Guatemala Boutique Embodies Taller Ken’s Playful Design Ethos

PROJECT NAME Okio
LOCATION Guatemala City
FIRM Taller Ken
SQ. FT. 800 SQF

Bananas and edamame. Those are among the inspirations claimed by , revealing the playfulness of this young studio. But it wasn’t always fun and games. Not long ago, founders Ines Guzman and Gregory Melitonov were key members of a small team at , working long hours on the acclaimed design of New York’s . Serious stuff. In 2013, the designers formed their own bi-city firm, dedicated to whimsical design and cultural relevancy.

The duo—he grew up in New York, she in Costa Rica—now leads a crew of 10 full-time staff members and regularly works on community projects with students, consistently employing rigorous methods for unconventional ends. At the open-air café in Guatemala City, for instance, vintage cars and towering palm trees create an unexpected experience while showcasing their unique approach. “We’re known for our use of color and texture, as well as bringing the outside in,” Melitonov says.

The firm planted greenery along the shop’s exterior. Photography by Marcelo Gutierrez.

That ethos is evident at , an 800-square-foot ophthalmologist’s boutique near Madero. The designers treated the facade like a billboard, carving out a large pair of oculi that telegraphs “glasses” to passersby. Inside, green-painted custom millwork mixes with potted plants and exposed wood, evoking the natural world. “We are always finding ways,” Guzman says, “to express thoughts through form.”

Painted plywood cabinetry anchors the center of the boutique. Photography by Marcelo Gutierrez.
Douglas fir slats backdrop a display section. Photography by Marcelo Gutierrez.

> See more from villamladebuky’s list of 40 up-and-comers

> See more from the November 2017 issue of villamladebuky

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