Design Cities: Quito, Ecuador

Design Cities: Quito, Ecuador

Architects Daniel Moreno Flores and Marie Combette describe how the city’s young designers use traditional knowledge and regional resources to forge a new cultural identity.

Outside of its UNESCO-listed historic center, the Ecuadorian capital has become a magnet for such international "starchitects" as Jean Nouvel, Bjarke Ingels, and Carlos Zapata. But for Quito architects Daniel Moreno Flores and Marie Combette, the projects that represent the city’s emerging design ethos come from a different cohort. 

Daniel Moreno Flores and Marie Combette’s Quito-based firm, La Cabina de la Curiosidad, designs unconventional spaces in and around the city. "Quito is a city with a lot of constantly transforming energy, and many of the ideas that young design teams are generating are aimed toward seeking the common good," says Combette.

"Quito’s young designers are motivated to make significant changes for the city by emphasizing local resources, social concerns, tradition, and artisan capabilities," Flores says. "As global cities become more homogenized, it’s an act of cultural conservation to understand the place where we live and take advantage of regional resources." 

Flores and Combette’s Quito-based firm, La Cabina de la Curiosidad, designs unconventional spaces in and around the city. Their projects prioritize reused materials, such as shipping containers, as well as locally sourced mediums. 

"There is an ancestral intelligence in knowing how to occupy the materials from our territory, such as fibers, cottons, wood, or recyclables," Combette says. She cites eucalyptus wood—which grows abundantly in Ecuador—as one traditional resource embraced by younger designers.

For Flores and Combette, a chapel turned brewery near a busy bus junction and traditional market encapsulates Quito’s lively scene. "Young people get together at Bandido Brewing, and a lot of similar places are popping up around the city," Flores says.

The duo point to La Floresta, La Tola, and the historic center as "Quito neighborhoods with a lot of creative energy and strong Indigenous roots," calling out galleries such as +ARTE and No Lugar.

"There’s a healthy spirit of companionship between the local architects, designers, and other creatives," explains Flores, whose peers include Ecuadorian architects Aquiles Jarrin and Felipe Escudero, as well as firms like Diez+Muller. 

"There’s a willingness to be part of a network that shares knowledge, generates debate, and sustains community based on cultural conservation," Combette says. "We can have our own contemporary design language that’s in dialogue with tradition."

"Quito is a city with a lot of constantly transforming energy, and many of the ideas that young design teams are generating are aimed toward seeking the common good."

—Marie Combette, La Cabina de la Curiosidad

Sally Table by Objekt1

Quito company Objekt1 produces straightforward furnishings. Despite their simplicity, they carry a strong sense of locality and Ecuadorian tradition, especially in their form and color. The Sally table is produced using a single sheet of metal and comes in several vibrant hues.

With this stool, Quito designer Ángeles Ortiz reinterpreted the IKEA Frosta Stool, which is a reproduction of Alvar Aalto’s seminal Stool 60. The design, which incorporates organically formed glass appendages, riffs on notions of appropriation and adaptation, if not also a sense of resourcefulness.

Jarra by 162 | Atelier de Cerámica

For delicate pottery in pastel and light, earthy hues, look to this Quito studio’s line of cups, dishes, and kitchenware. Curved forms subtly distorted give these pieces a playful but sophisticated vibe.

Consola Maria by Lomé

This elegantly asymmetrical console is produced by Quito studio Lom  using precise woodworking techniques. We like how its off-balance shape and crisscrossing lower braces add a touch of character to an otherwise clean profile.

Boa Duo by Mathieu de Genot

Quito designer Mathieu de Genot is drawn to classical furniture styles but still has some fun with eclectic finishes. This chair’s Doric form can be covered in a variety of colorful, complexly patterned textiles.

Return to Here Are the World’s Most Exciting Design Destinations—and Why You Have to Visit

Credit: Photo captions written by Adrian Madlener

Published

Last Updated

Save

Get the Dwell Travel Newsletter

Start exploring far-flung design destinations, the newest boutique hotels, and well-designed bars and restaurants perfect for the modern jetsetter.