Mexico by Cheshire and Brendan Ryan

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Mexico's intimate space bulges with food and conversation.

Mexico’s intimate space bulges with food and conversation. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Candle light creates an intimate, moody space.

Candle light creates an intimate, moody space. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Raw brick walls are adorned with hundreds of pictures, postcards and Mexicana.

Raw brick walls are adorned with hundreds of pictures, postcards and Mexicana. Image: Jeremy Toth

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Where so often the old is replaced with the new, Mexico ups the ante by putting layer upon layer of the old back on, creating a space that is rich and worn.

Once the smart interior of a cycle shop, the space is now a bustling restaurant and bar, resonant with red and amber hues and heavily embellished with Mexican motifs, pictures and flowers.

Working in close collaboration, designers Nat Cheshire (Cheshire Architects) and artist Brendan Ryan, garnered the rawer aspects of the Mexican culture - the passion, blood, laughter, sex - and brought them to life within the bar and restaurant spaces. At every chance, they restored and recycled. 

Light from a single lamp illuminates the entrance way to the restaurant. Further indoors, the roof is carefully yellowed to imitate tobacco stains and raw brick and red walls are covered in a smattering of clashing pictures. The timber floors are weathered, paint is flaking and a Virgin Mary bathed in a halo of neon cranes over guests. Hand-painted murals are also thrown into the mix.

Where the combined effect of these elements could become harsh, warmth and comfort is injected back in with dripping candles and vases bulging with flowers. The tightly packed in tables, though slightly shambolic, create an intimate ambience. Upturned metal bins suspended from the roof become light shades, casting intricate light patterns against the roof and walls, and waitresses breeze in and out with flowers in their hair. And the best part - the wonderful smell of light, fresh Mexican cuisine wafts from the kitchen to fill the space.

Nominated as a finalist in the 2012 Interior Awards, Mexico is a welcome vibrant and cultural addition to Auckland’s burgeoning Britomart precinct.

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