When the sun is up, checking into Azulik — an eco-friendly resort on the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula — feels like stumbling across an ancient treehouse in the jungle. When the sun’s down, you’ll see ... well, nothing, due to the lack of electric lighting.
For more than 14 years, the retreat has committed to its vision of offering upscale amenities (they now boast 48 wood-crafted villas) in an environmentally symbiotic space (there’s no wifi, showers are offered in only a few rooms and electricity is limited to two power outlets per villa). But they’re outdoing themselves with a new expansion: IK Lab, an arts and culture space that opened in April.
Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, Azulik’s founder, is also the designer of the radical anti-gallery, where straight white walls are exchanged for an organic combination of vines and cement. Then there's his partner in the venture, who might be even more intriguing than the space: Santiago Rumney Guggenheim, great-grandson of Peggy Guggenheim. Yes, that Guggenheim.
IK Lab (4 images)
In fact, this new space was Santiago’s idea in the first place. As Architectural Digest notes, “When Rumney Guggenheim moved to Tulum in January (having grown up in Paris and lived in New York, where he temporarily had a gallery of his own), he immediately proposed that Sterkel turn the site into a gallery.”
Are New Yorkers via Paris really moving to Tulum? Well, it’s not called the Williamsburg of Mexico for nothing.
In a move that resembles that remark, you’re encouraged to remove your shoes before stepping across the winding, sloping and texturally diverse space. Part of the experience, the founders say, is interacting with the gallery itself.
As IK Lab’s director, Guggenheim curated the first exhibition, entitled Alignments. It includes hanging sculptures by Artur Lescher, neon pieces by Margo Trushina and a large-scale work by Tatiana Trouvé. But he and Sterkel have plans that go beyond the traditional gallery show, including community programming and residencies in a space “now under construction off-site deep in the jungle.”
Luckily for you, you don’t need to apply for a residency to slip off your shoes and meander the rough-hewn chambers. All you have to do is book a room at Azulik.
Images via IK LAB