Out of office: coffee and creative small talk with Tatiana Bilbao

Out of office: coffee and creative small talk with Tatiana Bilbao

Bodil Blain, Wallpaper* columnist and founder of Cru Kafé, shares coffee and creative small talk with leading figures from the worlds of art, architecture, design, and fashion. This week, it’s Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao, who is currently designing a brutalist, ethical aquarium in Mazatlán and has an exhibition at Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art opening in October 2019

Bodil Blain: How do you take your coffee?
Tatiana Bilbao: I don’t. Too much caffeine can drive me crazy!

BB: Where does your name come from?
TB: My great grandfather was an orphan in Bilbao and, when you have no name, they give you the name of the city you were born in. He became a prominent contractor and his son, my grandfather, became an architect. He was also important in the Bilbao government, but later moved to Mexico. My mother was of German descent, so I have an interesting heritage, being a refugee on both sides. I feel it is a privilege.

BB: Where does your creative spirit come from?
TB: The first influence for me when I was growing up was architect Lina Bo Bardi and it was not because she was a woman. Also, my parents were both teachers, of maths and physics, and teacher-parents are very good at encouraging their kids to progress in their strengths and interests.

Tatiana Bilbao
Portrait of Tatiana Bilbao

BB: Tell me a little about your current aquarium project.
TB: I was asked to design an aquarium for the coastal city of Mazatlán [The Aquarium of the Sea of Cortes]. The brief called for an aquarium that looked like an aquarium, but I didn’t know what an aquarium should look like. Ethically I questioned it, but I felt it would become an important research centre. Sea levels will eventually rise and this has been factored into the brutalist structure. The most important part is how this building will give back to the local area – it’s not a zoo for fish!

BB: An exhibition of your work will open at Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in October. What is the show about?
TB: Louisiana is the most beautiful museum. The show explores our definition of landscapes and is laid out in three parts. The first covers our models and projects. The second part is a cabinet of curiosities that brings together things that represent the landscapes – objects, paintings, maps. The third is a physical interpretation of those landscapes in one room. I’m trying to transmit the context of our work and how we respond to it! §

As originally featured in the July 2019 issue of Wallpaper* (W*244)

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