 2, 2022The confluence of cultures in Mexico City spans millennia. Spanish baroque cathedrals and palaces are built atop Tenochtitlan, the ancient Aztec capital. In the fashionable Colonia Roma section, the Beaux-Arts vogue is evident in neoclassical architecture on a grid of avenues echoing Haussmann’s Parisian plan.
Perhaps no one knows this better than Jorge Loyzaga. It was within this context, more than half a century ago, that he launched his architecture firm, Loyzaga Studio. Ever since, he has devoted his life to the study and practice of architecture, interior design and historical restoration, and in 2019 his firm introduced a line of furniture and decorative objects developed with the same scholarly rigor.
Following in his footsteps, his twin daughters, Sophia Alexandra Loyzaga and Fernanda Loyzaga, have joined him in the business. Although Jorge remains the head of the studio, Sophia and Fernanda now carry the baton. “I was immersed and instructed in architectural history, decorative arts and interior design from the earliest time I can remember,” says Sophia, the firm’s CEO. “Fernanda studied architecture and continues my father’s tradition.”
Greeting a visitor in front of the studio’s headquarters, in Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec, Sophia, clad in a black sheath dress, projects a cosmopolitan air. Her father and sister oversee the architectural and interior design projects while she is in charge of the furniture collections, now available through 1stDibs.
The building’s industrial-looking exterior belies the nearly monastic calm of the courtyard inside. Entering from the street transports visitors to another world, a magic trick revealing sun-dappled paving stones and a white-washed three-story neoclassical edifice. Sophia leads the way through the reception area, the sample room, the library and Jorge’s office. “There are maybe thirty thousand books throughout the studio,” she estimates. “My father says there are secrets in these books.” An atmosphere of erudition pervades the space. “Scholars come to the studio to research history, architecture and art,” she adds.
“This framed letter from [architect] Tadao Ando suggests a building designed by my father deserves to be a World Cultural Heritage site,” she notes. The high praise is perhaps unsurprising for a polymath whose CV includes the interior decoration of the city’s Chapultepec Castle, the restoration of the altar of the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, countless other historical restoration and residential projects throughout the world and collaborations with celebrated interior designers Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill and Christian Liaigre.
The second floor is a hive of activity, with architects and designers busy drafting. “A team of about twenty works with us,” Sophia says. More books line the walls up to the third-floor showroom, a long, airy gallery of classical proportions.
A framed drawing for a residential commission of a 100-foot-long vaulted ceiling in the Mudéjar, or Hispano-Arab, style is a showstopper. “Every piece was hand carved and installed — nothing we do is prefabricated,” she explains. “We can customize anything for a client request. But in general, I want clean lines for the Vie d’Or collection.”
Vie d’Or is Loyzaga’s third furniture collection, on display in the expansive showroom. Released in 2021, it riffs on the glamorous Art Deco style of the 1920s and ’30s (earlier collections were inspired by the city of Florence and Paris’s Place Vendôme). “Good proportions are based on nature,” Sophia declares. “These pieces are timeless and work in a variety of settings.”
The pieces transmute the restrained, biomorphic lines of Art Deco. A side table made of ebony inlaid with bronze invites touch. “There is an attention to detail and integrity of craftsmanship,” Sophia says. “Loyzaga furniture suggests a lifestyle, a sensibility, a joie de vivre.”
Introspective sat down with Sophia to talk about the inspiration behind the collections, their meticulous craftsmanship and her indispensable trick for getting things right the first time.
Is there a piece on 1stDibs that exemplifies the Loyzaga philosophy?
The Vendôme bar cart. Made with bronze, one of the materials we use most, it also has the aged mirror we often use in architectural projects and leather on the handles. The combination of materials is important to our work, and like every piece, it’s handmade by our artisans.
We love the aesthetic of this cart, which was designed by Jorge and Fernanda. It elevates the space in which it is placed. Strong and elegant, with good proportions, it suggests the art of receiving, enjoying life, gathering with people you love.
Can you describe the creative process, selection of materials and craftsmanship involved in creating the final product?
Jorge and Fernanda design the pieces, usually inspired by an architectural style, work of art or period. For example, our marble tabletops are inspired by floors in Venice’s Palazzo Grassi.
First comes the inspiration, then the design, followed by drawings rendered by the artists. After that, an artisan makes a one-to-one-scale drawing, regardless of the size of the piece. Whether it’s of an enormous entrance door or a little box, the drawing must be made so we can correct the way the materials fit together and are assembled. It is a key process in determining changes in proportion or to the design itself and a lot more efficient than correcting the piece after it is produced.
Each piece is made hand in hand with the artisans, led by a master craftsperson. Our first contact is always with the maestro, who’s the most knowledgeable about working with fine materials. We have worked with several maestros and their teams over generations. Craft is passed from generation to generation.
Your Vie d’Or collection echoes an Art Deco sensibility. How does that relate to Loyzaga style?
We designed the collection to celebrate the combination of elements that created Art Deco. We found inspiration in nature, architecture, the Gilded Age and ancient cultures. Art Deco has many faces. We have designed several Art Deco houses, interiors and objects. It’s one of my favorite movements, and it was my idea to make the Vie d’Or collection.
We employ woods such as ebony and mahogany, as well as colorful marbles and inlays in bronze. Each piece was designed with utmost attention to detail and executed by Mexican artisans known for their superb craftsmanship.
Much of your work is inspired by classical design and its reinterpretation. Is there a particular period or style that embodies your idea of perfection?
The eighteenth century is especially interesting, because during that period, architecture flourished, and the great cities — Paris, London and Mexico City, among others — were created. Also, the second half of the nineteenth century, with the Beaux-Arts movement, because of the novelty, freedom, imagination and possibilities for design.
Jorge trained in architecture and the restoration of historical monuments and has the knowledge and ability to design in any period. He is the basis of Loyzaga Studio. Classical design is not just an inspiration. It is our core value.